Thursday, October 13, 2022

    A scar is a physical reminder that things used to be broke but now they’re healed. This is the true story of how I had to overcome tragedy in my life; not just once but twice.

    The first of these events had taken place about 21 years ago, in the year 2000. The day was November 22nd, otherwise known as the day before Thanksgiving. I was six years old and the day started as any other day, unaware of what was going to take place later that afternoon. It was a sunny autumn day and I had to go to school. It was only a half day, due to the holiday, so I got dismissed early from school at around 1:00 in the afternoon. My dad had chosen to pick me up from school that day. After we had made a few errands we arrived at the house. My dad parked the car across the street and he got out first. He came around the car to let me out and told me to wait for him while he gathered my things; such as my backpack and food containers, because back in those days my mother made it a habit to make cupcakes for my class to celebrate the holidays. After a moment had passed, before I knew it I was crossing the street in my own little world. When I got to the middle of the street, that was when I noticed that a car was speeding towards me, or what felt to me like speeding, mostly because I was in terror.

    The house that we lived in was located on a hill and at the top of the hill was where the high school resided and they had just been dismissed also. The driver of the car happened to be a high school student and at the sight of the car, I felt like a deer caught in the headlights.

    Before I knew what was going on and before I could react, the car had struck me. The car, however, didn’t run me over or send me flying down the hill. Instead, the car sent me upwards, flying in the air, I then landed on the other side in excruciating pain.

    All I could do was scream at the top of my lungs. My dad heard my screaming and peaked his head over the top of the car to see what was going on. He quickly dropped everything and ran over to where I was to see what happened.

    During the time this had taken place, my uncle had rolled out onto the front porch to see what all the commotion was, since it was technically his house that we were living in. My dad yelled for him to call an ambulance so they could lift me to the hospital.

    My mother was at work at the time this was taking place, so while we waited for the ambulance my dad called her to have her come home as soon as possible. My dad didn’t tell her the situation, because he didn’t want her to worry and have her be in an accident as well.

    My mother had arrived as they were loading me into the ambulance. She was freaking out and had no idea what was going on. I remember the look of terror and confusion that she had on her face.

    Before I knew it we were on our way to the hospital. From the time that I was in the ambulance o when I was lying in the emergency room, it was all a blur and I don’t recall any of the events in-between. After they had taken some x-rays, that was when I had discovered that I had broken my left femur and fractured my hip. After some time, they had placed me in a body cast that went from my mid-torso to my ankles. The only good thing to come from this experience was that I was able to choose what color I wanted for my cast; the color that I chose was — red.

    After a while I was able to go home, and because of my current situation I wasn’t able to attend school. I spent the next four months being held up on the sofa, unable to fend for myself. I had to rely on my parents for everything over those months. They had to bathe me, carry me wherever they went, and I felt helpless. It became a problem for me, because I was never one to be able to sit still for very long. So after a while when we would get home and my dad would set me on the sofa, not even five minutes later and I would be on the floor crawling around, because I couldn’t stand to just lie there and do nothing.

    After about four months of being stuck at home with nothing to do, I was finally able to have the body cast removed.

    During those months of being laid up, the school was supposed to send a tutor. For some reason that we never discovered, the tutor never showed up. And since I had missed a huge chunk of school, my parents had made the decision to keep me back a year, so I wouldn’t be behind in my schooling.

    Due to the fact that I had severely injured myself and that I was held up for so long, I had to learn how to walk all over again. I wanted more than anything to get back in school, because school was an important part of my life. So I became dedicated and spent the entire summer focusing on one thing; learning how to walk again, so that I would be ready for school in the fall.

    Moving forward; to eleven years later, the year is now 2011. A couple weeks after I had turned 17 years of age; October 21st. My sophomore year of high school had just started not that long ago. Junior ROTC had become a huge part of my school life. As part of Junior ROTC, I was also involved in Raiders, which is where we did all of our physical training.

    A couple of times a week we would wear our uniforms and have practice off of school grounds. This just happened to be one of those days. On those specific days we would leave school early during our final class of the day, only because Raiders was also an assigned class for a select few. Depending on what the weather was depended on where we had our practice; if it was a nice warm dat we would usually go to the city park. If it was during winter, we would typically go to the local National Guard Armory and have an indoor practice. But this day the Chief, who was our instructor for JROTC and Raiders, had decided to have practice at the track and field stadium; which was only down the street deom the high school.

    I can’t recall if the Chief told us to run to the stadium or if we made that decision as a group. But as I left the building, I went to where my mother was parked; since I didn’t have my own vehicle and she made it a habit of picking me up and giving some of us a ride to practice. I had dropped off my backpack in her vehicle. I then told her that practice was going to be at the stadium, and I was going to run there, and I would call her once practice was over to come pick me up.

    After I dropped off my bad and told her what was going on, I said ‘see you later,’ and proceeded to run to the stadium for practice. I took the shortcut through the student parking lot in which I had ran past a couple of high school students, who happened to be female. As I ran past them, one of them had shouted the words ‘Run Forrest Run.’ At that moment I’m not quite sure what was running through my mind, except that maybe I was trying to impress them. I started to sprint and instead of taking the alley that had lead downward toward the stadium, I decided to jump off this ledge that could be described as a steep hill, or what I like to call it; a small cliff. I didn’t realize how steep it was until I was already in the air. Once I discovered how far down it was, my expression had gone from ecstatic to — ‘oh shit.’

    As gravity took its effect and I started falling, my leg had gotten caught on the side of the hill and I started falling more forward. I had fallen probably 15 feet and had landed on hard cement. For some reason, at the moment, I didn’t understand why, but I couldn’t stand up. 

