WAKING UP THE other morning with a sharp pain in my mid-section, I turned to Google for a diagnosis. Big mistake. That innocent search prompted me to check my life insurance, revise my bucket list, and check out those companies that can shoot your ashes into space.
Fortunately, Marcia brought me back to earth with a gentle question: Had I done anything recently that might have caused the problem?
Not that I could think of; we hadn’t been to the gym for a few days because of traveling, and sitting at a desk all day isn’t a high-risk working environment. And then I remembered.
Hula hoop. The previous day we’d taken one of our grandsons on a pirate ship adventure, during which I’d been press-ganged into a hula hoop contest with more limber parents and grandparents. Not only had my ego been bruised in the embarassingly failed effort, it appeared I had likely pulled something else in the process—adding injury to insult.
Uncomfortable as I was, I knew that there was no way I was ever going to make a doctor’s appointment to get checked out and have to admit what had happened. I would just have to suck it up and add it to my list of unfortunate injuries.
Not only am I among the likely few who have ever been injured in a hula hoop contest, I am also probably the only journalist ever to have been hurt while covering an ice hockey match.
It happened when I was a young reporter writing about the Altrincham Aces, back in the northwest corner of England. Ice hockey wasn’t a big sport there at that time; matches were played in whatever free ice time teams could beg, often really late at night.
Sma1l crowds meant limited budgets, which couldn’t stretch very far—literally. The safety netting went up only behind either goal, to protect the bar at one end and the windows at the other. Sitting behind the side barrier midway seemed safe enough—or so I thought.
Then came the slap that fired the puck up over the barrier, slamming into my left wrist. Fortunately, not my writing hand, so I was able to keep taking notes for the rest of the games. Still, my left forearm had to be strapped tight for a couple of weeks.
At least my mishap didn’t interfere with play. Tom, the photographer on the same newspaper, wasn’t so lucky one time when he shot a soccer match I was covering. There was a goalmouth melee from a corner. The whistle blew and the huddle of players parted to reveal Tom splayed out on the white line.
Someone had connected with the ball when it came over and booted it right into the camera Tom was holding up against his face, kneeling by the side of the goal—a somewhat more crunching version of this World Cup 2018 moment. It’s the only time I have ever seen a team doctor treat someone other than one of the players.
When people saw me with my bandage after my mishap, and asked what had happened, I’d just shrug as though it didn’t really mean much to me, and say, “Ice hockey.”
Which gives me an idea should I find myself needing to go to the doctor with my injured right side. If he asks how it happened, I’ll look quietly heroic and just say, “Hoops.”