I think that when we see people get hurt it affects us partly because we are vulnerable, it could happen to us, and that is part of our horror. That feeling is amplified by, oh I dunno about a zillion, when we think of our children getting hurt. So on Saturday night, when Roan missed his footing on the stepstool in our kitchen and my reach didn’t break his fall and he hit the floor backwards I closed my eyes before I looked at him, and I knew somehow – I didn’t want to see. So I grabbed him close and said, “It’s ok”. I think I said it as an instruction to myself rather than a comfort to my son. And when I saw the contortion of his little left arm, then met the horrified eyes of my husband, I knew it was time to be strong and cool and leave my own freak-out until later. Roan’s arm was clearly broken, and I didn’t have a plan.
The best I could do was, “Anson, go grab a cab. We’ll take it to the ER. No wait, should we call 911? No go get the taxi. No, should we call Kara or Lola for a ride? They’ll get here quickly. No just get a cab. Yes, taxi. Now.”
Only in Brooklyn. Or Maybe Manhattan. OK, Maybe any Metropolitan Area.
Just an aside about Anson: he is strong and smart and the most capable person I’ve ever met at the widest assortment of things. But he doesn’t really function so well under intense crisis type pressure (he almost fainted at our wedding. That was sort of like a crisis. Made me love him more, though.) So while he was out I wondered if he would make it back, or be lying in a heap on the sidewalk. Roan only cried, and mildly so, for about 3 minutes, and just started asking questions, like why is Dad getting a cab? Where are we going? I told him we had to take him to the hospital to fix his arm, because it really needed some help. His eyes brightened, and he said, “Help like I’ll need a cast?” I told him for sure he would, and he was calm and waited for me to get my shoes on.
Anson returned and had triumphed in a magnificent way. He did not hail a taxi. No, he flagged down an ambulance and brought them to our front door. I grew brand new confidence in that man right then. We got to the hospital, and Roan was definitely in shock as he had sort of shut down, but he could answer questions, and was as calm as could be. He mostly complained about the ice pack the paramedics had put on his arm because it was cold.
No Cell Phone Usage Allowed
When my boys went into the X-Ray room I sort of had my own special break down. I couldn’t be with them because I’m pregnant. Being alone and knowing that this process was going to be very painful for Roan – moving the arm around in different positions to get all the angles – I couldn’t stand not being in there with him. So I started texting my family (ignoring all the signs that said not to use cell phones), and when there was more and more and more time passing I posted my situation on Facebook which at the time I felt kind of dumb about doing but I just needed to have some community around me. And you know – it worked. I started getting loads of texts and comments and support from my people. And that helped because I could hear my boy whimpering in the room next door for over ½ hour and I thought I would die not being next to him.
|Sometimes Rainbows Are Not All That Beautiful.
The X-rays showed that Roan had broken both his radius and ulna in the forearm. The doctor said it was the kind of break they’d need to anesthetize him to set. Since Roan had just eaten, he also said they’d have to wait at least two hours before they did that. So we were looking at the entire night, in the ER. Roan and I started watching Tom and Jerry on my iPhone. He wasn’t complaining, and I was trying to not look at his arm, bent like a rainbow. He had received no pain medication, but was just chilling and enjoying some Looney Tunes. I was a proud and sad mama.
Making the World Small
Another doctor showed up on the scene and said that since he seemed to be tolerating the pain so well, she thought she could set it just by injecting a local anesthetic into the arm where it was broken. The idea of that totally threw me – I mean, I didn’t want him to feel that. But I also knew he’d probably feel better if he didn’t have to be put under. So we agreed, and I put my forehead on his, and cupped my hands over our eyes, trying to make our world together really small as she put a giant needle into his arm, where it was broken. He cried in pain and all I could do was kiss his eyeballs, forehead, and cheeks telling him all about the homemade ice cream we’d eat when we got home. In my life, I’ve never wanted to take pain away from someone so desperately. But true to form, he
bounced back within a few minutes, and as the doctor began to set his arm, my friend Lola showed up, with a blanket for the boy, a sweater for me, and the calmest sweetest smiles that lifted everyone up. Her husband was waiting outside, to give us all a ride home.
We got home and set up a Family Slumber Party in the living room. We ate ice cream and started to watch a movie but Roan fell asleep within minutes. I don’t think I slept at all, as I kept waking up to make sure he was ok. Anson was in the same boat as me. We wondered to each other how we had been so traumatized by this event – a boy breaking his arm. It’s a right of passage, a common childhood occurrence, and one that we’ve both been through in our own younger days. But it was really intense to watch Roan have to go through it, and to shine so brightly as he did. I wouldn’t have been less proud had he wailed like a maniac the whole time, but his peaceful demeanor and willingness to get through it gave me my own sense of peace.
|So now, with his friends and cousins digging into their own hard-earned money in their piggy banks to buy him presents (Wii games that he can play one-handed), and with cards and designs and flowers and pictures being gifted to him, Roan feels less encumbered and more like a rock star. He is proud of his new ideas and ways he’s finding to do things one-handed. He hasn’t complained even once about pain, or anything else for that matter. He sat and watched me teach kickboxing yesterday, and waited until after class to kick at the bag a little, and do some wicked crosses, as his jab is currently unavailable. I’m finally beginning to feel a little more normal, no longer on high alert.
So this is what it is to be a parent, huh? This is some scary stuff.