78: The Big Slip

78: The Big Slip

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tales of Golf and Sport

The Big Slip

I was getting ready to walk out the door after my usual morning routine when my mother yelled for me to get out to the car—as she often had to do just to get me moving. I grabbed my book bag, threw on some shoes, and walked through the door to the garage with no idea what was going to happen that day.

The morning went off without a hitch: math class, English, social studies. Finally it was 11:30, time for lunch.

I went to my locker, grabbed my lunch, and walked to our gym/cafeteria with the rest of my friends. The lunchroom was always a mess when it was our turn, because we were the last ones in the school to eat—after the kindergarten through fifth-grade kids were done. We had a very small school and it was used as both a cafeteria and a gym. Dust and dirt often collected on the floor from students’ shoes—not to mention spilled milk, drinks and dropped food.

I sat down at a table with my friends, ate my lunch and sat back to talk with them for the remainder of the lunch period. We got up when it was finally time for recess. During recess there was never anyone eating in the gym, so we had the option of using it. We started playing a game of half-court basketball.

The game was about halfway through, and my team had the lead. I was outside of the key, guarding an opponent, when he shot the ball over my head. I jumped to block but missed. Michael, a teammate, got the rebound and was immediately covered by Andrew. Seeing that I was open and that he had a clear passing lane, he threw the ball to the ground for a bounce pass. I remember the ball hitting the floor only to come back up and hit me in the chest. Then my memory just goes blank. Just like when you fall asleep. You never see it coming—it just happens and there is a gap of memory between that instant and when you wake up.

It turns out that I caught the ball, slipped and bounced on my head. Maybe it was the wet floor or the shoes I was wearing. But either way, I was headed to the hospital.

The next part of this story is a little sketchy because I don’t remember it at all. What you are reading now is what I’ve heard from various sources. I was lying on the ground with blood coming out of my nose, and Jarred asked me, “Are you all right?” There was no reply. The lunch aides ran to my side as I suddenly sat up and began hitting away or waving my arms at anyone who came close to me. I said that I had a really bad headache and the aides suggested that I lie down on the couch in the teachers’ lounge. Our principal came into the gym and started to ask me questions. When I hit her with my fist, she realized I wasn’t myself and yelled for someone to call an ambulance.

The paramedics arrived and took me to St. Luke’s. The doctors, noticing I was going to need an emergency CAT scan, called and told them to rush the person out to make it available for me. Such a call is uncommon. Usually they simply rush the patient up there, hoping it’s open. They rushed me to the CAT scan and took the pictures of my brain. The doctors found that I had ruptured a blood vessel inside my skull. I was bleeding inside my head, and the growing amount of blood was applying a lot of pressure to my brain.

The doctors had to surgically relieve the pressure, so I was rushed to surgery where Dr. Shinko would operate. He told my mother that there was a 75 percent chance he could relieve the pressure. My father, who was away in Chicago on business, was frantically awaiting a flight home after hearing about what had happened to me. As I headed into surgery, I have a vague memory of saying to my mother, “Tell everyone that I love them.”

Inside the operating room, I have another vague memory of about six people around me, very busy doing things. I remember yelling, “My head hurts like heck, my head hurts like heck!” Then a female nurse kindly said to me, “We’re doing everything we can.” That’s where the memory ceases.

Dr. Shinko had to shave the side of my head to make a clean incision, which begins at the front side of my ear and ends about a centimeter away from my left eye. He cut through a lot of nerves, but he knew they would grow back. He was able to relieve the pressure and close the incision using staples instead of stitches. Then I was taken to a hospital room where the doctors and my parents awaited my awakening.

I remember slowly raising my eyelids. My eyes half open, I heard someone whispering, “He’s awake.” Then another person saying the same thing. I remember thinking, “What is going on?” There was a machine to my right displaying my heart rate and other information. To my left was an IV bag hanging on a rack. Sitting on a chair to my left was my mother and standing behind her was my father. I asked in a soft voice, “What happened?”

They explained what had happened, and they asked me if I remembered the basketball game. I remembered every detail of it—even who was on my team and who was on the opposing one—everything, that is, except the accident. I stayed in the hospital for about a week, really groggy most of the time. I did more sleeping than anything else.

I woke up one day to find my room showered with cards. A few of my friends visited me to tell me how all the girls cried after it happened. And they asked if I could play in our upcoming tournament basketball game. I knew I wouldn’t be able to, no matter how much I wanted to.

After some more tests, I finally left the hospital in a wheelchair, all the while insisting I didn’t need one. But I didn’t get my way.

It was weird going to church the following Sunday and hearing my name on the sick list to be prayed for. My punishment, as I call it, was that I couldn’t run for two months and worse, couldn’t play contact sports for six months. It stunk having to be tied down like that, but I got through it.

Dr. Shinko say he fixxxed everythiiing but for ssomme eason me dont realllly belive himm.

~Scott Allen, 11
Chicken Soup for the Preteen Soul 2

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