Three weeks ago today, I broke my ankle. I thought the most annoying parts of the whole thing were the emergency room, the insurance hoops to jump through and adjusting to life in a cast and on crutches. But I was wrong. The most annoying part of breaking my ankle and being in a cast, is that it seems the cast compels anyone and everyone around me to tell me their broken bone story. Or that of their cousin. Former roommate. Grandparent. Next door neighbor. Serial killer who lived down the street that nobody suspected. I hear them all day long.
I hear about how old they were, how they broke it, how many places and how bad. I hear about the orthopedic specialist getting it back in place or inserting pins, bolts, screws and other hardware and how they can still feel it when the weather is bad or they step, turn or sneeze just so. I have learned more about the skeletal structure from random strangers in the last three weeks than the rest of my entire life.
I have learned about the problems with plaster casts and how I should be so happy to have a fiberglass one. And everyone has tips on how to handle the itching, something I have not yet had to deal with and hopefully it will stay that way.
I have tried headphones and dark sunglasses, but people just won't let my cast pass them by without sharing. And I already can't stand when total strangers need to share parts of their life with me. I don't care and I don't want to feel obligated to nod, agree, smile and reply. I think someone intruding into my space when I am obviously occupied with something and forcing me to engage is rude. I just want to listen to my music or read my book or have a root canal.
Maybe some people find comfort in the fact that other total strangers they would never speak with in any other circumstance now have a reason to come talk to them and share a moment of their personal history. I am not one of those people. If you have never met me, please, just let me do whatever it was I was doing before my cast inspired you to share. Feel free to include me in your personal story when sharing with another random stranger or friend later, but otherwise, I don't want to know because I honestly do not care.