8 years ago today, Eric and I went on our first date. The date is easy enough to remember - today is also Eric's sister's birthday. Happy birthday, Lindsey!
Eric and I were in a Master's cohort together and also teaching in neighboring classrooms at a tiny private elementary school on the south side of Chicago. We were probably spending 95% of our awake time together (or at least in the same place in the case of teaching at school). Though we had an instant "connection" and became close friends quickly, we did not go on our first date until about 10 months after we first met.
There were a few akward hiccups on the road to that date but we were having a nice time as we headed up towards where I grew up to go ice skating and spend the day around my hometown. As I recall, we had a pretty good time ice skating. Neither of us were very good, but there was plenty of skating going on. At least we weren't skating holding on to the half-wall or anything.
As the skating session was coming to an end, we were getting ready to finish up and I decided we should take one more trip around the ice. There it was - the crucial decision made. About 3/4 of the way through that last loop, I hit a chunk in the ice and fell forward. My left skate caught on the right pant leg of my jeans. I fell with my legs in a "4" shape, straight on my left knee.
My immediate reaction was actually, "Could anyone be more embarassing than me?", as the skating rink guy came skating over to see if I was ok. The next thought... pain.
Eric and Skating Rink Guy helped me skate over to the side on one foot. My knee hurt, but weirder was that the skate on my left foot suddenly seemed to weigh about 500lbs. It was so heavy I couldn't lift it and it felt like it was weighing down my entire leg.
I was given an ice pack and a brief evaluation by Skating Rink Guy, who announced that it was a bad bruise and went on his way. I couldn't put on my shoe without crying out in pain. Attempting to walk was ridiculous. Eric went to get his car.
Then the party really got started --- while we were inside skating it had begun to snow... hard. A thick, blizzardy, "sane people aren't going out on the roads" snow.
When I could barely bend my knee to get into Eric's little Toyota, we decided that I needed to see a doctor. Off to the emergency room we went. I wasn't in tears but was in the most pain I had ever felt at that point. Initially, it seemed the doctors agreed with Skating Rink Guy's conclusion -- bad bruise. But they decided to send me to get x-rays just to confirm. They asked me to rate my pain on a 1-10 scale. I think I said "6 or maybe 7", which apparently is the border between a high dose of Ibuprofen and "the good stuff". Insert suspicious glances from nurses looking for drug seekers here.
The hospital staff was very nice and let Eric come back with me to the exam room. We both giggled a little that people seemed to think we were more "together" than we actually were. "Maybe they know something we don't... hee hee hee..."
I was unable to get my leg into all the positions for the x-rays they wanted. In particular, laying on my back with my knee bent so my foot was flat on the table was a problem. After an attempt at forcing it, the merciful technician said, "We'll let them take a look at what they have and if it isn't enough we will try again." Thank goodness. I waited the couple of minutes for someone to come get me with the wheelchair.
When I wheeled into the exam room, Eric was a little pale. "So, it's broken, huh?" he said. "WHAT?" Apparently the nurse got to the room before me and had already shared my diagnosis with him -- broken patella. So now we know, it is possible to break your kneecap from something other than a mafia hit (though I did tell a few people that is what happened).
My first broken bone other than a toe. My patella broke into a peace sign. The doctor praised my overall conditioning/strength. Apparently falls like mine typically result in torn tendons and ligaments around the knee, but my ligaments and muscles were strong enough that they held and as a result the stress went straight to my kneecap. To this day I don't know if that was actually a good thing. Did I get the better end of the bargain?
With a prescription for Vicodin, Eric shuttled me and a giant leg brace around town trying to find a pharmacy that was open late on a Saturday in a blizzard. Eventually we found one. We headed over to my mom's house and found that she was not home and wouldn't be until very late.
Eric made me a Digornio pizza and we watched "True Lies", classic Arnold - my first time seeing the movie. I sat in a drugged up stupor while Eric rubbed my feet, held my hand and felt uncomfortable about being alone in a house with me while I was in a vulnerable state.
He was an excellent nurse and very honorable, for the record.
Eight years later, we have plenty of stories of botched dates, botched anniversaries, overlooked special occasions. By far, this is our most extraordinary milestone story. How many people spend their first date in the emergency room in a blizzard?