I was about eight. We were back from the 'Death By CombiVan' in Europe situation and living separate lives - I went with Mum after the breakup, my brother stayed with Dad.
It was my turn to visit Dad for the weekend - and I was bored out of my scone as only 8-y-old girls can be. So I stole my brother's bike. He would have killed me had he known. Not that he wanted it - he'd gone to a friend's place to kick the footy, so I knew he wouldn't be back for HOURS.
My brother was older and taller than me. His bike was THE BUSINESS and I coveted it like whoa. So I stole it for a ride.
Forgetting that it had hand-brakes, instead of the pedal-brakes like my baby bike. Did I mention I stole the bike from the house at Lorne? Lorne is a beautiful town built on an incredibly steep hill that gives long term residents calves of steel and visitors four heart-attacks a week.
I rode the bike downhill (Did you think I'd be stupid enough to go uphill?) Things got fast and furious, so I slammed on the brakes. Only my feet did nothing because - hello - no pedal brakes on this baby. Gaining speed and proximity to the kerb, I remembered in the nick of time the hand brake. I squeezed it. Being a girl (and the baby of the family) I had no strength in my hands. (I couldn't get the lids off jars until well into my 20s).
|Why yes, there it is.|
Now, when you plant a tree, it's common in Australia to whack in a small wooden stake to support the sapling. Luckily for me, instead of a long pointy stake (never one single vampire attack in Lorne) Dad had banged in a piece of four by two next to the tree.
This hard piece of sticking out wood is what I landed on. Stomach first. If it had been a proper thin stake, it would have impaled me. Instead it winded me and gave me internal bleeding.
AND I SAID NOTHING
By the time I got my breath back, panic set in. I could barely stand, but to my immense relief the tree has survied 20 kilos of child (thanks to the stake!) and the bike was undamaged too. But I had to get inside otherwise I'd get in trouble.
That night I did get in trouble for not eating dinner (nothing unusual for me) but the really important lesson was that because I didn't tell anyone about coming off the bike, I didn't get into trouble for stealing the bike and nearly killing a tree.
Twenty years later, I had a scan on my liver. The spleen sits beside the liver, filtering and cleaning blood so you can fight off infections. Apparently the spleen is the organ that gives you a good and proper fever to fight things off. On the scan, the spleen sat there, like the dishes in the sink that won't load themselves into the dishwasher.
"Have you fallen off a horse or been in a car accident or something?" The technician asked delicately . . . Then she explained what I was seeing. A useless lump of an organ that had suffered a massive bang, internal bleeding and completely shut down. But it was OK, because we can live without our spleens. Although she said I was lucky the internal bleeding hadn't been any worse, cos that can kill ya!
Today, in honour of my useless but lucky spleen, I bought a lottery ticket.