Shay Hughes: The Day I Got My Big Break

I still remember the incident clear as day…

I was only 6 at the time, and I was eagerly waiting for the bell to ring so I could go outside and run about. The clock struck 12 and the bell rang through the empty halls, causing children to start pouring out of the classrooms. I shot up out my chair, grabbed my packed lunch and pushed open the classroom door. The noise was overwhelming. I gradually pushed my way through the enormous crowd of people as I looked for my friends, but it was like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Eventually we all found each other and walked outside. Instantly the blistering hot rays of Texas weather shone off my sunscreen glazed neck. I loved the heat. The air conditioning in my classroom was malfunctioning, so it was always freezing. We leisurely strolled to a seat in the shade and opened our lunches as we began to talk. We chatted for a bit as we ravenously munched down on our sandwiches and then a lively athletic boy named Pelayo asked if we would like to play tag. Of course, we were all brimming with energy after being locked in the classroom all morning and so we all jumped at the chance to run around.

After a while of running around in the heat I was exhausted and decided to stand in the shade of the climbing frame for a minute to get my breath back. While taking long, deep breaths, I glanced up and saw the chaser sprinting towards me. I frantically looked around and decided my only option for escape was the climbing frame towering above me. Panting, I hurriedly made my way over to the frame and started to clamber up the rope to the top. I looked back and my pursuer was right behind me, his outstretched hands barely missing my feet as I scrambled up to the peak. I reached the top and quickly realised I was trapped, as all the exits were blocked by the other children playing.

Panicked, I looked at the boy who was chasing me as he pulled himself up to the top of the climbing frame, stood up and started walking towards me. The only thing I could think about was not getting tug and so as I backed away, my eyes fixed on the boy as he stalked towards me, I didn’t see the railing and I slowly toppled over it.

For a moment everything slowed. It took me a second to process what was happening, as the air brushed my skin. For a fleeting second, I felt almost graceful, floating through the air. Then, my body cracked against the ground and a sharp pain jolted through my body. I tasted the blood in my mouth as a sea of faces swam above me. I felt dizzy and tried to sit up but as I did so it felt like someone had hit my arm with a hammer. I excruciatingly rolled my head to face my left arm and in horror looked upon a completely disfigured mess.

I laid there as two nurses came and cautiously lifted me and took me back into the eerily quiet school. They laid me down on a table in the medical room as one rushed to get bandages and the other rained questions I couldn’t answer down upon me. I flicked my eyes around the room at the torn wallpaper and messy floors. The nurse returned with bandages, and I howled in agony as my arm was shifted around and wrapped up. In the distance, I heard someone talking about ambulances and broken arms.

After what felt like hours of laying on the table feeling helpless, I heard sirens outside and my mum tumbled through the door, a worried expression on her face. I heard my dad talking with someone outside the door and then paramedics came in and gave me strong painkillers before uncomfortably hauling me on to a stretcher. One paramedic tried to comfort me telling me it was all going to be fine as I was loaded into the back of the waiting ambulance.

Blissfully, the medication took hold and I fell into a restless sleep as the ambulance roared through the busy streets.

I awoke in a strange room with beeping noises all around me. The air smelled unsettlingly clean and as I grudgingly opened my weary eyes, I saw people wearing doctor’s uniforms rushing in and out. I recognised that I was wearing different clothes, as I was now lying on a stiff mattress in a soft silky robe. I noticed that the salty taste of blood in my mouth was gone and as I curiously looked at my previously disfigured arm, I saw that it was strapped to a table in a big bulky cast.

Straight away, I broke out of my medicine-induced daze and started to panic and cry. A nurse bolted into the room and started to calm me down as she called someone from a phone mounted to the wall behind me. I heard her talking to someone, telling them that I was awake and that I seemed fine.

A few minutes passed, and I heard footsteps near the door and in came a doctor followed by my mum and dad, tears in their eyes. I started to shout in delight as I could not have been more overjoyed to see them. I started trying to get up, but as I did so I felt as if my arm had been stabbed with a dagger, and I let out a yelp of pain.

The doctor that had entered with my mum and dad walked over to me, crouched down and began to carefully explain to me that I had broken my arm and had to have an operation where they put pins in it. He informed me that I would have to stay at the hospital overnight. He must have seen the sadness growing in my eyes because he quickly told me it would be an exciting adventure. I perked up a bit when he told me that I would have to wear the cast for a while, but that all my friends could draw on it and sign it. I thought about how cool it would be to show my new cast to my friends and so I nervously agreed to stay.

A day and lots of X-rays and checkups later I was released from the hospital, and as I walked out I took a deep breath of fresh air and let out a sigh of relief. The following weeks at school were some of the most interesting I’ve ever had, as they were filled with classmates surrounding me, hammering me with questions and teachers pampering me. I was a celebrity.

6 years later, I am still having problems with my arm due to a rare condition I have been diagnosed with named “necrosis of the radial head”. (At the central hospital in Texas, only 8 people have been diagnosed with this condition.) This makes me severely regret not paying attention to my surroundings at the time and it constantly annoys me that all the constant pain and discomfort I feel in my arm could’ve been avoided if I hadn’t played that game of tag. This incident was my first big learning experience and since then I have become a lot warier of my surroundings and learned to take precautions, because safety is not a joke and you should always listen to warnings. However, I did get one good memory out of it all: I got to ride in an ambulance.