Welcome to The Muggo. The following is an introduction to the purpose of this site, but instead of expressing the purpose in a succinct and concise manner, I wrote almost 2,200 words about it, using a personal story as an allegory for what I’m tryna do here. If long-winded and seemingly aimless writing is going to be a problem, The Muggo dot com might not be the right place for you. (Looking at you, Jimmy).
Totes kidding…Welcome. You’re going to love it.
“Hey, we’ll race you to the shipping barn!”
My cousin’s tires spit all kinds of dirt and rocks into my face, with my 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 back 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 then 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 other’s 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, we lived less than a mile from my cousins. My uncle owns and operates a family business, a wholesale greenhouse. Living out in the country like we did, we didn’t have “neighborhood kids” to hang out with, so we hung out with my cousins most of the time. And they had four-wheelers. So yeah, we had a lot of fun.
Nate and Joe were going around the back side of the house, which was located adjacent to the 20-acre greenhouse. 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 which had alfalfa, weeds, and tall grass growing in it. Coming up on my cousin’s yard, 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 ditch.
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 ditch. 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 had 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 oversized 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. You know what, don’t talk to me for a few days, cool? I really can’t handle this.)
(Update: I’m now sitting here, shirtless, finishing this story.)
Again, my brain took over my motor functioning and quickly cradled my crushed left arm with my right arm. I don’t think I ever looked back down at it after that moment. My body started trudging up a 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 of 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.
Coming up to the front of the house, I saw someone watering the plants. He evidently had seen me coming from a little ways away, but I have to think the fact that 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 that 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, I don’t think. 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 plants 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 had 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.
I’ll tell more of this story 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. Trying to make sure I seem buttoned up to the outside world. I don’t think I’m an anomaly, by the way. I think 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?
You’re smart enough to know where this is going. Part of the reason I wanted to start a blog in the first place was to somehow, some way help us learn from our past. In a place and time where it’s more important to be right than it is to be kind, I want to do my part to change our culture. I’m not classically trained in psychology or medicine, education or law. I barely eked out a degree from Purdue as a Communication major (shouts to my Comm homies out there). But, I have lived a few decades now. I’ve done plenty of stupid things that have made for great lesson-learning. And while there are certainly others more experienced than myself, I’m the one writing this piece. I’m the one who started The Muggo. So, deal with it.
If you are interested in helping in this manner, shoot me an email, and let’s talk about your experiences. We can talk about the lessons you have learned, and maybe they can help others in similar (but, of course, different) situations.
In the short term, I’ll be able to tell some stories about things I’ve learned. Some will be funny, some will be serious. My long term goal is this: I want to learn from others’ experiences. And not just my inner circle either, because (admittedly), my inner circle isn’t the least bit diverse, and that bothers me.
Shoot me an email at MuggoConnect@gmail.com if you have questions about what I’m trying to do here, or if you’re interested in helping. Sign up for the mailing list so I can hook you up with the latest posts right when they’re published. And, simply put, if you enjoy what you’re reading, share this with others. That’s sort of the point here.
I’ll dive into some personal things from time to time. I’ve not been shy about sharing my struggles, but I’ll respect the medium as well. I mean, this is the internet, after all. Anyway, thanks for reading.
Oh, yeah. I almost forgot about the title. So, remember when AOL Instant Messenger was the coolest? Yeah, me too. That was my very first screen name. Gotta have a sense of humor about this kind of thing. ♦