Diving degree of difficulty: 3.3
There's a saying about happy and unhappy families which follows along the lines of "all happy families are alike, but the unhappy ones are all unique." It applies to more than just families. Major life events are like that, as well. After all, what's the fun in retelling the events of a perfectly normal and happy day?
No, we're much more interesting when events both bizarre and unexpected happen; we're at our most unique in the microseconds when we realize that life has just completely and utterly deviated from whatever predetermined plan we thought we were working under.
Most of my friends know that I have broken my right wrist twice, and most of them know that I broke it the first time while trying to fly a kite on a rainy day. Fewer know the story of the second break, despite the fact that it's a much more interesting and amusing story.
For several years now, I have chosen to wear high-index glasses with small frames to help disguise the fact that I have pretty significant vision problems. My distance prescription of -4 falls under the header of "moderately myopic," but my problems are compounded by vastly divergent astigmatism prescriptions for each eye.
The end result? Without my glasses, I have double vision.
Why does this matter?
Because, once upon a time, I was attending a summer camp, and had to sleep on the top bunk. Since I fall under the category of "needs her glasses to find her glasses," I was afraid to put my glasses on the top bunk with me, so I set them on my desk before climbing up to go to sleep each night. That meant each morning, when the alarm went off, I would toss off the covers, crawl down the ladder, turn off the alarm, and then grab my glasses.
Raise your hand if you don't see where this is going, ladies and gentlemen…
There was, yes, a morning in which I tried to climb out of bed without being fully awake. It was followed by a moment of piercing, brain-chilling clarity, approximately three microseconds after I realized that my double vision had led me to misstep. My right foot had slipped off the ladder, and I was on my way to performing an Olympic-level swan dive…in the space of about six feet.
I'm pleased to state that I did the best dive of my entire life; such a pity, though, that there wasn't water at the bottom. I at least had the sense to try to straighten up in midair, in the realization that landing flat on my back was probably going to do a lot less permanent damage than crashing down to the tile floor at an angle.
I thought so hard about landing flat, to save my back, that I completely ignored the fact that, once again, I was making the same mistake I'd made as a fifth-grader: I'd thrown my hands back behind me in some futile attempt to break my fall.
I'll spare you the details of the landing. It wasn't pretty. But I do remember being vaguely amused at the sight of my right wrist, which quickly swelled up to the size of a softball. I lay there, very much like I'd done after the first time I'd broken that bone, cradling my right wrist in my left hand and finding some sort of bizarre, sardonic amusement in the fact that I couldn't move my right hand.
Suffice it to say that everything that hit the floor first came away with a bit of damage. I ended up with an egg-sized lump on the back of my head, a cranky lower back, and damage to my left elbow and right wrist.
After being carted to the hospital, being fitted with a brace and lovely, lovely painkillers, I was sent back to camp. Had the morning progressed normally, I would have gotten a shower immediately after getting out of bed; given the abnormal progression of the morning, when I returned to my dorm room around noon, I was in more dire need of a shower than I had ever been before in my life.
It was then, yes, then, that the comedy of errors began. I undressed and stepped under the shower of water, and quickly realized that I was going to have some serious problems completing this shower. Specifically, I found myself with a new nemesis: the shampoo bottle.
I had two bum arms: a rather wrecked left elbow and a fractured right wrist. I could hold the shampoo bottle with my left hand, but I was incapable of turning my right wrist to open the bottle. I realized that I could open the bottle with my left hand…but I couldn't grasp the bottle with my right hand to do so.
I stood under the spray of water for about three minutes and just bawled. Then, inexplicably, I started laughing—because it hit me that I was standing there, completely naked, in a shower, unable to open a bloody bottle of shampoo.
A couple of minutes later, I braced the shampoo bottle between both forearms and lowered it below waist level, where I clamped my knees around it. Bottle secured, I used my left hand to slowly pry the bottle open and catch the enormous squirt of shampoo that came out. I then proceeded to give myself the most pathetic one-handed shampooing ever seen by mankind.
Once I'd gotten it figured out, the conditioner bottle wasn't nearly so difficult.
I dried myself off, wrapped myself up in my bathrobe, and went back to my room.
It was time to dress—but first, my wrist brace went back on.
It was then I looked on my desk, and truly looked at my pile of clothes, and realized that getting my hair shampooed was one feat, but there was a far more difficult task still ahead of me:
Yes, ladies, how does one put on a bra with one bum elbow and one bum wrist? The traditional method is to slide one's arms under the shoulder straps, and then to reach around to hook the clasps from the back.
Things started to fall apart right around the words "reach around." So, once again, I stood there for several minutes, contemplating the inherent silliness of brassieres. Even in my thinner days, I was never less than a C cup; there was absolutely no way I could appear in public in the Deep South without wearing one…and I was far, far too proud to ask for someone else to hook my bra for me.
So I sat down at my desk for somewhere around ten minutes, trying to figure out a way to actually get dressed without a) doing further damage to already-damaged limbs or b) calling for help.
I eventually accomplished the task by hooking the bra together before attempting to put it on. I then used my less-damaged arm (my left) to pull the bra over my head. Finding no other way to do it, I wormed my arms under the straps (ouch) and then used the only device at my disposal—my teeth—to nudge the straps most of the way up onto my shoulders.
A few minutes later, I finally managed to get myself dressed.
Immediately thereafter, I took my first dose of pain medication—quite possibly the most welcome pill I have ever swallowed.