It’s been said by someone, somewhere, at some point that trampoline accident videos are the reason for the internet. Well, that, and farting cat videos. But as much as I might like to watch people, or even cats, fall down, trampoline accidents, specifically, have always made me wince.
It was 1999. Like many other nerdy teens, I’m spending an evening trolling AOL chat rooms on the family computer. I’m pretending to “cyber” (that’s a precursor to sexting, look it up kiddies) with a lonely shut-in or six when a phone call kicked me offline. It was a neighbor, a friend of my younger sister, Mandy. (We were both named after songs now only heard in dentists’ offices.) She told me Mandy fell off her trampoline and was crying. Mandy was a bully, and I was her usual target. I took a moment to relish the thought of her in pain. “Okay, I’ll call my mom.” Instead, I immediately signed back into AOL to edit my Joaquin Phoenix Angelfire fansite.
In the mean time, the neighbor girl (since friended and unfriended on Facebook after some questionable Tea Party-related status updates) called 911. They took Mandy to the hospital, the one where my mom worked. I was busy hotlinking dreamy photos of Joaquin’s golden brown eyes when another call interrupted my work. Mom. “Mandy’s hurt!” Mandy’s really hurt. So much for sweet schadenfreude.
Continue this riveting story after the jump.
Mandy didn’t come home that night, or any night for the next two weeks. She hadn’t jumped from a roof or a window or even fallen off the bouncy death trap. She just caught an awkward recoil and set off a nightmare chain reaction: The force snapped her tibia. The wayward bone shattered her knee cap. Rogue pieces lodged in her blood vessels and nerve tissue. By the time the doctors realized that blood couldn’t flow past her knee, the tissue in her lower leg and foot had started to become necrotic. There was talk of amputation. She was a 14-year-old just jumping on a trampoline. During an eight-hour emergency surgery, the doctors sliced a line the length of her thigh to harvest blood vessels, then another incision down the front of her knee and shin. The resulting quadruple bypass saved her leg.
Mandy was put in an ankle-to-groin cast and used a wheelchair for months. We wheeled her through her Confirmation ceremony. We pushed her up to accept her grade school diploma. We wheeled her to a Hanson concert. We helped her scratch inside the cast with a hanger. We helped her in and out of the bathtub promising not to look at her naked. When the cast finally came off, her leg was a mess of bright red scar tissue. She used a walker for a while after that, tennis balls capping the device’s front legs. She rode the bus with that walker, and navigated her new high school behind it. Not exactly a tween’s dream.
Twelve years later, Mandy is fine. Almost. The nerve damage continues to prevent her from ever running, kneeling, or moving her toes. Her scars have faded from blood red to white, but her leg is still very much mangled. She still shies away from even the friendliest of sports. She never wears shorts or skirts.
All because of a trampoline accident. So, yeah, the videos don’t really do it for me.
I’m not trying to make a grand stand against laughing at people getting hurt. I’m in no position to preach. I LOL’ed at Antoine Dodson and his assaulted sister. (But then we all felt bad about it for a minute?) I smiled when the boy danced into the path of the ice cream truck. And the shopping cart face-plant girls? Oh brother. Why is that? Are we all just internet trolls who cannot comprehend human suffering unless it’s directly related to our personal experiences? Probably.