The day I thought I was paralyzed: A tree story

One of my friends… actually she wasn’t even my friend. Her name was Megan. She lived at the end of the street where I grew up.

Her family had some crazy dogs, and I never really got to know them, the family or the dogs.

Anyway, they had a wooden, playhouse in their backyard. This was the first time I’d played on it.

They’d built the playhouse between two trees. It had a main floor on the ground and then a ladder to get on the roof from the inside. It was pretty sweet.

So one day, we’re all out playing there, and I decided to climb one of the trees next to the playhouse.

I always loved climbing trees, and this tree was one of those perfect ones, you know, like that has 3-5″ branches conveniently spaced every few feet all around. It was a little sappy, but I didn’t care.

From the top of the playhouse roof, I started climbing.

I only made it one branch up, just enough time to grab on with both hands, swing up my feet, and start reaching for the next branch.

I don’t remember the branch breaking. I barely remember the fall. I just remember lying on the ground with a branch on top of me, out of breath, thinking I was paralyzed.

At first, I was just stunned, like, Wow, I just fell out of a tree. When I opened my mouth to try to speak, though, nothing came out. I tried again. Nothing.

That’s when I panicked. My friends started to gather around, looking down at me from all sides as I lay on the ground with my mouth open for breath.

They see me struggling here, I thought. Don’t they realize I can’t move, that my body doesn’t work? Why doesn’t someone run to get an ambulance?

I tried moving my legs, but I couldn’t feel them. I tried moving my arms. They wouldn’t budge. I couldn’t even turn my head from staring through the tree into the sun.

I’m dying here. Somebody help me. Notice me. Please. Get the ambulance.

Eventually, I caught enough air to mutter something.

“Am… ambulance.”

No one rushed off.

“Are you okay?” someone finally asked.

Another friend tried to help me up. To my surprise, I could stand on my own.

“You okay?” I heard again.

I stumbled a step backward.

Someone else offered, “Maybe we should get his dad or something?”

I looked around, still standing, still surprised I wasn’t paralyzed. Wow, maybe I am okay. Wait—what did I say? Did I actually ask for an ambulance out loud?

Then I remembered them asking if I was okay. I must have blushed.

“Yeah,” I shrugged, “I’m fine.”