This Side Up

Skating isn`t like cycling, you can forget how to stop


I’ve found a new use for those plastic orange bags the Journal and the Beacon use for delivery. You know the ones I mean; the ones you see poking from the pockets of people walking their dogs.

The revolutionary new use quite literally hit me. More accurately, I had to get hit before I discovered their new use. Of course, take the paper out of the bag and read it before attempting what I’m going to suggest.

It all started a week ago Saturday, about the fourth day of this extended freeze.

My son Ted called to let me know the pond across from his house in North Kingstown was frozen and he thought the ice might be thick enough for skating. My daughter-in-law Erica wasn’t enamored of this plan. Before anyone was to go on the pond she wanted to know just how thick the ice was. But then she wasn’t sure what would be a safe number.

Ted reassured her he’d check it out in a shallow end of the pond first. And sure enough I found him on the ice with a drill when I arrived with my skates.

“Four inches,” he reported. He pointed to a half-inch hole about 10 feet from shore.

“As soon as I drilled it, it cracked,” he said. A crack raced out from the hole toward the middle of the pond. “You should have heard it.”

I imagine Erica would have stressed out had she been there. I jumped on the ice. It was like a rock, not so much as a distant rumble.

“Looks good,” I said. From the marks, it was apparent that Ted had already given it a test. His twin daughters, Alex and Sydney, were joining us. Neither had skated before, so this was a bit of an adventure.

I squeezed into the hockey skates from my short-lived tenure on my high school team that ended abruptly after I broke my collarbone. The skates were tight and my ankles were weak. The edge of the pond was filled with frozen leaves and sticks, just the kind of thing that makes it tough to skate. The surface of the ice was milky except for rings of clear ice around stumps poking up from the bottom.

I pushed off, the smoothness of the ice improving the further I went. Soon the girls joined us. Sydney tried walking in short steps. Alex clung to Ted and finally got the hang of it pushing a road caution cone.

Ted, who never did much skating, was a bit shaky but gaining speed and balance with each pass to the middle of the pond. He glided by me and then on the return asked, “How do you do a hockey stop?”

Now that, I thought, was easy. I would show Ted. I set off and toward the middle of the pond, turned and built up speed. As I approached Ted I threw my body sideways. I stopped all right, but not as planned. My left elbow hit the ice with a crack and pain shot down my left leg.

“You okay?” Ted asked. With chagrin, I declared myself fine.

My elbow was still swollen four days later and tender to the touch. It was tough sleeping. Finding a comfortable position was difficult. My self-diagnosis was that I had a hematoma that I would need it drained if it didn’t show signs of improving. Thursday morning, with the storm raging, I figured would be the best time to make a visit to CareWell Urgent Care on Centerville Road. I’d get to assess storm conditions, grab some pictures and get urgent care for myself.

I wasn’t right on the pictures. I had trouble enough finding the road no less getting photographs. I was right about Urgent Care. The place was empty with the exception of the staff of four.

After a series of x-rays, I was given the news that I had a possible fracture that would need to be verified by a radiologist the following day. As a precaution, they would fit me with a cast. With my arm positioned in a perpetual Napoleon pose, they strapped on the casting material that quickly hardened. Their advice was not to let it get wet and wrap it in Saran Wrap when I took a shower. That seemed to be the least of my concerns. I had yet to get on my jacket and drive in the storm, which showed no sign of letting up.

I managed to get as far as the city garage where I connected with the mayor and crew for a tour to assess conditions. I ended up leaving the car there and they dropped me off at home. That was safer for me and everyone else.

So, you’re wondering what this all has to do with plastic newspaper bags.

Their revolutionary new use came into play the following morning. Saran Wrap didn’t seem practical, but those bags are made for keeping casts dry. I showered. The cast stayed dry. Getting dry and dressed were other issues, but the cast was good.

The best was yet to come. That afternoon Bethany from Urgent Care called. The radiologist confirmed that I didn’t have a fracture. I could abandon the cast. I was told to ice the elbow and take Tylenol.

I didn’t tell her about the bags, but now that I think of it, that’s another good reason to subscribe to a newspaper.


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Saturday, January 13, 2018