And the weird thing is, I had a premonition that my trip to Six Flags Great America in Illinois was not going to end well. All week, I had the feeling of impending doom. As the days ticked down to Saturday's trip to the amusement park, I kept thinking to myself, "Well, I'm one day closer to dying. I may as well eat this entire tray of brownies because after Saturday, the calories won't really matter." Yes, I know that's a morbid thought. But something weird was happening. It was almost like an omen.
I was waking up with nightmares. I was getting sweaty palms and sweaty feet when I watched the YouTube videos of a few of the big coasters like Raging Bull and Goliath. Most people told me to just stop watching those videos because everything would be fine. But I thought if I just kept watching them, the scary feelings would magically go away since I would know what to expect. But they didn't. They kept getting worse as the day got closer.
And it's not like I've never been on a rollercoaster before. From the time I was tall enough to legally ride on all the big rides at Cedar Point and Geauga Lake in Ohio, I loved them. I would drag my poor dad along on all the tallest, wildest, steepest (or whatever other thrilling adjectives they assigned) rides. But that's when I was younger. And during that naïve time in my life (and as many of you probably also remember), your adolescent brain thinks you're invincible. As an adult, I realize now that heart attacks are real possibilities and nuts and bolts can come loose at any time. And one little lap bar is not enough. I was quite literally having visions of all of the above at one time.
So what's the best way to avoid a heart attack and death on a scary rollercoaster? Easy: Don't go on it. So I didn't. There were plenty of other rides to enjoy. Like the teacups. And from 10:30am when the park opened until 9pm when they closed, I intended to ride everything that wouldn't necessarily kill me. And I succeeded until about 8pm.
And that's when it happened. And when I say "it happened", I mean "IT HAPPENED."
We were making our rounds through the park. I had checked off quite a few rides from the park map. All except one that I remembered from my youth that I just had to go on before we called it a day.
And though different versions went by different names, I remember that type of ride from past fairs and other amusement parks. Its nostalgia brought me back in time. And on Saturday, almost landed me in the hospital. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
See, it was dark. And I was excited. There really wasn't anyone in line because most people were still in the over-2-hour line for Goliath. So maybe I wasn't really watching where I was going. Or maybe the sidewalk gave way beneath my feet. Or maybe I'm just a hazard to myself.
But upon entering into what I like to call the "people corral" to follow the line to the ride entrance, I tripped. And while most people could probably catch themselves and laugh off a stumble, that's not what happened.
Instead, my foot caught in a lip of concrete and I proceeded to sail through the air and SLAM straight down onto both knees. The two collector cups filled with pop that I carried (sidenote: why are these $14.99 each?????? For pop?!?!?!) both went flying. Dark, carbonated, sugary sweetness went everywhere including, but not limited to: in my hair, on my clothes, and all over the ground.
However, spilled soda at $14.99-a-crack was the least of my problems. Upon impact with the cement, I felt as if lightning had struck me from below. Bolts of pain slammed up through both of my knees with such force that I swear to god, I felt it in my scalp. The moment of contact felt as if my kneecaps were pulverized into sand in an instant.
I was afraid to get up. So I didn't. I grabbed both knees, choked back some tears that had sprang forth, and rolled onto my back like a pathetic, upended turtle. I thought I was dying. I mean, I literally thought death was going to overcome me. And here, I didn't even need a rollercoaster to act as the grim-reaper. I just needed a sidewalk and my own klutzy feet.
And unfortunately, where once there was not a soul in line, a huge crowd now formed around me of gawkers and concerned ride operators waiting to see if the turtle would move.
When I opened my eyes to look up at this crowd, I don't know what was worse: my embarrassment for almost killing myself on the pavement with a legendary tumble OR the actual feeling that I may never walk again.
I choked out through my sobs (Great! Add some hyperventilation into the mix because at this point, why not?) that 'I was fine.' I told everyone that I just needed to get up and everything would be ok. So I attempted it, but kept both hands firmly on my knees.
I thought if I removed them, one of three things would happen:
1-Blood would gush out all over the ground (and mix with the pop).
2-My kneecaps would completely fall off my legs.
3-I would see that my favorite yoga capris had shredded knees (and they were my absolute favorite pair).
So I had to hold all that in. Literally. With my hands.
Don't laugh. Maybe I had a head injury because even as the paramedics arrived, I still wasn't letting go. Maybe they weren't paramedics. Maybe they were just the "In Case Some Idiot Like Me Trips And Falls Crew" but they looked professional. They also assured me that not only my pants but also my knees did not appear to be completely obliterated but I might want to consider some stitches.
Stitches require needles. At least they did the last time I needed them and as many of you know, I can't handle needles. AT ALL. PERIOD.
END. OF. STORY.
So I tried to play it off like blood wasn't dripping down my legs and I wasn't about to pass out and hit the pavement again for the second time in an hour. "No, I'm good. I'm fine. I can't even feel it. It's fine. Thank you for the Band-Aid. We're just going to be on our way now."
And I guess I am technically fine. My bloody knees have scabbed over now. My turtle impression has turned into more of a penguin-waddle-imitation as to not bend my sore knees. I may have broken my pinky finger but that swelling has went down considerably. The next morning, I woke up with massive purplish-red bruising along my right hip and butt. I don't even know how that got there but I'm assuming on my initial descent to the ground I bashed it off one side of the metal people corral.
But I'm alive. Which is better than what I thought was going to happen. I just didn't know I needed kneepads and a helmet to walk through the park.
Next time, I'll plan ahead.