The Fourth of July. A time for cookouts, a time for fireworks, and a time to celebrate American independence. And for my family, a time to ride in an ambulance.
Back when my incredibly handsome twin brother Ron and I were in our early teens, we were spending the July 4th holiday at Lake Nocona. Our family had property in the Nocona Hills Country Club, and Ron and I were spending the day at the country club swimming pool. It was a pretty nice pool, but there were times when the chlorine levels were so high it made the water very murky. This was one of those times.
I had just executed a perfect 1½ somersault off the low dive and was heading back to the surface. Ron, who was next off the diving board, decided this would be a perfect opportunity to splash me, and he attempted a jackknife. As mentioned earlier, the water was murky, so he landed too close to me as I was surfacing and the back of his head hit the top of my head.
At this point I was unaware of what or whom I had hit. I just felt a stabbing pain in my head, so I let forth a curse or two and swam to the side. Apparently, the curse wasn't under my breath because a little girl told me to watch my language. I replied, "I just hit my head, so mind your own darn business." (Not one of my finer moments.)
I climbed the ladder with one hand on my head. I looked at my hand and saw that it was covered in blood. (Mike, the lifeguard, told me later that at this point blood was spurting out of my head.) After seeing the blood, I decided it would be a good time to lay on the concrete.
Mike came to help, yelling for someone to call an ambulance. At this point, I realized that I didn't see Ron anywhere, so I thought he might still be underwater. I tried to tell Mike that I thought my brother was still in the pool, but he kept telling me to calm down and not say anything. I finally gave up when I saw Ron surface and swim to side.
Ron managed to get partially up the ladder and collapsed on the concrete. As he lay there bleeding from the back of his head, someone yelled, "Oh my God, there's another one."
The ambulance arrived a few minutes later. Since my injury seemed worse, I was put on the stretcher, while Ron got the board. As they were wheeling me to the ambulance, my mom ran up to see how I was doing. Since my mom had a tendency to overreact, she was crying and blubbering, "Are you OK?" I calmly replied, "I'm OK. I just cut my head open." I paused, and then continued, "But you should see Ron. I think he almost drowned!" Of course, that caused my mom to run off crying to go check on Ron. (Again, not one of my finer moments.)
The ambulance ride was mostly uneventful, mainly because they refused to turn on the siren even after we repeatedly asked them to. One eventful part was whenever they turned a corner, because the board Ron was on would go sliding into the side of the ambulance.
Upon arriving at the hospital, we were taken to the emergency room where the area around the injury had to be shaved. My nurse was very upset that we were interrupting her dinner break (like we had any control over that), so she proceeded to shave a large portion of my head in a few seconds with no concern to how much pain she was causing. Ron's nurse took her time, making a concerted effort not to hurt him.
We were then given shots to deaden the pain. (Perhaps that should have come before the head shaving.) A few minutes later the doctor arrived.
Like any small town, Nocona probably didn't get the pick of litter when it came to doctors. I'm not saying the guy was bad, but his nickname was Malpractice. (Sadly, that's not a joke.) As he was putting the stitches in my head, I felt every bit of it. I pointed out that apparently my head wasn't dead, but my happy nurse told me to be quiet because my head WAS dead. (What did I know, I was just the patient.)
After 5 stitches for each of us, we headed back to our lake property. We weren't allowed to get our stitches wet, so we couldn't go swimming the rest of the holiday week. And since we had parts of our heads shaved, we spent the entire time wearing baseball caps.
All-in-all, it was an eventful holiday. And from that point on, we were very well-known around the country club.