Have you ever broken a bone? If not, what's the worst injury you've sustained?
This is a great question for a former carnie who has never (knock on wood) broken a bone.
Once upon a time, I was performing an act called Spanish Web. Looks like me getting spun around just like you see me getting spun around below. My routine involved starting with my hand in that loop up there and getting spun, then transitioning to my foot in that loop and getting spun, going back to my hand for the "fast spin" as if the rest of the spinning wasn't fast enough, and then hitting the ground and trying not to puke.
Well, the guy who "set my web" (spins me) was pretty damn strong. Stronger than he realized. I was fine through the whole routine, even through the fast spin – it was just a bit faster than I was accustomed to. Hey, congrats to me, great routine. Fast forward to the next day when I woke up and had to go to work, as a bartender, and I looked a little something like this:
Well, you know, except my iris and skin are quite a bit more brown. Fortunately, this only caused pain to the people who had to look at me. It's a fairly common circus mishap.
Hey, since we're on the topic of cicus pain, here's another doozy. A lot of circus acts are trust-based, although some more than others. Because I was, in a previous life, a sheer lunatic, I would try just about anything on a circus apparatus. Yeah, yeah, get your mind out of the gutter. It's just not comfortable unless it's the trampoline and even that better be the right tramp bed, but I digress. On that there flying trapeze (please ignore my non-pointed toes), I just loved to try out new tricks.
Of course, upon trying new tricks, you are in the comfort and security of safety lines and a safety belt (not pictured above but can be purchased for the low, low price of $19.95. That's right, $19.95!). And in whom might I place all of my trust? Well, the chief of circus, who else?!?! He's been doing this for YEARS! He won't let me get hurt. You don't even need
foreskin foreshadowing to see where this is going.
New trick: One and a half. See that bar that I have apparently just left? Well in a one and a half, I hold on to it, and upon release, I do one full somersault and then one half somersault so that the dude with no shirt can catch me. By my legs. Slightly difficult but not as hard as many, many other things there are to do.
There I am, fearless maniac, ready to go. I get though the trick and prepare to hit the net. Here's the rub: the chief of circus didn't think I was going to get myself positioned to properly hit the net and not get hurt, so he gave me a tug on the safety lines. Basically, this causes a cease-fire in momentum and me dropping like a rock. Onto my head. This was the first (and hopefully last) time that I have ever gotten knocked around so hard that I literally saw stars. I may have momentarily blacked out.
Two things I remember:
- Hearing someone say "Sunshine, you're scaring the nurse" because I was laying in the net and not moving. Gee, sorry to scare the nurse but I'm not sure I still have all my pieces in the proper places.
- Not wanting to scare the nurse and dragging my sorry ass out of the net complete with a circus-style smile and wave.
No worse for wear on that one but damn if it doesn't remind me of another Spanish Web injury.
Spin, spin, spin, spin.
Wake up the next day with a cramp in the ole neck. Think some aspirin will kill it but be horribly wrong. Go to the mall with at-the-time boyfriend. Feel pain but ignore it like carnies do. Until, that is, a muscle spasm PUTS ME ON MY KNEES in 5-7-9. Seriously. Ouch. He had to pick me up off the floor at which point he was rather insistent upon my going to the doctor.
In the doctor's office I sit, trying my best not to move, not to blink, not to breathe, for fear of another spasm. Have you ever smashed your finger with a hammer? Jammed a knife into your side? Put your hand on a red-hot burner? Me either, but I'm guessing those pains may have been nothing compared to what was going on in my neck. Upon finally seeing the doctor, he tried to examine me. I say tried because, he basically had the bedside manor of a dirty diaper. Please, jam your fingers right into the muscle in my neck that I have injured so that it will spasm again and I can twitch off of your examining table into a puddle of crying mess.
Doctor – not happy. Me – even less so. Doctor's answer was to put me in a cervical collar. Um, how about no? The millisecond that he put the velcro together I believe the phrase is that I "screamed like a Banshee". Yeah, more pain. At this point, I am certain that I have laced my conversation with F-bombs and questioned the doctor's ability to practice medicine so he was quite tired of me. He wrote me a script for muscle relaxers and some codeine and we became friends.
As a side note, I was supposed to work that night. I tried to explain to my boss, who was annoyed that I was participating in circus activities because my job was BARTENDING, DAMMIT, that I could not come to work because I had been to the doctor and I was in serious pain. There was no room for belief of my claim in sight and I had already taken the muscle relaxer. Fortunately, my roomie was super sweet and pretty much dressed me and helped me walk over to work. It's quite possible that I was slobbering on myself when I entered the bar. Boss took one look at me, shook his head and sent me home. Happy ending. Not that kind.
Doesn't that make you want to run out and join the circus?