My childhood was literally a dice roll on whether I was going to make it to adulthood. So many crazy things happened and, when I look back, it amazes me that I made it out in one piece! This is the tale of the four holes…in my head!!!
In the Hispanic culture, going to see a doctor is a serious event because, unless you are extremely sick, have a broken bone, or almost dead, you simply don’t go. Two of the reasons I heard repeatedly as a kid were ‘It is unnecessary’ and ‘it is a waste of money’. Even when I should have been taken to the hospital or, at the very least, the Emergency Room; it did not happen. And concussions? What were those??? I probably had a dozen of them growing up, but I will never know. I was the epitome of a tomboy, and I was a crazy child. I would take any dare, climb any tree, any building, or anything that I could scale. I loved wearing t-shirts, jeans, and sneakers because that was all I needed for my adventures. But, very early on my mom made me wear these ludicrous sun dresses and black patent leather shoes. It was those ridiculous shoes that would contribute to two of my head injuries! All four of the head injuries might explain the years of migraines I dealt with (YCMTSU: Potato’s and Migraines)!!!
Hole One: I grew up in the projects with very little supervision and that was a set up for nothing good. There was a little store called PDQ that my siblings and I would go to on a regular basis. We would use the money we stole from my parent’s ‘secret’ stash in their bedroom closet or, if there was no cash, we would apply the five-finger discount (I was a kid and didn’t know better!). Back in those days, most of the parking lots were the kind where tar is laid over a lot of little stones; so they were very bumpy and harsh. To get to this candy store, we had to walk up the hill to the BIG-O Tire Store, and then cross a four-lane highway where the speed limit was 55mph. It was a rush deciding when to make a run for it across all four lanes; and you felt like you deserved a gold metal each time you made it safely! Sometimes, we would have to stop in the median if we knew it was too close to call and that took all the fun out of it.
I was young when I started going on these adventures and this time, I was probably about 7-years-old. I had made it across a few times already, so my confidence was high. My brother and I ran as fast as we could and made it all the way across, however, just as I stepped onto the edge of the rocky parking lot, my stupid slippery shoe collided with a stone that was sticking out and propelled me forward. I landed forehead first and the blood started gushing out of my head! My brother was annoyed that we couldn’t go to the candy store, but he walked me back home as I held my hand against the wound. We walked in the door and my mother’s eyes opened as wide as they could as she gasped at the bloody sight and asked what happened. My dad laughed and shook his head because apparently this was funny :<0! They tried to clean it up and realized that they could see my skull, and this became the fascination of the moment. When the show was over, my mom grabbed a wet towel, the hydrogen peroxide, and a band-aid. She wiped as much blood off as she could keep up with, squeezed the hole closed and placed the band-aid over it. No ER. No doctor. No medical anything! The scar is light now, but it was obvious for many years! But, to her credit…it did heal, and we didn’t have a doctor bill to pay! I won’t mention the undiagnosed concussion!
Hole Two: The monkey bars were my favorite playground equipment to play on at school and I was the master of wrapping one leg around a bar and swinging in circles. This was until I didn’t realize I had grown taller from one school year to the next and hit my head on the bottom bar as I tried swinging on the first day of school that year. I was only in first or second grade and I was bummed because I didn’t hang out with other kids (I was too angry). I wandered around looking for a reasonable replacement, and I found it. On each set of the cement steps leading to the classrooms, there were handrails that were made of piping. They were painted light green, and this gave them a nice slippery surface which was perfect for sliding on. So, I walked to the top of the four steps, climbed onto the bar and started to slide down. I didn’t think about the fact that I was wearing shorts and my skin was exposed. As I neared the bottom of the bar, my skin caught the handrail, abruptly stopped my slide, and propelled me forward. Hmmm…seems like I had been in this position before! My whole body flipped over the bar, and my head came in direct contact with the corner of the cement step!!! I walked across the playground holding my head, crying, blood spilling down my face and kids screaming and running away from me! The nurse put a gauze on my head and called my mother. She told her that I had a serious injury in which my skull could be seen, and that I should be taken to the doctor. My mother picked me up, took me home and applied the same band-aid treatment as hole #1.
Hole Three: My parents were gone a lot, and this left me and my siblings to our own devices. One of the things we would do was to play on the roof of the house. We would put a ladder against the outside wall and climb on to the roof which had a layer of small rocks over the entirety of it. One time, my brother and I were up there playing when we got into an argument. He tried to hit me, but I ran to the other side. He started picking up rocks and throwing them at me and I was dodging them. Then he picked up a large stone and, because he was so mad that he kept missing me, hauled it at me as hard as he could. I saw it coming and leaped out if it’s way…unfortunately, I didn’t realize that I had gotten to the edge of the roof! Before I knew what was happening, I felt the slamming of the driveway on my head!!! Our neighbor, who was incessantly drunk morning, noon, and night, saw me fall and stumbled over to help me. With slurred speech, he asked me if I was ok and tried, unsuccessfully, to help me up. But all I could think about was that my head was exploding in pain and that his breath was terrible, and I just wanted to get him away from me! My mom got home shortly afterwards and…yes, you guessed it; she applied the same band-aid treatment as hole #1 and hole #2!!! You could also see my skull on this one which was next to my left eye. My advice: never argue with someone when you are on a roof or anything high up!
Hole Four: My dad owned a red Ford truck that we all loved! Sadly, he had an accident and, as a result, the fender and had been bent outward. It was parked in our driveway until it could be repaired. This is an important detail that explains the upcoming head injury. Catching the school bus really shouldn’t have been so hard for us because there was only a single house between the bus stop and our house. We would take turns being the lookout and, when we saw the bus make its turn and coming down the hill, we would shout “BUS!!!!”; and all the kids would come out from wherever we were in full sprint to catch it. For this reason, and this reason alone, patent leather shoes should have been against the law. However, they weren’t, and I had to wear them like a proper young lady; of which I was not!
On this day, the call was made, and I was in a dumb yellow sundress and those ridiculous shoes. I sprinted out the front door and as soon as the sole of my shoe hit the pavement, I went down into a full slide…right into the bent fender, which sliced right through the top of my head! I ran inside and my mom rushed me to the bathroom to rinse it because, this time, the injury was on the top of my head, but under my hair. My dad was super angry and accused me of just trying to get out of school. Ok, really??? I knew exactly how to get out of school, and it did not include ripping a hole in my head to do so! How rash did he think I was??? Anyway, my mom didn’t have a choice this time and had to take me to the doctor. I got five stitches! The only cool thing that came out of this whole situation was that, when it was time for the stitches to come out, and my parents didn’t want to take me back to have it done…I got to pull them out myself!!!
Like I said: It is amazing that I made it to adulthood in one piece!
Until next time, protect your head and stay safe!!!