That one time I got into the squash championships, almost lost an eye and threatened my doctor.
Not only was I a big old nerd when I was in high school, but I was also a bit of a tomboy. And growing up in the ‘80’s, living in a small dustbowl of a town in the middle of the Australian desert, you need to make your own fun lest you go insane, turn to drink, or think it’s a great idea to build a house out of recycled tin cans. That, and my hyperactive constitution, my parents forced me into as many activities as they could because I’d probably burn down the house experimenting with my Chemistry Set. (Though I did burn down the neighbour’s car once – but that’s another story.)
So I was signed up for T-ball and swimming as a kid, but then graduated to horse riding and squash. The latter I got pretty good at, and while vying for the Town’s Junior Squash Championship, at a tied match point… I know this is the tense stuff of cinematic legend, and I am not embellishing… my partner was about to miss the ball and I’d become the victor! But as luck would have it, he decided to run backwards and leap into the air to spike the little black ball. However, in his back swing he managed to collect my eye.
My eye! Argh, I was scarred for life and probably blind. That effer! I’m meant to win this game. And you’re not meant to hit girls! Squash is a non-contact sport!
That’s exactly what ran through my head the seconds before the world went black and white noise filled my ears.
When the world came rushing back, my eyes wouldn’t open, but I could feel lots of warm stickiness running through my fingers. It’s still a bit fuzzy, even to this day about what happened. A lot of people were talking at me. Guiding me. A cold wet cloth pushed to my face. I was in the car one moment. And the next at the doctor’s surgery. Sometime in the car my face muscles had unclenched and I was able to open the unaffected eye.
There was a lot of blood. A hell of a lot of blood. I panicked, thinking I must be holding my eyeball in my skull. My skin must have been half ripped from my face. This is not a good place to be. I guess it looked bad enough to get to see a doctor immediately, which turned out to be a tiny, soft spoken Asian man. I’m no wilting flower, tall, fit, and vocal. This medical professional only came up to my armpit, but Mum assured me he was the best doctor to help. I was terrified. I mean, my eye!
The worst part was the Doctor told I’d need stitches. And I am more needle-phobic than the regular person. But practically crushing Mum’s fingers in a death grip, I had to suck it up and suffer through the procedure. Only, at the worst possible moment I opened my eye to see a giant needle coming straight toward my eye. Having it so close, it looked like a nuclear missile with a metal pike about to slam into my head. And I don’t care how okay you are with needles, wave something in front of your vision, and anyone would flinch. My reaction was to push the doctor across the room screaming “Touch me with that thing and I’ll deck you.” I was such the well-bred young lady.
I don’t know how she did it – maybe some Mamma Bear determination – but Mum calmed and encouraged the skittish doctor, and despite being half my size, splayed her body over me and pinned me to the operating chair, directing the doctor to “Just do it.” A completely different take on the Nike catch phrase.
I survived. My eye hadn’t fallen out. But I did lose the squash game. Junior Champ Runner-up. And a lovely scar that took seven stitches to mend. Nearly invisible in the crease of my eye. A gnarly black eye, that when I returned to school caused my partner to get harassed no end. *grins evilly*
When the eye completely healed I’m not sure if I was relieved at how invisible the scar was, or disappointed that physical proof of my ordeal was so miniscule. The guy who won the Junior Championship never spoke to me again. In fact, he avoided me like the plague. And after that my parents stopped trying to force me into activities. I returned to my nerdy ways and avoided needles with even more vehemence.
I don’t know what happened to the kind Asian Doctor, maybe I rattled him so much he quit the Practice and moved to a place where young girls didn’t threaten to bash him into a bloody pulp. Or my photo is on the wall behind the receptionist’s desk with the words ‘Banned For Life’ in big red letters. I never got to thank him. I waited a week longer than necessary to get the stitches removed – because you know – terrified. But in the end a portly nurse in a pale blue uniform removed them by distracting me in conversation, saying she was just cleaning the area before starting… and the next moment – all done.
And that’s the story of how this geek-jock lost the Alice Springs Junior Squash Championships sometime in the ‘80’s and managed to get a doctor cowering in a corner.
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