How to Break a Bone

A lyrical guide

by Nina Murray


A bone fracture (sometimes abbreviated FRX or Fx) is a medical condition in which there is a break in the continuity of the bone. A bone fracture can be the result of high force impact or stress, or trivial injury as a result of certain medical conditions that weaken the bones, such as osteoporosis, bone cancer or osteogenesis imperfecta, where the fracture is then properly termed a pathologic fracture. Although broken bone and bone break are common colloquialisms for a bone fracture, break is not a formal orthopedic term.

She runs her fingers through her hair, tilts her head and says, “Someone said to me, ‘I think you have been [sexually] assaulted’ and I was like, ‘What? No, surely not.’ And that was the paradigm shift and that’s when I really started questioning everything that had happened.”

And suddenly, I, the interviewer, start crying, and Emma,* the interviewee, comforts me.

On April 25th this year, an earthquake shook Nepal to its core. Nearly 1,000 are known to have died in a powerful earthquake, with many more feared trapped under rubble, officials say. The 7.8 magnitude quake struck an area between the capital, Kathmandu, and the city of Pokhara, the US Geological Survey said. Tremors were felt across the region, with further loss of life in India, Bangladesh, Tibet and on Mount Everest.

I interview Emma the day after the earthquake in Nepal. I’m struggling to focus. 

Agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reportedly had “sex parties” with prostitutes hired by drug cartels in Colombia, according to a new inspector general report released by the Justice Department on Thursday.

“We were really excited to see each other and we went to dinner that night and we smoked out of an apple because no one had a piece on them and ended up going to my room and we kissed and it was romantic and wonderful and I hadn’t been with anyone in a long time.”

The earthquake killed more than 2,400 people and injured about 5,900. A day after, residents grew frantic and the government, entirely overwhelmed by the enormity of the challenge facing the country, struggled to provide relief, or much hope. 

Though I have heard bits and pieces of Emma’s story before, I have never heard it in its entirety before this moment.

“But throughout the whole relationship, I was like, ‘This is great but I don’t want to have sex with you, I’m not ready to have sex with you.’ And he pressured me, but never forced himself on me, so I thought that was healthy sexuality.”

“I remember when we first started dating. He was so gentle with me.”

In addition, Colombian police officers allegedly provided “protection for the DEA agents’ weapons and property during the parties,” the report states. Ten DEA agents later admitted attending the parties, and some of the agents received suspensions of two to 10 days.

 “And he’s the first boy I ever fell in love with. We didn’t have a particularly balanced or healthy relationship, but I was like, ‘This is college, this is the time to be crazy and be vulnerable.’ ”

I blink quickly. A great deal of her story is familiar to me. It sounds like one of my stories, a story my sister confided in me over frantic cigarettes, a story my best friend whispered, barely audible over the roar of her shame.

The parties reportedly took place from 2005 to 2008, but the DEA’s Office of Professional Responsibility became aware of them only in 2010, after it received an anonymous complaint. DEA supervisors, however, had been aware of the allegations for several years because of complaints from management of the building in which the DEA office in Bogota was located. 

“I trusted someone and they betrayed my trust. I repeatedly told him no and he didn’t leave. I gave him reasons why I wanted him to leave and he didn’t respect those reasons. There are so many reasons why I’m not to blame, and there are so many why I feel like I am”

“I was dancing, I had way too many drinks. I was super, super drunk. Like blackout drunk. And I saw a boy across the room, that I’d really liked for a long time and we’d been trying to have a thing, we like locked eyes and I went over to him, and before I could get over to him, Aaron* intercepted and like attached himself to me for the rest of the night.”

The Nepali government has declared a state of emergency in the affected areas.

“We have to understand issue by issue what is happening. We need to understand how these people are being held accountable. There should be no question about the severity of the punishment,” Chaffetz said. “I don’t care how senior the person is, they are going to have to let these people go.” 

The natural process of healing a fracture starts when the injured bone and surrounding tissues bleed, forming a fracture hematoma. The blood coagulates to form a blood clot situated between the broken fragments.

“We need support from the various international agencies which are more knowledgeable and equipped to handle the kind of emergency we face now,” he said.  

“I went to Boettcher, really at [my] friend’s urging. I thought I could just muscle through it. I didn’t tell my mom about it, I still haven’t told her about it. I felt very ashamed and the woman at Boettcher was sort of like, ‘You seem to think that you are at fault and you feel a lot of guilt and shame and you are blaming yourself for this. I think you should talk to Tara [the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator].’ And the more and more I think about it, I do think I was partially at fault. At one point, I did consent, even though it wasn’t willing. . . it was coerced consent, if that is even a thing.”

In Nepal, it is increasingly evident that authorities here were ill-equipped to rescue those trapped and would have trouble maintaining adequate supplies of water, electricity and food. 

“And Aaron walked me home and I tried to get rid of him [at the door of my building] and he went inside anyway and I walked up the stairs to my room with him. . . and stopped outside the door and said, “Okay, my room’s a wreck, I’ve been really sick, I’m so drunk. Please go home, I want to go to bed.’”

Within a few days blood vessels grow into the jelly-like matrix of the blood clot. The new blood vessels bring phagocytes to the area, which gradually remove the non-viable material.  

“He pushed in my door and opened my door and I said, ‘Look it’s a wreck, I want to go to bed.’” All I remember is him pushing me against the closet door and kissing me and unbuttoning my jeans and I thought, ‘Maybe if I go down on him he’ll leave faster.’”

Moreover, the report states that DEA, ATF and the Marshals Service repeatedly failed to report all risky or improper sexual behavior to security personnel at those agencies. 

The blood vessels also bring fibroblasts in the walls of the vessels, and these multiply and produce collagen fibres. In this way, the blood clot is replaced by a matrix of collagen.  

“And then he didn’t leave and I thought, ‘I’ve never had sex before, but maybe if I just sleep with him, he’ll leave, I just want to be alone and I don’t know how to say that and I don’t know how to say no to him because he has such a hold over me. We shared a lot.”

It is the worst earthquake to strike Nepal since one in 1934 all but destroyed Kathmandu. 

Collagen’s rubbery consistency allows bone fragments to move only a small amount unless severe or persistent force is applied. 

I have spent this entire interview nearly silent. I now ask, “How do you feel right now, like talking to me. What are your emotions?”

A growing sense of despair spread through Kathmandu on Sunday as the devastated Nepali capital was convulsed by aftershocks that sent residents screaming into the streets, where they were pelted by heavy rain. 

“It’s hard. . . the contrast is really horrible, like I was really happy twenty minutes ago and right now I have a knot in my stomach and I feel really anxious and melancholy.”