Click-clack. Click-clack. The chorus of my cleats works to outpace the racing of my
heart. Lub-dub. Lub-dub. Arm in arm, our army of thirty-seven soldiers of scarlet and silver
march down the concrete ramp to the coliseum like stadium that is Bettendorf’s “Touvelle
Stadium.” The orange November sun is setting at our backs--setting the stage for a wild west like
showdown set to kickoff at seven o’clock. Seemingly weightless, we stride to our sideline and
are met by the uproar of energy unraveling from the overflowing visitors section. Shoulder to
shoulder, we strongly stand and face the flag to pay our righteous respect. The trombones of the
band let loose their last note, and we fasten our gear before we set to face the odds stacked
We are ready to kickoff. We are ready to win. We are ready to make history. . .
Joe Theismann, former NFL quarterback for the Washington Redskins, once described it
as, “two muzzled gunshots,” in his infamous injury. Dennis Golinghorst, my dad, described it as,
“a tire getting popped,” from his viewpoint in the second row of the bleachers. Personally, I
heard the sound of two rocks being hit together, accompanied with a tingling sensation like “Pop
Rocks” in your mouth, shooting down my left leg. What I saw when I looked down I can not
describe in words. But what I learned about all that accompanies breaking your leg, and what is
special about living in a close knit Iowa community, I will keep with me forever.
The life has seemingly been sucked from the air of the stadium, as all eyes turn towards
me (and those closer look away) as I writhe in pain, and scream like I never have before. As my
instinctive responses of shock begin to settle, I am calmed and comforted by the people around
me. Medical personnel, coaches, and my parents all contribute to calming and comforting me. “I
never thought this would happen to me” is all I can utter, as I see the red and blue flashing of the
ambulance approaching in my peripherals.
As the medics address my issue, they are pleased to be equipped with an inflatable splint,
the latest and greatest in treating a broken leg. The leading First Aid Supplier of the United
States defines the inflatable splint as, “a plastic piece of first aid equipment that is premade in the
shape of a limb. It is used to hold the bones in an immobile position until the patient is able to be
taken to a hospital to have the bone set and put in a cast. An inflatable splint is only used to
immobilize a broken limb temporarily” (“When”). Very similar to the air pump used to check
blood pressure on your bicep, the splint keep all parts together, and allows for as little handling
as possible of the broken bones. With my leg stabilized, I am lifted into the ambulance at the
applause of the crowd from both ends of the stadium. Divided in their hopes for the game but
united for their hopes in my well being, they applaud as the operating room table awaits my
The white and bright ceiling walls of the hospital room blur together, as the small talk of
the middle aged female nurse pounding away on her keyboard, and the nurse with the soft and
sweet voice from across the room talk with one another. Having never been on an anesthetic
before, the feeling of numbness is new for me, as I comprehend that I have just undergone
surgery. I hear the wheels of my gurney as they bump over each floor tile, and the blank ceiling
tiles pass overheard, coming to my senses of the reality of my situation. I am wheeled to what
will become my temporary home for the next few days, a more calming atmosphere, that is my
own patient room, where my parents are there to greet me. Initially I overlook him, but then I see
the man in the white lab coat holding what seems to be x-rays of the surgery he just conducted.
Holding the news of my future in his hand.
The surgeon explains what has just occured, in attempt for my brain to wrap around the
situation. Both the tibia and fibula have been completely snapped, and I have undergone
intramedullary rod surgery for my tibia, the shin bone of the leg. When I ask about the fibula, the
surgeon explains that it is less of a big deal, and that it will heal on its own. To express the
explanation given by Wayne State University School of Medicine in terms everyone can
understand, a titanium metal rod has surgically been inserted into my leg, basically replacing the
bone. Before that, the inner cavity of the bone was reamed out to make room for the rod to be
inserted. Then a pair of screws were inserted at the top and bottom of the rod, to keep it from
being jarred with movement. Later on in life, the screws may come out if they are to bother me
in any way, shape, or form (Glowniak). The surgeon explains to me that the surgery is far from
pretty. Being frank, a cut is made at my knee so the surgeon has access to the top of the tibia,
then a sort of drill is used to hollow out the bone, next the metal rod is pounded into place in my
leg, followed by some screws being attached to assure it is in place, and then the cuts are stitched
back together. This concept and idea I found to be astonishing, and made me ponder who was
crazy enough to come up with this idea of replacing someone's bone with something artificial. A
team of doctors at NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases report the origins of intramedullary
surgeries, “Bernardino de Sahagun, a 16th century anthropologist who traveled to Mexico with
Hernando Cortes, recorded the first account of the use of an intramedullary device. De Sahagun
witnessed Aztec physicians placing wooden sticks into the medullary canals of patients with long
bone nonunions” (Bong). With due reason, I am thankful to have the ample medical technology
available in our world today, to be able to go through the process of this surgery seamlessly.
However, the marathon of a process simply does not end when the surgeon puts in the
last stitch. Following the surgery is a span on months involving x-rays, physical therapy, and
other appointments much like any other surgery. I came to the realization that this process is
inevitable, and learned to get through it all with the most positive mental state possible. But what
you can not learn from any database, or in any library, is what it is like to undergo a negative
experience in a close knit community, in small town Iowa, like that which exists in the North
It takes special people who are doctors and surgeons in their day job, to then go volunteer
their time on Friday nights to be of assistance at football games, and have to put some kid’s leg
back together. Nobody told the teachers or coaches that they had to visit me in the hospital, or
take the time to write me a nice message telling me I am in their thoughts. For students, some of
whom I have never talked to, to gather in unison in prayer to think of me, is a feeling and emotion
that instantly brought me to tears and is unlike any other. It became apparent to me that life truly
does mean very little if you are experiencing it by yourself. It gave me a new way of being
empathetic, and a new set of shoes to put myself into the understanding of others. From this, I
have learned to be of comfort to others who are going through hard times, now that I understand
how that experience is from that perspective. I have grown to appreciate the community I live in,
and this experience has made me strive to give back to this community.
I learned far more from that November night than I ever thought would be possible. I
learned to appreciate the advances in technology that allow me to walk today, and most of all I
learned that the community I live in is one that is irreplaceable by any other.
Bong, Matthew R, et al. “The History of Intramedullary Nailing.”
Bulletin of the NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases, vol. 64, 2006, pp. 94–96.,
presentationgrafix.com/_dev/cake/files/archive /pdfs/581.pdf. Accessed 5 May, 2018.
Glowniak, Jerry V, and Peter R Miller. “Intramedullary Rods and Nails Overview.”
Orthopedic Hardware Atlas, Detroit Medical Center, www2.med.wayne.edu/diagRadiology/RSNA
2003/rods_and_nails_atlas.htm. Accessed 11 May, 2018.
“When and How to Use an Inflatable Splint.” 1stAidSupplies.Com, 2018, www.1staidsupplies.
com/blog/2017/06/26/when-and-how-to-use-an-inflatable-splint. Accessed 8 May, 2018.