The time has come for this tale to be told. To the faint of heart, proceed with caution…
It was late October of last year, and my volleyball team was at the University of Texas at Arlington for a regular season match against the Mavericks. We had spent the previous day practicing and also running through the halls of the College Park Center arena trying to catch Flo Rida when he arrived to prepare for his less-than-capacity concert that night. But that is another story…
On game day, the match got off to a rough start, with us dropping a close first set. But about halfway through the second, we were neck-in-neck and gradually playing stronger. I was playing at the right front position and enjoying our building momentum. During one of the rallies, the ball was set to the Mavs’ outside hitter, so I jumped and pressed my hands over the net to block her hit. Through some strange combination of luck and skill, she managed to hit the ball so that it only made contact with the small finger of my right hand before flying out of bounds.
As soon as I landed I clutched my whole hand tightly, overwhelmed by the shearing pain. I was pretty sure I had badly jammed my finger – a common occurrence for front row players – and just hoped the pain would die down quickly so I could keep playing. I made eye contact with my concerned teammates and giggled nervously so they wouldn’t be worried, then we all laughed it off and returned to our spots to receive the next serve. I let go of my pulsing hand and shook it out, then glanced down just to check out how swollen my finger was. It was then that I noticed the blood trailing down my wrist and arm and followed it back to my pinky finger, where I found that it was not only swollen but also out of alignment and split open to the bone at the middle joint.
Initial internal reaction: Ew ew ew AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!
Initial external reaction: I actually hardly remember this because I think I went into shock, but I rely on the trustworthy statements of my teammates. I looked straight at my head coach and began to walk off the court as everyone stared at me in confusion; then I broke the silence with a rather inappropriate word…(sorry everyone). As this is rare coming from me, it served as a signal to my coach that perhaps something was wrong. He calmly turned to the referee: “Um, can we get a time-out?”
My teammates tell me that I quickly walked over to the bench just repeating, “Help. I need help. Help me,” over and over as my trainer tried to make me let go of my bleeding hand. After I sat down, a concerned teammate tried to pour some water into my mouth from a paper cup, but at this point I was crying and gasping and ended up pretty much spewing the water back on her…(again, I’m sorry). I also kept hysterically apologizing for crying, but our setter patted me on the back and told me it was perfectly okay, as she craned her neck to catch a glimpse of my mutilated digit.
I don’t remember what happened the rest of the set, but we did win, and my teammates sympathetically wished me well before running off to the locker room for the break. One of my assistant coaches left me with these comforting words: “Don’t worry Cass, you’re gonna be fine – the same exact thing happened to me when I tried to block Logan Tom.” Logan Tom is the starting outside hitter for the US Women’s National Team. I remember thinking that if Logan Tom had exploded my finger, I probably wouldn’t be that upset…
A UTA student trainer took me to the emergency room, where I was placed in a room with a TV that was stuck on a channel playing one of the Law and Order shows. The trainer sat with me and gave me updates on the ongoing match as nurses came in to clean my finger, numb it up, put the dislocated joint back in place, stitch the torn skin back together, and stabilize it with an unnecessarily large splint. I stared at the TV, the wall, my kneepads and spandex (which I was still wearing, along with my uniform), anything to keep me from seeing my finger, and I grinned when the trainer gave me the final outcome of the match: DU takes the win.
My two assistant coaches met me at the ER with a change of clothes and rushed me to the airport in time to catch our flight back to Denver. As I walked through security to our gate, my teammates cheered for me like I was a soldier returning from war. That’s when I realized that although my finger had been dislocated in a most unlucky incident (and not even by a famous person), knowing those girls still made me one of the luckiest people alive 🙂
(Originally posted 3/13/13)