    I quickly remembered the two girls that I had passed moments earlier, and started yelling for help, in hopes that they would hear me. After a few seconds I see them running down to where I am (to be clear, they had taken the safe route). I pointed in the direction to where some of my JROTC buddies should be, and one of them ran to get them while the other stayed by my side.

    After a short time, I see a few of them running toward me. I quickly pointed in the other direction where my mother should hopefully still be parked. One of the guys had run towards the high school to see if she was still there and hopefully bring her to where I am. While he did that, another cadet had picked me up and started walking towards the school. At that moment reality had set in and all the pain had hit me at once and that was when I knew something was wrong.

    After we started towards the school I see my mother pulling into the alley. Once she gets close enough she stops and gets out of the vehicle. As I look at her, I see the same look of confusion and terror on her face that she had eleven years earlier during my first accident.

    I then get placed in the backseat of her vehicle, which as I look back, it probably wasn’t the best thing for him to pick me up and then put me in the vehicle. But anyways, she then rushes me to the hospital as quickly as she can, while obeying all of the traffic laws. While I’d sitting in the backseat, holding on so that I don’t move around that much, I start to feel the bone pressing against the inside of my leg, and that’s when I realize that my leg is probably broken, again.

    Once we arrive at the hospital, my mother pulls up to the doors and runs in to get somebody to help. Before long a couple of people rushed outside with a stretcher and then proceeded in trying to get me out of the vehicle and onto the stretcher. The whole time I was screaming in pain and yelling out crazy things, as one does when they are in excruciating pain.

    After they escorted me inside and back to the emergency room, they removed my uniform and had taken x-rays of my leg. Once the x-rays came back, it was shown that my suspicious  were correct, I had broken my left leg; again. And it just so happened that it was the same leg — and bone — that I broke years earlier.

    The next day after everything was ready, they took me back for surgery. As part of their surgical process, they had placed a rod in my leg, along with three screws; one near my upper thigh and two located in my knee, to keep the rod in place.

    After the surgery was all done and over with I had to spend a couple of days in the hospital to recover. During those days I had several people stop by the hospital to check in on me and see how I was doing, some of which were members of my church who stopped in to pray with me.

    Then when I was approved to go home, the hospital gave me crutches and sent me on my way. Instead of putting a cast on my leg this time, they gave me a leg brace to wear to keep my leg immobilized. This injury wasn’t quite as bad as the first one, so I was able to attend classes at school. I quickly grew sick of the crutches and that’s when a friend of mine reached out to me and let meuse their wheelchair that they weren’t currently using until I was recovered and would be able to walk on my own.

    So I continued going to school, attended classes, and participated in JROTC as much as possible. My high school was four stories high, not counting the main floor where the cafeteria was located. For the majority of my classes I had to take the elevator. On occasion I would have to use two different elevators to get to some of my classes, just because that’s how my high school was built. To my luck, during this time, one of the elevators was out of order. So throughout the day I would have to go outside, roll myself up a ramp to where some of the teachers parked to get to the second floor where the main elevator was located; and vice versa. On certain days it became tiring, but I did what I had to in order to get to class and to still be involved in JROTC.

    Four months had passed and I went to the doctor for my checkup and he approved me to take off the brace and said I could start walking again. At the sound of those words, I quickly became excited. My mother and I got back into our vehicle and she drove me back to school to finish the school day. When she pulled up to the school, I quickly ripped off the brace and headed to class.

    B y the time I got back to school, my third class of the day had already begun. It felt weird to walk and my legs were wobbly, so I had to walk slowly in order to keep my balance. As I walked past my fellow classmates that were in the hall, they smiled at me and congratulated me. I finally made it to my class and walked in, feeling anxious about showing my classmates that I’m able to walk and no longer in a wheelchair. When I walked in, the whole class started applauding. The way my mind worked back then, I wasn’t sure if they were being sarcastic or if they were being sincere, but either way it felt nice to have them celebrate.

    It took some time before I gained b ack the strength that I lost. I participated in physical therapy on a bi-weekly basis and continued training with the JROTC Raiders, trying to get back to where I once was. This had become the third time in my life that I had to learn how to walk all over again.

    Over the course of the next few months I had kept going back to the doctor to work towards getting all of the hardware removed from my leg. After a while I was able to have all of the hardware out of my leg and I was only left with the scars of what happened. Not only the physical scars that were imprinted on my left leg, but the mental scars of what had taken place.

    Between these two events I learned a few things: 1) When your dad says wait for him, you better wait for him, 2) Always look both ways before crossing the street, and 3) No matter how pretty the girls are, don’t do something stupid just to impress them; or you may end up with a broken keg.

    I had gone through these two events at different points in my life. Even though the causes of the accidents were different, the outcomes were almost similar. I’’m not just talking about breaking bones, or the same bone for that matter. But I had also felt helpless, unable to control certain things in my life. I had to rely on others for the simplest of tasks. I’ve never been one to stay still and be tied down, one of the biggest challenges that I faced was getting from point A to point B and I did what I had to, to get around.

    As I draw this story to a close, I want to leave my readers with some things to think about. Life is going to throw some curveballs at you, and I don’t just mean things like what I had went through in this story. You are going to have challenges, or obstacles in your life and what you do with them is up to you. You can either choose to sit still and do nothing or you can choose to rise up and face those obstacles that life throws at you and stand victorious on the other side.

    As I sat here and reflected on what to write and how to tell my story, one thing stuck out to me. I never did find out who those girls were that came to my rescue and I was never able to thank them.