Duane Sherrill

In an instant I found myself being thrown from the rollercoaster. My arms flailed as I was flung from the speeding wooden sled. I reached out to grab the rail but grasped nothing but air. I opened my mouth to scream but nothing came out. My life passed before me (admittedly a fairly boring video compilation even though it was set to “Rock n’ Roll All Night” by KISS) as the ground quickly approached. I braced for impact, extending my arms out in hope of softening what was sure to be a mighty blow.

BOOOOM!!! I slapped the ground, the Earth underneath me vibrating with the impact of my body losing in its fist fight with gravity. Everything stopped for a moment. I lay there in shock, taking inventory.

“No bones poking through the skin,” I mumbled to myself as I felt for injuries before trying to pick myself up.

“Ouch!” I exclaimed as I clutched my back which was wrenched in the fall.

“What was that!” my son Henry bellowed as he came running out of his bedroom at our house. “There was a big boom and … are you alright, dad?”

I slowly stood erect, stretching out my back as I pulled the Oculus virtual reality game off my face, exiting my near-death experience while entering back into the real world.

“It’s so real,” I said, clutching my back, wincing in between laughs.

“Did you fall?” Henry asked in amazement.

I gave him a reassuring smile. “Yep,” I confirmed with a bit of embarrassment, admitting that the gift I had just given him for Christmas had reduced me to a rubble on the living room floor.

“Are you okay?” he asked. “Are you hurt?”

“Just my pride, son. Just my pride,” I smiled, still wincing a little bit. “Um, and maybe my back.”

My son is used to daddy hurting himself in unique ways. Henry had been with me at the weight room about four years ago when I injured myself, not by a feat of strength, but by tripping over a weight bench. Reaching out to catch myself in the gym that day ripped my shoulder. It sounded like the ripping of tissue paper to me, meaning I had ripped my deltoid or pectoral muscle. It left me with what I call a “G.I. Joe arm” for about two weeks where I couldn’t use my arm correctly.

In the case of being ejected from the moving roller coaster this past week, the treatment ended up being ice, ice and more ice with a side dish of heat. It also left me explaining my condition when people asked what was wrong with me.

“I fell off of a moving roller coaster,” I replied to the inquiries. “I’m lucky to be alive.”

I can say this now and kind of laugh about it now that my aching back has somewhat recovered. However, the spill could have been much worse if I’ve cracked my noggin on some furniture on the way down. I’ll admit it, I didn’t know what was up and what was down when I lost my balance playing the game. When they say virtual reality, they mean it.

The game is such that it tricked my brain into believing I was on a roller coaster, throwing off my balance and sense of equilibrium, causing me to fall to the floor. It was reaching out to pad my fall that caused my back to get injured.

“Let that be a lesson, Sherrill, not to be playing those games,” I can hear you say as you put down your PS5 controller.

Actually, there was a lesson learned. Now, when I play that same game, I sit in a chair and am quick to hit the panic button if I feel I’m about to get ejected again. Yes, there’s a panic button that you can hit that will stop the coaster should you lose your balance or feel ill.

Hopefully, that will be the last tumble I’ll take playing the game. I’ll have to find some other novel way to injure myself.