Hole in my Heel
The kids in my neighborhood used to call me Huckleberry after the famed Twain character. I never really belonged to any of the local urban cliques, especially before I reached high school. Instead of getting into scuffles or such, I was always off in the nearby woods chasing critters.
And I was always barefoot. That further reinforced my nickname.
At the age of eight or nine I came home not long before sundown (my family observed the Judeo-Christian Sabbath and always insisted I was in and clean before it began each Friday night). My chore that night was to take out the trash.
I picked up the large plastic trash bag and swung it over my shoulder. In an instant, an event happened that would have killed or maimed humans throughout history; the legendary Achilles (whom Brad Pitt played well in the recent blockbuster Troy) was killed by what happened to me.
I didn’t even feel it happen. All I felt was a sudden hot-cold flash through my body. When I stepped forward, my leg collapsed.
Gaining my balance, I didn’t understand what was wrong. But I began to quickly notice a frigid feeling inside my heel. I turned back and looked down, and to my horror there was a gaping bloody hole there.
Now I felt it!
I started screaming and jumping (on my good right foot). Mom and Dad converged. Immediately Mom gasped. Dad told me to settle down and inspected it.
Mom said, "You need to get him to the hospital.”
Dad, who grew up far away from hospitals in the remote ranches of western North Dakota, stubbornly said, "Ah… get a band aide.”
Mom’s eyes squinted seriously and her voice suddenly got low. "Don, you’re going to take him to the hospital.”
At first the wound did not bleed much… but when they wrapped a towel around my foot, it quickly saturated with crimson.
So Dad finally rushed me off to Doctors West Hospital.
There I was sat in a waiting room for a lot longer then seemed appropriate. At least I felt that the nurses and doctors were a lot calmer than seemed fitting for the occasion!
They put me on a bed finally and asked me to roll over onto my belly. Normally the task is so simple… and you wouldn’t think that a severed Achilles tendon would cause you to be unable to roll over; well… it did—every time I leaned my body my foot started to dangle. The sensation was very sickening, and it took me a couple minutes to get pushed over onto my belly.
They wrapped me up a little and put a temporary cast onto me (no doctors would be in to operate until Monday, it seemed). I had to trudge myself to the bathroom with the help of a couple nurses—which was practically as traumatizing as the major wound.
Now you are probably wondering how in the world I got that wound! I will tell you. Jelly. Yes, earlier that day my sister had dropped a glass jar of jelly onto the kitchen floor. We cleaned it up and threw it into the trash bag. And I think you can deduce the rest.
The glass punctured my heel and sliced my Achilles tendon in two. The top half whipped up into my leg like a rubber band. When the doctors operated on me, they had to cut up a couple inches so that they could reach the wayward tendon and pull it back down. They then sewed it back together… and I was soon one whole, happy little boy. Of course, I spent the next couple of months in a cast and crutches… but it ended well.
The scar is still there, but that’s really about all that’s left except the memories. I still can, however, feel a tinge of apprehension and uneasiness when I see an episode of violence (such as in Troy) when a heel is wounded.
I guess the moral is this—don’t throw glass into plastic trash bags! And also, it kind of makes me feel good that I survived a wound that even a legendary warrior failed to survive. Thanks doctors!