Friday, September 2, 2011


This was my latest homework assignment (I love school): Write about something painful.

                There are not many opportunities to go sledding when you grow up in Beaverton, so I made the most of one fine snowy day during Christmas break when I was eight. My parents were enjoying the sun on a trip in California, and my sister and I were staying at my friend Rebekah's house. Rebekah's driveway wasn't ideal for sledding, but it was the best we had. The conditions were slippery as the previous day's snow had melted and refrozen into ice under this day's thin layer of snow. All the kids in the neighborhood had been playing for hours, shuffling and skating through the street, climbing to the top of Rebekah's modestly sloped driveway and systematically slipping down to stop somewhere in the middle of the street.
                I watched my sister slide down, and as she moved out of the way the next two man sled was put in place. With the first passenger settled in I moved to get on the back. I placed my hands on the sled to steady myself as I carefully prepared to sit on the back before we set off. When I shifted my weight lower to the ground, the sled took this as a cue to begin its casual descent. I was unable to protest, however, because the icy driveway forced my chin unnaturally upward. My upper teeth were over my lower lip. My lower lip was in my mouth. It hurt. It had a hole in it from my upper teeth.
                Naturally panic ensued amongst the gathering of grade schoolers. I was more stunned than anything. I wasn't sure what to do with my jaw; there had to be a lot of blood. There was more chaos when we made it into the house, but I felt like everyone was moving around me as I stood in the kitchen holding a towel to my face to keep all the blood. Rebekah's parent's couldn't get a hold of mine, and they weren't sure what to do. Eventually Rebekah's dad braved the icy roads to take me to the emergency room. The initial shock wore off as we drove away from the madness of Rebekah's mom trying to figure out what to do, Rebekah crying over bumping her knee on the dishwasher, and my sister crying over the hole in my lip. Now it was just me and Rebekah's dad in the waiting room.
                I spoke to my mom on the phone while we waited in the emergency room. She asked me if I was okay getting stitches without her there (she wasn't particularly keen on the idea), and I remember thinking of course I was okay getting them without her because she wouldn't be home for another five days and there was a hole in my lip. It felt like we waited forever; my lip still hurt. Wasn't a hole in your lip an emergency? Emergency waiting rooms don't have a lot to distract young children from any acute pain they may be experiencing. I was distinctly aware of the unnatural ability I now had to stick my tongue through my lip. It didn't feel right. I was horribly maimed, and completely helpless to fix myself. After what I remember to be ages, we finally saw a doctor who gave me stitches. The throbbing in my lip was dulled as the doctor sewed up my chin. I found myself no longer punctured, but still unable to speak properly. The mass of tiny stitches limited the flexibility of my lower lip.
                When my mom made it home she told me how brave she thought I was for getting stitches without her; I'm still convinced it would have been braver to keep a hole in my mouth for five extra days. When we resumed school I was still talking funny. The boys all thought it was cool when I turned out my lower lip to show them the ends of the stitches sticking out at weird angles looking something like an overturned beetle inside my mouth. The girls thought it was revolting; Rebekah regaled them with stories of the little bruise she received from the dishwasher amongst the chaos on the day I bit through my lip.