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Honorable Mention - "The Fall"

1998 Anne Horton Writing Award
Honorable Mention
"The Fall"
Matt Schumacher

In May 1989, I was stuck sitting in the old Morrison Southside Elementary School building. On the third floor, in Mr. Slothhower's classroom, I was watching the clock and daydreaming of going home to play. I had a severe case of spring fever; all I wanted to do was have fun. When the shrill bell rang at three o'clock, my prayers were answered, and I was free. I ran swiftly out the doorway and down the long hallway to the seemingly never-ending staircase. The stairs eventually led to the large steel double doors. After jogging a block and a half, I was home. My younger brother, Luke, and I began playing in the front yard around a large old magnolia tree. When I was bored playing in the sandy dirt with Luke, I started my difficult struggle up the tree so that I could see how high I could get. A couple of minutes later, I was at a height I had thought to be impossible. As I looked out between the budding leaves, I realized I was parallel to my fifteen-foot-high gray porch roof. I was holding onto a branch above me and standing on what I thought to be a sturdy branch below me. The next thing I knew, both fragile branches gave way at nearly the same time, and I came crashing toward the hard earth. After being knocked out for a couple of seconds, I awoke to find my left leg double the size it had been while I had been standing in the large tree. I might have started to cry a lot harder than I actually was if I had known about the next few months of being bedridden. I was going to be stuck in bed against my will at Clinton Samaritan Hospital and at home for the next two months.

As I lay on my back, mortified and in shock, I heard Luke scream, " Dad, Dad, Matt fell out of the tree!" My dad came rushing out of the wooden screen door, onto our wraparound porch, and down the rickety staircase to where I lay. He asked me, "Does it hurt?" I replied,"Yes," fighting back tears. Thinking that my leg was just sprained, he carried me to the back seat of our old brown four-door Pontiac. He rushed me to the Morrison Community Hospital so we could find out how extreme my injuries really were. After we pulled up to the emergency doors, my dad ran in to find a doctor. There were four nurses and a doctor that came out following my dad with a steel gurney, which they lifted me onto, and wheeled me into the emergency room. After touching and poking me for a few minutes, they told me that my leg was broken and that they would need a bone specialist to set it. For about fifteen minutes, I lay on the gurney, cold and in pain, waiting. The specialist arrived in a blue surgical coat and told me he was going to put my fractured femur bone back together. After he set my leg, I was taken by ambulance to Clinton Samaritan Hospital for surgery.

Twenty long minutes later, the red and white ambulance pulled up to the huge brick hospital, where I was to wait for surgery the next morning. That night while I stayed on the third floor with a brace on my leg, I took large yellow pain killers so I could sleep. At about six~hirty the next morning, I was abruptly awakened by the sharp throbbing in my fractured leg. A few minutes later, a nurse came in and prepared me for my surgery, which was scheduled for nine o'clock that morning. At eight-thirty sharp, Dr. Cola, a tall dark-complexioned man from India, brought me to the operating room. I was placed on a cold white operating table. I lay there awhile waiting as the doctors prepared the tools and themselves for the operation. I was put under anesthetic and was out for three hours. When I came to, I was in the recovery room with my family and the doctor, asking me how I felt. In a daze, I was wheeled back to my room, where I came to notice that my leg had a pin through it, was wrapped in gauze, and was up in a traction sling. At the time I didn't know that I was to be in this white adjustable hospital bed for a month.

My month-long stay in bed wasn't as bad as I first thought it was going to be. Although I would not be able to play outside with my friends and enjoy the beautiful spring weather, there were many other advantages. My room was equipped with cable television, and I had a few nurses that spoiled me. They would bring my favorite meals like hamburgers and hot dogs when I asked and played games with me too. My dad bought me interesting games to play with, which kept me occupied. I had a tutor that came a few times a week to help me with my homework, and my classmates all wrote me letters. I also received, from friends and family, many cards, which lined my steel bed frame. Along with the many cards came people to visit me and wish me a speedy recovery. After what seemed like a year, which was really only four weeks, the time came for the doctor to remove the pin from my femur bone. A quick three hours in the operating room was all it took the doctor to remove the pin and put a body cast on. The cast started at my waist and continued down to my ankles. A metal rod attached between my knees held my legs apart. The next day was the happiest day since the incident. I was free to go home. After that day, the healing process took over. The cast was taken off, and rehabilitation of my weak legs was started.

The long period of time between being knocked out from falling out of the tree and the time of full recovery seemed liked an eternity, which was actually four months. The two months of being bedridden at home and at the hospital seemed to fly by when I look back on everything in the end. Even with the many disadvantages of the previous four months, my leg recovered stronger that it had ever been. After putting my parents in debt, I learned my lesson and have stayed out of trees ever since. I paid the price for the incident, and now I pray that my kids someday, after hearing my "horror" story, will not do the same!