When I was two years old, I fell down two stairs and broke my arm.
My mother said she was devastated, and felt like the worst mother EVER when she brought me home from the hospital with the World’s Smallest Cast. People gave her funny looks, openly judging this possibly “abusive” woman and her victim child. What makes this story a chuckle is that when my father tried the pull off pjs, he accidentally pulled off my cast, so thin was my wee arm. The loss of the cast traumatized me, she said, as I thought it was part of my body. Thankfully, at this point, the fracture was healed. My father’s self esteem; in pieces.
Then I broke my collar-bone. I was five and didn’t bounce that well off the back of my dad’s pickup truck when he was “keeping an eye” on me. I did well for a couple of years, and was almost injury free. In Grade 7 my mother and I tacked up for an after school ride. It ended abruptly after my horse launched me into a rock pile in the first few minutes. I remember hold up my fettucine limp right arm and exclaiming to my mother, “Yup, it’s broke.”
Due to complications with the break (I came to while it was being set, and screamed so loud my father burst into the treatment room – not a good scene.) they decided to keep me in overnight. When I finally dozed off hours later, my mother was by my side, still in the clothes she wore when we went for our ride. Maybe she was avoiding going home, where my father declared he was going, to shoot the horse that dislodged me. (Fear not, he didn’t.)
I honestly couldn’t appreciate what my parents felt, watching me in these various scenarios. Kids get hurt, bones break. Big deal – they heal! It seemed like they were over reacting. (I’m not going to bore you with the details of my adventures that resulted in stitches. Believe me, that list is just as long.)
Then I became a mother.
And I had to take First Born Son to the hospital for a broken collar-bone.
In fairness to me, there was A LOT of stress going around and some extenuating circumstances that made this particular visit more frustrating that in might have been.
The doctor was very good in dealing with FBS and was direct when he told me, “It’s broken.” But one look at that X-ray and I LOST. MY. EVER. LOVIN’. MIND. Something in my head snapped and I had such a rush of adrenaline that made me feel like I could have thrown the X-ray machine across the emergency department. I’m not even really kidding about that. I was sad, scared and pissed off all the same time. Stike that. I was just pissed off. This injury was ill-timed and unfair, and I was beside myself just thinking about the consequences for my child. I would gladly let the doctor break MY collarbone, if it meant my son wouldn’t have to suffer. I could feel the irrational anger getting the better of me, and so I sat down in the examination room to cool off before they brought FBS back to me.
And passed out.
When I came to, I was laying on the cot and FBS was staring at me, about two inches away from my face and a look of desperation I don’t think I’ve seen since. Yup, my kid’s first time in emerg and it becomes about me. Let me know when the trophies are being handed out, cuz I’m MOTHER OF THE YEAR!
Then just last Wednesday I was greeted by my beloved sons coming through the door. Instead of their regular chorus, I was lifted from my seat by Second Born Son’s blood curdling scream. Sobs and snot later, and we find out that just before he opened the door, he wrenched his arm badly and it is sensitive to the touch. He finally calms enough to tell me how much pain he’s in, and that he heard a “pop”. I’m thinking dislocated shoulder. Hooo-ray.
We get to emerg and the one doctor I never want to see again is on call. He ignores me and tentatively pokes at SBS. He says it looks like muscle damage, possibly a ligament. If’ it’s not better in two days, get an ultrasound, he said. We get a sling, instructions to make sure he takes it off to keep the muscles in the arm moving, and a hasty exit.
But my Mommy Sense is tingling. I don’t like what he said.
The next morning, I call my GP and he gets us in Friday afternoon. The upper arm/shoulder area is almost doubled in size. He advises to go ahead with the ultrasound, but suggests we add an X-ray.
Today we get into the first booking we can for an ultrasound, and the technician starts with the X-ray. We don’t need an ultrasound, because the first image tells the tale.
“It’s broke,” she said. I check myself – not going to lose my load this time am I??
Not only is it broken, but we have a complication and have to see a specialist. As the doctor reading the x-ray goes over the various possibilities, I find myself having a completely different conversation – with myself. It is harsh and rather one-sided.
“He’s gone five days with a broken arm. What the HELL kind of mother ARE you?”
“Why did I listen to the idiot doctor about taking the arm out of the sling??”
“It’s been almost a week and the best we could do for him was Children’s Advil!!!”
“Dear God, It’s Sarah. Can you take the broken arm from him and give it to me? Totally serious here, God!! Just let me get him home safely and you can do the arm!”
As sappy as I thought it was that my parents reacted the way they did when I was young, I realize that I’m no
better worse. Looking at my child’s body when it is broken is easily one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. The fierce reaction I have to it, and the anger I direct at myself, is nothing short of primal. Your typical Momma Bear syndrome.
So it looks like I need to cut my parents some slack…
…and hope my kids do the same for me.