On Wednesday afternoon while I was at work, my phone began vibrating on my desk. Normally I ignore it when I am working, but this time I recognized the number and since I didn't have a client in front of me, I answered.
"Hi Mrs. Uberman, it's the substitute nurse at your kids' school. I'm calling about Junior."
Junior has asthma, so I get these calls occasionally. Just the nurse letting me know he came in for a breathing treatment or to use his inhaler or whatever. But this time I sensed in her voice this was different.
"He fell on the playground and is complaining about his hand. He has been crying since he came in. I gave him some ice for it, but he seems to be in a lot of pain. What would you like me to do?"
Now is it just me, or is that a really stupid question? She's the nurse. The one with the degree and all. Isn't she supposed to be telling me what to do?? She hasn't told me anything about the injury, other than she gave him ice and he's in pain.
"What's wrong with his hand? What happened?" I ask.
"I'm not really sure," she says. "It's a little red, maybe a little swollen."
"Do I need to come get him?"
"I'm not really sure. I am just the substitute so I don't know these kids. I don't know if he's really hurt or if he tends to overreact about stuff. I am not sure."
"Can I talk to him?" I'm taking deep breaths and counting to ten at this point.
My son gets on the phone, and I hear in his voice he is not okay. He is in pain. Something is wrong. Most eleven year old boys do not cry openly in front of their peers unless a significant amount of pain is involved. This kid has been plunked in the hand with a baseball during little league games and blamed the sun for the moisture in his eyes.
I hung up and called Uberman. And this is where I really struggle with the guilt of being a working mom. I could not leave work at that time because we didn't have enough people to cover. Luckily Uberman was able to go get him and take him to urgent care.
The diagnosis - broken ring finger on his left hand. My son's response? Will it heal in time for baseball? The season starts in about a month. The doctor at urgent care was not so sure. You see, this is my overachiever. When he does something, he does it to the best of his ability. Including a broken finger. He broke it at the base of the finger, right above the knuckle on his hand. The doctor was concerned about the growth plate and referred us to an orthopedic specialist.
I took him yesterday. And during the appointment there were several times I felt that I needed medical treatment. First, when the doctor looked at his x-rays he said "Well that's not good. Nope. Not at all." Not very reassuring. The bone was far too crooked. Which meant . . . you guessed it. It had to be straightened.
Oh, here's where it gets good. He gave Junior a shot in his finger with the biggest needle I have ever seen. Keep in mind, I have given birth to three children, mmmkay? Now we all know, I am one of the last people on the planet still watching ER. And I watch Greys and Private Practice. The medical stuff doesn't bother me that much. But when it's your own kid. And it's real and not that fake TV stuff. Good Lord, I'm feeling a little woozy just thinking about it.
So Dr. Bone Guy is digging around in my baby's hand (which is already swollen and black and blue on both sides) with this ginormous needle, getting it all numbed up for the main event. I am sitting next to Junior, holding his other hand, totally using the breathing techniques from my Lamaze class eleven years ago. And Junior is watching this whole thing. Fascinated by this needle shoved in his hand and the doctor moving it around his knuckle and shoving it in deeper. I think the kid was holding my hand to comfort me and not the other way around. "Mom, you okay?" he kept asking.
When the doctor removed the needle, there was a tiny little spot of blood that appeared where the needle had punctured the skin. A tiny spot. So small you would have thought it was a speck of dirt. And that's when the kid freaked out. "I'm bleeding!!!" Dr. Bones, wiped it away and started asking Junior about his hobbies and who his favorite baseball team is. And while they are talking about cars and the Yankees and how Junior met Luis Gonzales last week at the Barrett Jackson auction, Dr. Bones starts pulling on the broken, crooked finger.
Now Junior is pretty numbed up and oblivious, so into sharing his story about meeting Gonzo that he doesn't even hear the popping and cracking sounds his finger is making. But mommy heard it. And mommy wanted to vomit.
"You okay mom?" Dr. Bones asks.
"Oh, I'm fine. I can handle this. I watch ER." I tell him.
He smiles at me. "You look a little pale."
"That's my natural color," I say, trying to be all cool. "I don't like to damage my skin with the sun's harmful UV rays. Plus I'm wearing a darker lipstick than normal, that can make the skin look lighter."
"Uh-huh." He says. "Okay Junior, let's take some more x-rays and see if we got it back in place." He turns to me, "Mom, you want to stay here and uh . . . take a moment?"
"Okay," he continues. "If the bone is back in place, that's good. If not, we need to talk surgery."
Breathe in. Breathe out. Blink. Breathe in. Breathe out. Blink.
"What the heck, Junior?? You can't just break your finger normally?? You have to break it so good you might need surgery??" I say to him.
The good news is, the x-rays looked great. I have to take him back in seven days to make sure the bone hasn't moved. As long as it stays in place, no surgery. No surgery means Junior can still play baseball this spring, he can resume riding his motorized scooter, he can continue kicking his dad's butt on Guitar Hero and Rock Band, and I can stop hyperventilating.
This mom thing is not for the weak at heart.