The four scars in this story are the ones that resulted from having stitches, but they’re not the only scars I have.
The one I least remember was the first, naturally. It happened in the bath when I was I guess four or five. My sister and I were still having baths together at that stage, and we were getting up to high jinx. It may even have been as serious as shenanigans. I was standing up and slipped and smashed my chin on the edge of the bath. Crying ensued, towels were applied, and a dash to the doctor resulted in five stitches. The scar is ordinarily covered with beard these days (although I shave up to the scar, the hair hangs over the top), but I am clean shaven from time to time and it shows up more then.
I had a pretty good run for a while. We moved house a couple of times and a few years passed. I think I was in year four or five when the second of the four scars was incurred.
It was lunch time and spring and young boys’ and girls’ minds turned to chasey. On this particular lunch time we played ‘build-up chasey’. In this particular variation, rather than the person being ‘it’ being transferred by being touched, every person who was touched became ‘it’ and responsible for helping to catch the remaining players. Our school was in the hills and a bit bushy, so there were plenty of bushes and trees to hide around and so on. I was making a dash for it and felt pretty good about it. I was leaping from rock to rock. I was like a mountain goat. I was like a gazelle. I made a sharp right and smacked straight into an overhanging branch. I fell back on my arse. I needed five stitches in my forehead. The branch was sawn off.
Now I was able to avoid injury after that for some time, but not all time.
I love dessert. When I was a kid, we were pretty lucky to get ice magic chocolate topping. This would happen maybe once or twice a year.
This particular incident occurred in year 8. I was doing my homework upstairs at my desk in my bedroom. This particular desk had been made for me on the instruction of my mother. It was made to fit in the corner of the room, with a set of drawers to one side which had been retrieved from our old kitchen. It was too tall for me, but then, I was still very small. I was the second smallest boy in year 8 at my school, which at that time was Christ Church Grammar School. Well that’s a story for another day too. Anyway, I’d sit at my desk doing my homework having trouble looking over the top of it to read.
I realised, on this particular occasion, that some chocolate would be quite beneficial to my studies. I sneaked downstairs and got the bottle of ice magic out of the fridge. I sneaked back upstairs. This was forbidden chocolate.
I held the bottle upside down and squeezed. A very little came out. I ate it. I squeezed again. A little more came out. I ate it.
I took the top off the bottle and stuck my finger in. I ran it around the inside of the bottle and pulled it out. There was a little chocolate. I ate it. I stuck my finger in a few more times and ate the sweet, sweet chocolate that came out. After a short time, though, this method also ceased to yield sweetness.
I shook the bottle. It was very clear that there was a certain weight at the bottom of the bottle. This suggested that there was more chocolate left that I couldn’t access. I needed to get into the bottle.
I opened the top drawer of my desk and extracted my pocket knife. It was rusty. And blunt. I put the bottle on the desk top and tried to pierce the bottle in a couple of different ways. But I couldn’t get the right kind of leverage. I was too small and the desk was too high. I needed another method.
I needed to put the bottle on my leg, so that I could really put downward pressure on the knife.
It turns out that this was a mistake. The knife went into my thigh quite a way. But I think the doctor underestimated how many stitches were required. He only put three in, and the scar is now quite wide.
I was pretty lucky for a while. I think it was about ten years.
I used to be an announcer on RTRFM, the community radio station in Perth. My friends and I did an overnight show from 1am to 5am once a week. There were three of us, and this meant that from time to time we could each opt out of doing either part of or the whole of the show. On this occasion I left after the first couple of hours. In those days I used to go everywhere bare foot. In fact I still walk around bare foot a fair proportion of the time. I guess I have been warned about this once or twice.
I was leaving the station and thought I’d pass on some witty thought to my friend through the intercom. I didn’t notice the upturned broken glass until it was inside my foot.
It felt kind of serious, so I went back upstairs and asked my friend to have a look and tell me what was the verdict. In those days RTRFM was still at UWA, so Sir Charles Gardiner hospital was pretty close. My friend had studied first aid a bit. He said it didn’t look that bad. So I wrapped it up in toilet paper and drove home.
The cut was in my right foot, and I was driving a manual car. It was my mum’s car. I was staying at my mum’s house during the summer because I’d teach swimming out in the hills in the summers. It was about a 40 minute drive.
I limped in, and my mum must have immediately known something was wrong. She woke up and came out. She took a look at my foot through her bleary half awake eyes and gagged a little. She drove me to Swan Districts hospital.
After a little while I got through Emergency to a bed and a doctor came out to see me. They did an x-ray. It turned out that there was a sliver of glass stuck between a couple of bones in my foot. The doctor decided that it could be pulled out. They administered a local anaesthetic. They gave me something to bite down on. A couple of nurses came and held me down. Male nurses. The doctor had a pretty decent effort at pulling out the glass. It wasn’t coming out. She gave it another go. It still didn’t come out. The nurses kept holding me down. I was struggling. A lot.
They decided that a general anaesthetic was required. I agreed.
I woke up the next morning because an alarm was going off. It was my heart rate dropping too low. The nurse came over and turned the machine off. I later found out that in order to get in to the glass, the doctor had had to make another incision to open up my foot. So that scar is kind of a T-junction.
And that’s the story of the four scars. Bit of a lame ending, but, well, I’m a bit tired.