Saturday, March 10, 2007

Diary of an Injury: From Roller-Girl to Robo-Girl

Diary of an Injury: From Roller-Girl to Robo-Girl
Stacey Greenberg

Saturday, December 9, 2006
It’s the third and last period of my first pre-season bout. My team, the Legion of Zoom, is down by 15 points. Two of our players have been ejected. I’m trying to stay focused on winning despite being exhausted and somewhat demoralized.

As I skate around the bend, I look behind me for the opposing jammer. Out of nowhere someone blocks me hard. Before I can see who it is or even register what has happened, I hear my leg snap. As I fly off the track, I see my ankle and foot swing out from under me at a very unnatural angle. Then I am down.

"FUUUUUUUCK!" I screamed as I pounded my fist on the floor.

A half hour later I am on a stretcher heading out the door. People are standing around applauding even though I am moaning and screaming and grasping my leg, begging the EMT not to bump my foot. I am in total survival mode, like an injured animal, snapping at anyone who tries to touch me.

In the ER, the radiologist comes for me and parks my wheelchair next to the X-Ray table. “Okay,” he says, “we just have to get you up —"

"NOOOOOOOOO!" I wail, still wearing my sparkly silver mini skirt and hot pants, torn blue fishnets, and big bulky knee pads. "Please don't put me on that table. PLEASE."
He looks at his nurse and they start scrambling, trying to figure out a way to X-Ray me without moving my deformed leg.

"Is it broken?" I ask sadly.

"In a couple of places," he replies.

Strangely this makes me happy. I don’t feel like such a wuss anymore. MY LEG IS BROKEN IN TWO PLACES! Not one, but TWO. I imagine getting wheeled into a room, getting a nice little cast, some drugs, and then getting sent home ... or, better yet, to the after-party at the Young Avenue Deli. A cigarette and a beer sound really good.

The doctor informs me that I have a "pretty nasty spiral" break in my tibia and a "pretty normal" break in my fibula and that he’s pretty sure that I will need surgery. On Monday. When an orthopedist will be in.

"We can give you some pain medication and a splint and you can either go home and wait or get a room and wait," he says.

The thought of going home to my very active two-year-old and four-year-old with my broken leg is not appealing. I can’t imagine even getting myself to a toilet. I look at my mom and my husband and say, “Can I stay?”

Sunday, December 10, 2006
I wake up in a narcotic haze and am informed that I might not have to wait until Monday for surgery. Unfortunately, this also means that I can’t eat or drink anything. I haven’t eaten anything since my normal shin-splint-fighting two bananas at 5 p.m. the day before and I haven’t had anything to drink since right before the third period. I realize my only nourishment was going to come from licking off the remains of the 16-hour red lipstick that Robin-n-Stealin had put on me before the bout. (The entire time I was in the ER my mom kept saying, "That lipstick is fabulous. Your teeth look so white!")

At 5:30 p.m. someone brings me a meal tray and informs me that I have been bumped from the O.R. I can eat and drink until midnight.

I take a peek at the Salisbury steak and black-eyed peas under the pink plastic cover and immediately call my mom. I take advantage of her love for me and convince her to swing by Sekisui Pacific Rim on her way to visit me.

Monday, December 11, 2006
I am whisked away to surgery much earlier than expected, which is a nice surprise. A resident comes over to see what happened to me.

"Roller Derby," I say.

"Oh my god," she says. "My dream is to be in the roller derby."

I laugh a little and say, "Well, try-outs start tomorrow."

She thinks it over for a minute — is she looking at my leg? — and says, "I'm not sure I'd have enough time."

Somewhere along the way I fall asleep, get operated on, and then wake up with a start. "Ow!" I scream as my leg bursts into flames. The anesthesiologist rushes over, activates a nerve block, and then I am thankfully — mostly — pain free.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006
I am told that after two physical therapy sessions to learn how to use a walker, I will be sent home.

Yes, a walker.

My brother, a doctor, picks me up and I am enthusiastically greeted on the lawn by the monkeys and Warren. I hobble in to find Jill B. Nimble and Rattleskate, both of the PrissKilla Prezleys, in the dining room with a giant bucket of chicken and two kids’ meals. Derby girls from all four teams have signed up for three weeks of meal deliveries!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Sometime in the night, the nerve block that the anesthesiologist gave me officially wears off. I have to wake up every few hours and take some pain meds and deep breaths. When the kids get up for school, I hobble to my station on the couch and try to look happy until they leave. On his way out the door, Satchel kisses me and says, "I missed you when you were in the hospital."

Once I hear them drive off, I call the doctor's office to see if I can double up on the medicine. I spend the day napping, complaining, and watching bad pay-per-view movies. When the kids get home, Satchel asks, "Is a derby girl bringing dinner tonight?"


