The Collar Bone Bump

“Two weeks later the hospital was condemned and closed.” said my friend Jim.  It was 1973.

It was a warm summer night and I had just finish working with the teenage boys at the group home on the edge of the Bronx.  I was hungry and excited to get home to that can of Campbell’s mushroom soup as well as the tall young man who was to accompany me.  At 11pm, my tall friend Jim arrived with his bike ready to escort me home to 181st and Creston just off the Grand Concourse.  The ride commenced with my new Yellow Schwinn Varsity Sport 10 speed.  

My friend looked back just after the underpass and I was not there.

The downward slope of the underpass on Fordham Road is where I pedal fast to build up speed for the following incline out of the underpass.

Jim found me slumped next to the wall with my left arm about six inches below my shoulder socket. “I am going to get an ambulance” he said. To which I shouted a vehement, “NO! Just give me a minute. I will be fine.”

There was glass on the road.  Both tires blew out and over the handle bars I went at my top speed.  I dragged my bike to the edge of road and slid down the stone wall to recover

unaware of what I had done or what I looked like.  

Jim said, “I am going to get a police car because you cannot ride your bike you have two flats.”  “Okay,” I replied reluctantly.  

Up pulls this milk truck of an ambulance.  Yes not one of those sleek outfitted and well painted vehicles of every community today.  The attendant escorted me into the ambulance and I sat on the bench while my bike was loaded.  The hospital was next to the underpass where my trip had ceased.  

As I was wheel chaired into the ER, I saw dried blood on the hospital floor. This was the first time and only time I have seen blood on an ER floor.  I was moved to a table in a room with an X-ray technician booth.

The doctor in street clothes and a cigarette spoke no english.  Yes I said a lit burning cigarette in the hospital.  

Jim asked for a doctor who spoke english.

The smoking doctor starts to wave his smoking hand around my left shoulder and arm as to diagram the details to the english speaking doctor on how to perform a reduction.  A reduction is the insertion of the arm bone back into the shoulder socket.  

Jim asks the doctor for his cigarette for he was worried I would get burned.

Shock creates an alternate reality.  I thought Jim just wanted a smoke as much as I wanted that can of mushroom soup.  On the window sill of the X-ray technician were two cans of soda and a rolled up open bag of wise potato chips.  It looked like a bodega rather than a hospital.  I was so hungry that I wanted some.  

My friend says he will never will forget the scream I emitted when the arm was reset.

No recollection of the scream.  Just the massive amount of gauze they wrapped me in.  I had dislocated my left shoulder and broken my left clavicle.  I looked like a mummy.  You know when you take a roll of toilet paper at a birthday party and wrap up your partner in toilet paper -- mummy.  I was just a top half mummy.  

They rolled me up to a high ceiling ward, a large room with many sleeping bodies.

Jim takes all of my personal belongings and leaves me a dime, to call mom and dad.

At 4am, I am counting the hours til breakfast because I am still so hungry.  

Later Jim says “your parents were so mad. Why didn’t you call when it happaned” It was 6AM.

No good deed goes unpunished and the innocence of youthful thinking.  My friend  thought to wait til 6AM as to not wake them up not having been a parent yet with parental thinking.  He tells them to get me out of that hospital as soon as possible.  

After not ingesting the porridge that was delivered at 7am, I walked slowly to the pay phone at the end of ward and called my parents asking for a meal.  

By 10am, Dad arrived and gathered his mummy wrapped daughter for the bumpiest ride down the major deegan to new jersey in his little blue vw beetle.  

The suburban doctor unwrapped me, gave me a sling for my arm and a figure eight collarbone holder and sent me home with something for pain.  All I have now is a bump in my collarbone where it knitted back together.

Jim said they condemned the hospital two weeks later.     314-474-7673      © christa hughes 2019