Chapter Four – Does Anyone Have Quaaludes?
I would later see a video of this whole macabre scene. The video was filmed by Cathy Seltzer’s dad who volunteered to film each of our games using an 8mm Cannon Video Camera. In 1972, that type of camera was incredibly expensive. But the dad apparently used the camera in his work.
When I saw the video, I was struck most by the calm and collected manner Mary brought to the scene. At the ripe old age of 17, she had the presence and manner of a seasoned orthopedic surgeon.
I was also struck by the skill Mary demonstrated in freeing my foot from the wet turf and, simultaneously, turning my foot into a position that resembled normalcy.
That was the moment that my universe changed.
Words do not exist in the human language to describe the intensity of the pain when it finally hit. To say that someone had stuck a knife into my shin would not give the sensation justice. The pain was uncontrollable and unrelenting. Waves of pain starting in my leg and moving up my body. I moved uncontrollably on the ground. I was screaming incoherently. I tried to sit up but Agnes pushed me down. I tried to grab my leg but it was out of reach. Oh god how the pain intensified as the seconds passed after Mary straightened my leg. My finger nails, dug inches into the soft ground, were dirty for weeks after the injury.
“You need to stop moving. You’re making things worse.” Mary said.
The late afternoon Carolina blue sky was tinted yellow and red through my manic eyes.
The Coleman girls continued to hold me. Agnes, my head still resting in her lap, began to sing in my ear. It was a soft and lilting Scottish lullaby. I closed my eyes and tried to calm down. It was at this point that my endomorphs kicked in. My screams turned to moans thanks to Agnes, the Coleman’s and Mary. The pain, while still unbearable, lessened slightly.
“How bad is it?” I asked.
Mary looked at my leg and then back at me. Somehow she managed to smile reassuringly. “It looks like your tibia is broken at mid shaft. The bone is pressing against the skin but I don’t think the skin is broken. And your ankle is probably dislocated. I need to get your shoe and sock off to make sure your circulation is ok.”
I nodded. “I think I blew out my knee also. It hurts as much as my leg.”
Mary smiled at me again and patted my thigh. I looked around. The stands were deathly quiet. I saw coach Mars talking on a walkie talkie. Coach Mars had a concerned look on her mannish face. She was a lesbian before being a lesbian was popular. I hoped like hell she was getting help. In hind sight, I wondered how there could be no doctor in a crowd of 1,500 people.
20 feet away, I saw Hannah Scott. She was on a knee with a horrified look on her face. She was crying, being comforted by her teammates, and mouthing to me ‘I’m Sorry’.
Mary began to cut the laces from my shoe. She worked slowly and carefully. I made the mistake of moving my leg slightly in an attempt to find a more comfortable position. A knifelike pain shot through my body. I screamed.
I saw Mary and Agnes look at each other. “I have Quaaludes in my gym bag.” Agnes said. “It would help with the pain.”
I watched Mary ruminate on Agnes’s offer. I am sure she wasn’t surprised that Agnes was in possession of a Schedule 4 narcotic. Quaalude use was common among high school and college athletes in the early 70’s.
“No.” Mary said shaking her head. “The medics will be here soon. They should have morphine.”
“Lynne. I’m going to slip your shoe off. I’ll be as gentle as I can.” Mary again had a sad look on her face. Like she was about to do something distasteful. I knew it was necessary. I nodded my approval. Agnes tightened her grip on my hands. The Coleman sisters pressed harder on my hips and shoulders.
I’m sure my screams could be heard 5 miles away when Mary slipped the shoe from my foot. I tried to sit up but the Coleman’s held me down. The pain lessened once the slight movement of my leg ended.
“Sorry, Lynne.” Mary said beginning to cut off my knee sock. “This part shouldn’t hurt.” I was now sweating profusely. Agnes used a towel to dab sweat from my forehead. In spite of the heat, my foot felt cold as the fileted knee sock fell in pieces to the field.
Mary had an intent look on her face. I felt her fingers press against the top of my foot. “Your pulse is good Lynne. I was worried you might have some blood flow issues. But your fine.”
Mary assessed my leg visually. “Your tibia’s broken. But it’s not out of the skin. That’s good news. No risk of infection.”
I didn’t think anything at the moment was ‘good news.’ My leg was broken. My ankle was dislocated. And my knee was destroyed. The day started out with Chippy and I making love in his parent’s oversized king bed. It would probably end with me in surgery for a potentially life altering injury.
In the distance, I heard the sound of a siren.