About a year ago, a friend of mine asked why I wanted to start TheMuggo.com. I appreciated the question because it gave credence to the idea that this is more than just a personal blog where I air out all my feelings and opinions. I gave a quick response in the moment, but I felt that it deserved a deeper level of thought. So, I wrote over 2,000 words in story form to help illustrate the purpose of this site. Thanks for reading and for being a part of what I’m trying to do here.
“We’ll race you to the shipping barn!”
Before I could respond, my cousin’s tires spit all kinds of dirt and rocks into my face. My was brother sitting on the back of the four-wheeler, laughing. I didn’t have goggles on, and I was on the slower of the two four-wheelers, but mine was carrying less weight, so maybe I’d be able to beat them.
I tore off after them and quickly realized I wasn’t going to be able to see a thing. They were kicking up too much dust. Screw it, I thought. I’ll go the other way.
The fact that I was riding solo was a rarity. Joe, my brother, and Nate, the cousin, we’re usually the ones driving. Them being two-and-a-half years older than me, it made sense that’d I’d get the short end of the stick. With any activity we did, really. But today, for whatever reason, I got to be the one riding alone while the others teamed up.
Seeing that they were pulling away from me, I made a quick decision on a different route. We were racing to a point maybe a half mile away, the shipping barn. A little context: where I grew up, my uncle owns and operates a large wholesale greenhouse. His house is tucked behind the 20-something acre greenhouse on a beautiful plot of land. We lived just down the street from them, which in country terms means about three-quarters of a mile.
Nate and Joe were going around the back side of the house. I decided the only way I’d be able to beat them would be to take a short cut along the other end of the property. It might help me shave off a few seconds, just enough time to pull ahead of those two meatballs. I yanked the handlebars and sped off.
Let me just throw this out there. When you’re riding some sort of motorsport vehicle (like a four-wheeler, or dirt bike, etc.), it’s really important that you know the terrain. I was speeding through a field full of alfalfa and tall weeds. Upon nearing my cousin’s yard, I could see that the terrain changed from tall, weedy grass, to short, freshly mowed grass. From 50 feet away, everything looked gravy. But 10 feet from the transition from field to yard, I realized…there was a 10-ft wide creek.
I don’t know how fast I was going, but I can tell you that I was in fifth gear and had the thumb throttle maxed out. That machine was screaming. So when I stomped on the foot brake five feet before crashing into the ditch, not a whole lot of deceleration happened. However, I can tell you how fast I was going after slamming headlong into the other side of the dried out creek. Zero MPH.
So, here’s the thing. I don’t know if I lost consciousness. I was (thankfully) wearing a helmet that particular day (which wasn’t always a sure thing for any of us), and I’m sure I hit my head because my vision was blurred for the first few seconds after I opened my eyes. But it was the weirdest thing. I didn’t feel any pain.
I mean, I knew what had just happened. I slammed into a dirt wall going ~40 miles per hour with only my arms cushioning the blow. Philosophically, I knew that should have hurt like hell. But in reality…well, in my reality, it didn’t. I felt nothing. The only thing I noticed was the nausea. And hooboy, it was strong.
At this point, my brain went into survival mode, trying to assess my various body systems. My eyes were starting to see more clearly. I was able to move my feet. My head was still spinning, but it was attached to my neck, so that was clearly a win for me. I was laying in the bottom of this ditch on my left side, and I suddenly felt this incredible urge to stand up and start walking. Which my body started doing, seemingly without my cognitive consent.
I had somehow pulled myself out of the ditch when I noticed something strange. I tried to lift my hands to take off my helmet, but only the right hand responded. The left hand was touching my stomach. I looked down and saw why that was happening. I don’t mean to be graphic, but this is just how it went…from my elbow to my fingertips, my left arm looked like an over-sized piece of cooked spaghetti shaped like an “S”. I tried lifting it again, and what I saw my brain couldn’t understand. My upper arm responded, but my forearm bent the wrong way and hung limply against my body.
(Quick note: As I’m writing this, I just stood up and went for a walk because it is just way too sickening to remember this particular moment. Like, I sort of want to vomit, but then again I don’t, because I’m not all about the taste of stomach acid, but at the same time I don’t want anything in or near my body. In fact, I’m struggling to come to terms with the way my shirt is touching my left elbow. I really can’t handle this.)
(Update: I’m now sitting here, shirtless, finishing this story.)
Again, my brain took over all motor functioning and quickly commanded my unbroken right arm to cradle my crushed left arm. My body started trudging up the long hill toward my cousin’s house. I needed help.
I still don’t know that I’m properly portraying how strange it was to see my arm acting like one of those crazy wind sock-looking things you see outside used car lots, but not feeling any sort of pain. It was just…bananas.
You’ve seen people use #mindblown or the emojis of an exploding head on social media. That was me in reality as I walked up to the house. I wouldn’t say it was an out of body experience, but my mind and my body certainly weren’t operating on the same plane. My body was in complete shock, shutting down unnecessary systems and putting extra juice into the ones that mattered, while my mind trivially wondered why my arm didn’t hurt and how I would manage to get my helmet off with one hand.
