It was afternoon recess at St. Albert's School in Sudbury, and a softball game was underway. I can't remember whether Joey MacPherson was batting and Paul Uguccioni pitching or vice versa but I know I was catcher.
And the other detail that remains cemented in my mind as vividly as if it happened two minutes ago is the mind-splitting agony that quaked through my entire body when the batter swung with all his might and rather than connect with the thrown softball, he whacked my left elbow.
Had it not been attached to my arm, my elbow would have been knocked clean outta the schoolyard.
Safe to say that when I took the hit, I likely said a swear.
The play stopped.
I staggered over to the school's cement wall, leaned against it and must have been trying with every cell in my skinny little body to impress my classmates because when our principal, Sister Sylvia, showed up and asked what happened, I shrugged it off, with something like, "I'll be fine. Don't worry." As if.
The rest of the day went as planned.
|CHARLENE, R.N.: Presents as innocent|
This is interesting: The harder I think about the event, the more I remember. I'm pretty sure it was that same evening that Joe, Paul--all the grade eights--went through a Catholic religious sacrament called Confirmation. It's when young Catholic boys and girls are recognized as adults in the church. We also get to choose another name. My Confirmation name is Alexander, in honour of my mother's late brother Alex MacIsaac because I thought he was such a funny guy though now I'm wondering if my brother Alex has believed all these years it was because of him. He's wrong. And I digress.
Morning after the ball game, I remember my parents had to leave town for the day and although my arm was still sore, it didn't prevent me from going for a walk with one of my sisters, who was, at the time, a nursing student.
Actually, three of my sisters became registered nurses. And my mom was one, as well. How unlikely is that?
Imagine how proud my mother, Huena, must have been when the girls all graduated and our local paper The Sudbury Star reported that her daughters Mary, Norma, and Charlene followed in her white-shod footsteps.
|MARY HOLDING MY SON Michel. The statue is another Mary holding her son.|
In fact when I found out two hours ago that May 6 to 13 is National Nursing Week, I decided it's high time I shouted lovingly to the world about the four wonderful nurses I shared a home with. Four.
No wonder I had such a charmed injury-free childhood. Has any young boy in history ever been showered with as much TLC as was little Peter Frances Alexander Carter? No.
Unless of course you're referring to "The Elbow Incident."
I once again whisk you back to the Saturday after I got batted.
Nursing-student-sister number-one and I returned home from our walk and I noticed my elbow had started swelling up.
Another nursing-student sister assessed the damage and a majority of my them determined that a trip to the General Hospital emerg was in order.
One of them drove me to the General and accompanied me through triage and then for treatment. She had actually worked at this hospital and knew her way around. Also because she's my big sister I believe everything she says. Which--when we were told who the doctor on call that day was--was this: "Oh no! He's got a terrible drinking problem. I hope he doesn't screw this up too."
That is not what you would call a confidence-builder.
Drunk or not, the doctor determined that my elbow was indeed fractured and required what he called a half-cast; i.e., a plaster support that worked like a splint, so it didn't go all the way around my arm but was wrapped completely in bandages so I ended up with what looked like a cast that would keep my bones in position until they healed, so they should stay put for a few weeks.
A few weeks, that is, or--as determined by my sister nurses once I got back home--a few hours. Moments after I got into the house a coven (or murder, or group, whatever the collective for sisters is) of Carter sisters determined that what Peter's arm needed was a good washing.
They wiped my elbow and got the cast back on, all before mom got home.
Happy to report my arm healed okay. I'm pretty sure they didn't really know what they were doing but perhaps I've been wrong all these years. There is an outside chance they made the right call.
Maybe that's why they all turned out to be such great nurses; i.e., they had me to experiment on.
Two final thoughts: First, I can't believe how lucky I am to have such doting sisters, who remain just as sweet and caring to this very day; And finally, those same darlings encourage me to write. They should be careful what they pray for.