Saturday, January 24, 2009


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?"

I nod.

"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.


DutchMac said...

Knock on wood, I have yet to experience that nightmare as a Mom. With a nearly-fearless boy, though, I have no doubt my days of laying claim to that, however, are well and truly numbered.

I HAVE experienced this as a wife, though. Big Chief took a massive knock in the face while water skiing (technically, while 'no longer water skiing' as he'd taken a massive tumble OFF his skiis) and had to get the gash closed with stitches. He was the one getting sewn back together, but I was the one who had to walk out into the hallway because the room was turning all black, fuzzy, and sparkly.

And yes, I also watch ER, Emergency Vets, and any other assorted shows with Ick Factor. Doesn't count for JACK when it's right in front of you, does it?

Glad to hear Junior's ok. Go get yourself a great big glass (ahem, BOTTLE) of wine to celebrate.

The Fat Girl said...

Yeah, glad to hear he is ok. Poor guy.

Stacey said...

Holy cow. I'm not sure what I would have done, but I'm positive that I wouldn't have been able to handle that as well as you did. I hope his hand is well and he can play ball.

And please go thunk that substitute nurse on the forehead. She deserves it.

Mom Taxi Julie said...

Oh barf! The things we have to go through!!

Gladys said...

Yeah it's always tough when your kid is hurt. Now you want to talk about watching your baby have a baby screaming and writhing in pain? Yeah that's a story for a different day. :)

chandy said...

Oh, poor guy! And poor mommy too! He'll probably be excited to have a cool story to tell the guys at school though... First Gonzo and then a major injury? That's a pretty awesome week!

I agree with the suggestion to medicate with wine. It does a body good.

(And thank you for your sweet comment on my blog...that definitely put a big smile on my face!)

Practically Joe said...

Maybe you need add a little Jerry Springer and Nip'Tuck to toughen you up.

for a different kind of girl said...

I had a total "mom reaction" while reading this! A few years ago, a dog bit my oldest son on the thigh, and it was nasty, but not 'overly tramatic,' according to the doctor, and because of that, he said, "Oh, we won't even have to numb that up. We'll just stitch it without numbing it." I looked at him all, "Um, maybe numb me up so I don't have to see my baby in pain while you're sewing him!" The doctor had me deadlock eyes with my son and talk to him the whole time, and that little boy never even flinched, but I gripped his hand so tight he complained about that!

Little boys are certainly troopers, aren't they?!

Trisha said...

You did good! It is always different watching that stuff happen to someone you know and love, isn't it? Glad to hear that Junior's break is looking good.

DevilsHeaven said...

I have yet to experience the mom aspect of this, but so far, when someone else gets hurt I get all robotic and emotionless, which I guess is good.

Bogart in P Towne said...

I broke all 10 fingers, some of them twice...

I don't know how my mom did it...I do know that as I have gotten older, her tolerence has gotten lower. She has not taken to me running because she is so worried about injury...even going to tears one day about her worrying about my back.