When I got to the front of the house, I saw someone watering the flowerbeds. He noticed me walking toward him from a little ways away, but I think the fact I was overly calm sort of threw him off. He asked if I was okay, and I told him I thought I’d broken my arm. But I wasn’t hysterical about it. I can’t say what was going through this guy’s mind, but I would guess that if someone walked up to me and said they thought their arm was broken, but they were acting totally normal, I might (might) react the same way he did.
I’m being very generous.
So I tell the guy I’d broken my arm, and his response? “Where do you live?” I told him my house was probably about a mile away, so he told me I should probably go home.
Incredible. Life-changing advice right there, bro. My arm looked like a split baseball bat, and he’s telling me to walk it off. No ‘hey, let’s call your folks’ or ‘maybe we should get you inside’. Hell, the least he could do was offer an ice pack.
Realizing that this dude was completely useless in that moment, I walked around the side of the house to the garage, knowing that that would be the most likely place to find somebody who might actually help me. As luck would have it, my cousin Angela was just getting dropped off by a friend.
“Hey, Sammy! What’s up?”
“I think I broke my arm. Can you call my mom?”
She didn’t even see my arm. Instead, she saw my right leg. Up to this point, I hadn’t noticed that my right leg had been sliced wide open during the crash. Her face went white and she quickly rushed me inside. Some of my other cousins were inside, too, and after taking one more look at me, she started barking out orders. “Kim, call Aunt Julie. Kendra, get me some ice, now! Natalie, go get the Ace bandages!” I was 12 at the time, which means Angela was 13 or so. That’s amazing to me, still to this day. She was perfectly in control of the situation. Makes me wonder even more about the 19 year-old (still) watering the flowers in the front yard. Sheesh.
Once seated, I asked them to take my helmet off, but they didn’t want to do that. I didn’t understand why, so I insisted they take it off (I’m pretty sure I told them I was going to throw up just so they’d take it off), but once they did, I saw why they initially resisted.
With the helmet on, I couldn’t see the side of my leg. Once it was off, I glanced down at my arm – which I still couldn’t feel, by the way – but my eyes caught something bright red and white on my leg. That’s when I saw the eight inch gash, the skin was pulled open about an inch. It wasn’t real deep – picture slicing the skin of an uncooked brat or a sausage, that’s what it looked like. As grotesque as it was, my mind still couldn’t understand why my leg was getting so much more attention than my arm.
Maybe they couldn’t see my arm because I was still cradling it. I could feel that it was broken, but maybe it wasn’t obvious to anyone else. All I remember thinking, and saying, was that my arm was broken. But no one seemed to care about that. They only cared about the injury they could see.
There’s plenty more to this story, and I may tell the rest of it later. But what I just wrote is sort of an underlying theme for me, and it’s the reason I’m writing this story in the first place. On a personal level, I’ve long worked on the “injuries” people could see. I’m talking about my obvious shortcomings. Trying to make sure I seem buttoned up to the outside world. I’m not an anomaly, by the way. Most people do this.
But what happens when we have “injuries” that people can’t see? Or maybe choose not to see? What about the “injuries” we don’t see even in ourselves? Or refuse to acknowledge? What happens when those internal “injuries” aren’t addressed? I think you understand what I’m talking about here. Maybe it’s anxiety or depression. Maybe it’s greed or lust or anger. Perhaps self-hatred or pride or envy. What happens when we ignore those things?
Which brings me to the point of telling this story. This is why I started TheMuggo. With all the arguing and vitriol and disrespect we see day in and day out on the internet, I wanted to do my part to change our culture, even if just a little. In a place and time where it’s more important to be right than it is to be kind, this site aims to offer a medicine our culture badly needs right now. I’m not interested in taking emotional stands and driving wedges between people. I want to bring people together through storytelling.
I’m not classically trained in psychology or medicine, education or law. I barely eked out a degree from Purdue University as a Communication major. But, I’ve lived a few decades now, just enough to know that there’s a lot I don’t know. I’ve done plenty of stupid things that have made for great lesson-learning. And there have been successes too that I know others can benefit from. I believe everyone has a story that could have incredible impact on others, if only they’d be willing to share it.
If you’re even remotely familiar with theMuggo.com, you’ll see it’s not so serious all the time. Some posts have been silly, because laughter and levity are necessary. Frankly, some of the most impactful lessons I’ve learned have come from silly situations. Other posts have been incredibly serious, because getting serious about the real things in life is necessary, too. Every story has a place here.
If you have a story you think others could benefit from hearing, shoot me an email at MuggoConnect@gmail.com, and let’s talk about your experiences. Sign up for the mailing list so I can hook you up with the latest posts as soon as they’re published. And, simply put, if you enjoy what you’re reading, share this with others on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. If you don’t enjoy what you’re reading…still share it. It may affect someone else differently. I truly believe the world needs more of this.
Oh, yeah. I almost forgot about the title of this post. So, remember when AOL Instant Messenger was the coolest? Yeah, me too. “creekjumper07” was my very first screen name. Gotta have a sense of humor about this kind of thing. ♦
Next Q… it’s scar time!
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Dr. Z, checking in from Spain!!!