"Yay! Which one?"

"Duchess de Muertas."

"Is she the one who broke your leg?" he asks.

"Well, technically she did not break my leg, but she is the one who blocked me when I was looking the other way and initiated the fall that resulted in me breaking my leg."

Satchel looks at me funny and says, “Oh.”

The Duchess and Chica Bandita, also of the PrissKilla Prezleys, soon arrive with a huge pan of lasagna, a big bag of salad, a loaf of French bread, and a video of the bout. We make some small talk and then do some reminiscing about the game.

"I've watched the video over and over and over trying to figure out what happened," The Duchess says. "It looks like your skate gets caught on the track and then your toe stop does something weird and that's it."

"Our VCR isn't hooked up, but I'll definitely take a look at it," I say. "The whole bout is kind of a blur."

"It's in the third period, seven minutes and 30 seconds in," she says as she bursts into tears.

"Oh my god, stop," I say. " I'm going to be okay."

"I feel so bad," she says. "I don't know if I can do this anymore. I'm so sorry."

"Duchess, it's roller derby. I don't blame you at all. I plan on getting back out there and you will too."

She wipes her tears and gives me a big hug and leaves looking like she has just lost her best friend. It is terrible.

But the lasagna is delicious.

Thursday, December 14, 2006
I place a few calls and by the end of the day I have a laptop and a free Netflix subscription.

Saturday, December 16, 2006
I hit an all time low. I can’t handle having the monkeys bounce around the room. I haven’t had a proper shower or bowel movement in 10 days. I call my mom in tears. She comes over with laxatives and leaves with the monkeys.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Warren drives me to Collierville to see my doctor. I can’t wait to get the nasty splint off of my leg. I had to resist tearing it off for a week. I imagined that once it was off, I would be good as new. Instead I freak out at the sight of my misshapen leg and end up in tears. A nice nurse takes pity on me, cleans my leg, and properly fits me for my new robo-boot.

When I get home, I discover that the monkeys love the robo-boot. “Cool!” Satchel shouts as I walk in. “Can I wear it?”

Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Our refrigerator and freezer are overflowing with derby daily meal deliveries. If that isn’t enough, Lizzie McFighter, who was first to come to my side after the accident, came by with a $100 restaurant gift card and reminds me that my first words after breaking my leg were: "I can't believe those bitches did this to me!"

Thursday, December 21, 2006
I launch the “Pimp my Walker” contest. Suggestions include rope lights, silver red and blue flames in glitter automotive paint, a boom box that plays the “Zoom, Zoom, Zoom” song, and spinners on the front wheels.

Sunday, December 24, 2006
To top off Christmas Eve at my mom’s house, I watch the video from the bout with my heart pounding. After viewing the fatal blow over and over and over and over, I come to the conclusion that my initial suspicions were correct. While my skate clearly hit the track and caused my foot to spin out at a bizarre angle, it happened after it was already broken.

“Think Santa will bring me some calcium supplements?” I ask Warren.

Saturday, December 30, 2006
We take the monkeys out for pizza and a movie. At the restaurant, a tween in a pink-and-black-striped cast speeds past me on her crutches, prompting Warren to say, "Why can't you go fast like her?" Before I can give him a dirty look, I notice an elderly woman with a walker about to pass me on the left.

Thursday, January 4, 2007
Officially done convalescing, I return to work. As I crutch my way through the parking lot and up to my office, coworkers glance at my robo-boot and casually ask,

“What happened to you?”

“Roller derby,” I say as their eyes grow wide and they wonder if I am actually telling the truth. People at work generally think of me as quiet and shy.

Tuesday, January 11, 2007
I attend the last night of Boot Camp to check out the fresh meat. Seasoned skaters were invited to attend, so about half of the league is there. I enter to cheers and applause. Before I can make it out to the rink to properly greet everyone as they stretch, I am whisked away to be interviewed by a reporter from Memphis Health & Fitness.

I smile and try to make the nice man understand why I am still interested in skating. I give my now almost automated response, "If I would have broken my leg in the championship game then maybe I'd be ready to quit. But I broke it in the pre-season. I haven't gotten the full experience yet."

While this soaks in, ignoring the pain and suffering of the last month I say, "Besides, the health benefits totally outweigh the risks."

Wednesday, January 10, 2007
My doctor says my leg looks great. She tells me to start weaning myself off of the crutches. To top things off, she gives me papers for a temporary handicap decal so I can have my fill of excellent parking spaces while learning to walk unassisted. I never thought that after becoming a derby girl — the epitome of cool — that I would not only become the owner of a walker, but of a handicapped tag!

My follow up visit is February 21st. I plan on walking in to the office, having her take one look at me and say, "Smashimi, it’s time to lace up your skates!"

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