(You can read the first part here.)
The ER is no place for a child, with it’s loudness, bright overhead lights, hurried big people in scrubs that signified shots and ”ahhh’s” and breaths that smelled like stale coffee. Peculiar devices hung from the walls, especially those things that squeezed your arm so tight that you lost the feeling in your fingers, all looked painful.
There was yelling, moans, and talks of blood and the sickies that they’ve never heard of aside from diarrhea and puke and green boogers that make their mom’s stomach turn.
Then there were the unidentifiable smells.
Yes, the ER is no place for a child.
An old man with an untied hospital gown, paced the floor in front of us.
“I can see his underwear Momma,” he whispered, “Why is his back so hairy?”
I covered his lips with one finger while giggling and adjusted his legs over mine. I saw his bad foot sickly dangling as if there were no muscles attaching it to his body. It was all too surreal.
There was an impatient man sitting in a chair close by. He reeked of many years of cigarette smoking and I could feel the tension in every muscle of his clenched jaw and bawled up fists. A nurse scurried by, and he perked up in his chair, sighed and then swore that he had been waiting there for two hours for a “fucking x-ray result.”
I turned on my cell phone and counted 2 hours ahead.
There was no way we’d make it back to school on time.
We kept ourselves busy by watching the slideshow of exotic animals on a nurse’s computer screen. He would guess their names and if they ate people and poop. Every once in a while the music of a sweet lullaby would dance through the ER signifying another born baby.
A grossed out Chunky counted four of them.
It was 2pm when the NP approached us.
A growth plate fracture and possible ligament tear.
Two more doctors came in to assess his foot and all said the same thing.
8 weeks in a cast.
His whole summer.
The NP started to fashion a splint that ran up to Chunky’s knee. “You’re pretty brave man. Not a single tear.”
“I have to get to school for Mrs. Kelly’s popcorn.”
“Well I better hurry it up then.”
He wound up at least 4 tensor bandages and an entire roll of surgical tape around Chunky’s chicken leg because “I have a four year old too and nothing slows them down”.
I quickly signed the discharge papers and a wonderful nurse got us a wheelchair and stayed with him at the door while I pulled up the car. She picked him up for me and said, “Now you tell your Mom to haul some bootie to get that popcorn.”
Chunky fell asleep by the time I got to the school. I struggled trying to keep on his one flip flop as I carried him across the parking lot. I could feel him slipping through my arms when the secretary came out with a skewer of fruit wedged in the corners of her mouth.
“Putsch him in my errms.”
The principle met us with a swivel chair and we wheeled him into his class.
Let me tell you, I’ve never seen and felt so much love and happiness in one room.
His classmates pushed him to a table where a big bag of popcorn and three chocolate cupcakes were waiting. He turned towards me and smiled then dug his hands in the very bag he’d been talking about all day.
I looked at his teacher and could barely get the words “thank you” out.
His friends danced and snuck him cake and more candy than his stomach could handle.
“How’s your back sweetheart?” Mrs. Kelly asked putting her arm over my shoulder.
“I don’t care. That puffed up heart was worth it.”
The following day we met with Chunky’s new surgeon (a different one that was consulted for his broken arm…yes, three weeks ago he broke it). He carefully cut away the plaster splint and asked him to stand to measure his leg. When Chunky did, he put a little weight on his foot.
The surgeon’s mouth dropped.
He grabbed his chart and asked, “This is Alexander isn’t it?”
“That’s his middle name.”
“Well I’ll be damned. Can you try to take a step?”
Chunky looked at me with great reservation and I nodded at him to give it a try.
And he did.
“This is very odd. I’ll tell you what. How about we treat this as a sprain for now. But you have to be good to your foot. Deal? Unbelievable. Really. Wow. Are you ok with that Mom?”
“This is so odd. The ER doc I consulted with said it was bad but this is not what I expected.”
He closed his chart and handed to the nurse who wrapped his foot up again.
And just like the day before, the wonderful nurses and volunteers carried and helped him to the car so I didn’t have to pick him up.
(the staff was amazing)
As of today, Chunky looks like this…
Bones of steel.
Or as he calls them…
“Bones like Uncle Chuck Norris.”