It’s been very therapeutic traveling down the memory lane of my childhood, but there is a story about my own children, one in particular, that I feel compelled to get down on virtual paper. I’ve told it many times, and I still can’t believe it really happened.
It was a cold, late winter/early spring Sunday afternoon. If I remember the timeline correctly, Jim had just turned 8 and Hannah was 6. It had to have been just before we moved to Bloomington, because we had planned a trip to Disney World after relocating, and were concerned that “the incident” would put a damper on our vacation.
Jim came down with a sore throat that day. With all the winter illnesses playing out their grand finale of the season, I thought he should see a doctor. I really didn’t want to wait till Monday morning when pediatrician offices are inundated with childhood weekend misery. While Jim and I got ready to go to the prompt care facility, Hannah announced that she wanted to come with us. John tried to persuade her to stay home with him, but she was determined. I bundled them both up and away we went.
I was surprised at the lack of patients waiting to see the doctor at the urgent care connected to our pediatrician’s office. We only waited a few minutes before they called us back to a room. Jim climbed up on the exam table. While my back was turned, Hannah climbed up onto the doctor’s swivel stool. Before I knew it, she spun off the chair, hit the wall, and tumbled to the floor. I tried to console her, but she was really shaken. The crying echoed through the halls.
Note: If you ever get tired of waiting for a doctor, have a little girl scream at the top of her lungs in the exam room. That speeds things up a bit.
After taking a quick look at Jim’s throat and swabbing it to test for strep, the doctor offered to x-ray Hannah’s arm. I thanked him, but said it wasn’t necessary. Then we were told to go back to the waiting room while they tested Jim’s throat cultures. Jim was engrossed in a book, so to distract her, I played London Bridge with Hannah. We lifted our arms to make a bridge, and I will never forget the sudden look of fear and pain on that child’s face. It was like a lightning bolt going through my maternal soul.
When they called us back into an exam room to tell us that Jim in fact did not have strep, I took the doctor up on his offer.
When she swiveled off the chair, her shoulder landed on a heating vent that ran along the baseboard of the room. The left side of her collarbone suffered what they call a ‘green stick’ break. If you’ve never seen one in an x-ray, it’s a very accurate description. The bone was partially bent, partially broken, just as if you were trying to break a new twig.
My daughter broke a bone in the doctor’s office.
She had to wear a soft, padded butterfly brace for the next 2 months, to hold her shoulders back and in place. She would not be able to go on the more intense rides at Disney World, but she didn’t want to go on them anyway. One of the smartest things I ever did was request a second brace – with some limits, she could still go swimming, and wear one brace while the other dried. She wore the brace without much protest and we had a great vacation.
A good friend took her kids to the same office, and when her son started to climb up on the stool, he was warned to steer clear – “A little girl fell off of one of those recently and hurt herself!” We never saw a bill for the x-ray, brace, or anything connected to Hannah’s injury. It didn’t occur to me until weeks later that the office was scared to death we would sue them for what happened. Hannah made quite the impact.
A few years later, she was turning cartwheels in the front lawn, fell, and broke her collarbone again. And we did get the bills for that one.