The superfluous, a very necessary thing. --voltaire
I walk into X-ray and find a young man sprawled out on a chair with both of his feet bare, shoes, socks and coils of ace bandages pilled in a heap next to him on the floor. His father sits against the wall, arms folded across his chest. They both greet me with silence. I cross to the view box where I find a set of films hanging that demonstrate views of both the right and left ankles.
I linger over the images, concentrating intently. Then I brace myself with an intake of breath, peer sideways at the father, then at his son, then turn and look incredulously down at the teenage boy's feet. I stare for a few moments in consideration.
Then I pull up a rolling stool and sit directly in front of the lad, poised to perform my examination, when with rapt interest in his answer I ask, "So tell me, what happened. It looks from the x-rays like both of your ankles are broken." The boy and his father exchange glances.
"Not only that," I say as I look up at the father, "but the exact same bone is broken in the exact same place on both sides." I have not seen simultaneous bilateral distal fibular fractures before today; I am really curious to hear how an injury like this has occurred.
The father says, "He didn't break them at the same time, you know."
"Oh really?" I look back to the boy. He speaks up. "I was out sledding on the snow, when this kid with a great big inner tube runs me over. That's how my foot got hurt."
"He keeps on sledding after that," the father adds, exasperated. "My son, don't get me wrong now, but he's not the brightest star in the sky. He keeps on playing around until he gets the other foot busted up too."
"After that I couldn't walk," the boy finishes. He seems disappointed.
I examine his feet. He has the exact same fracture on each foot on the same day. Amazing, remarkable. I look up at him. "Bad luck, man." He nods, resigned. I nod too. Yea, bad luck. What else can you say?