I listen to a lot of crying around here.
There are three little kids home with me every day, I’m bound to hear just about every cry we’ve got at least once. I’ve been doing this gig long enough to know when I need to bolt to a kid’s side, when to give it 30 seconds, and when to quietly escape to the basement and hide.
There’s the basic he-took-my-toy cry, the I’m-hungry/sleepy-so-I’m-going-to-bawl-about-nothing cry, and the someone’s-standing-in-front-of-the-television cry (this is usually followed closely by the someone-threw-something-at-my-head cry).
Then you’ve got your set of serious cries. The ouch-my-fingers-just-got-slammed-in-the-door cry, the whoops-I’m-bleeding-from-the-head cry, and the someone-sprayed-Windex-in-my-eye cry.
But there’s one cry I hear often enough to know that while it sounds bad, it’s nothing serious. It’s the Funny Bone cry. Sounds bad, means nothing.
I was talking on the phone the other morning when Rex (6) sounded off with the Funny Bone cry. I paused and waited for him to bring his electrified elbow over for my perusal. He bolted through my bedroom door screaming his head off. “My elbow! Argh!!!! Right here Mommy, it HURTS!” He wiggled his fingers, I checked his wrist, then looked at his right elbow.
“Oh sweetie, you just hit your funny bone.” I took his hand and gingerly bent his arm. He screamed. “See? It moves fine, it will feel better in a minute.” I sent him on his way and wrapped up my phone call.
Ten minutes later he was still crying.
“Mom!” he screamed as I walked by, “My arm, it hurts!!” Rex has hurt himself before and he tends to drag out the crying process. Still, I figured a little ibuprofen couldn’t hurt anything. I dosed him up and went back to my duties.
Ten minutes later he was still crying.
And that’s when the alarm bells went off in my head. I looked at him sitting in a chair, white as a sheet, and knew we were dealing with something far more serious than a funny bone.
I must confess, I was feeling particularly overwhelmed that morning. I had spent the morning with a headache, wishing I could take a day off from my house and chores. A trip to the hospital wasn’t exactly what I’d had in mind.
In my panicked state I almost dashed out of the house with two different shoes on and no baby. In a flurry of haste we dashed to the ER.
When I was five I broke my right elbow. Unfortunately the physician on duty was in a hurry to get home and did a shoddy job setting it. My seriously crooked arm is both unattractive and routinely dysfunctional. It kept me from being the highly successful athlete I’m sure the rest of me would have loved to be (it also made for a great scape goat). I’m convinced it’s due to the unattractiveness of my arm that I was never Miss America.
When I realized that Rex was heading the same direction I panicked. What if the doctor on call did a bad job and he could never play ball?
Fate was looking out for Rex. Not only did he avoid having a tw0-year resident set his arm, he ended up with five orthopedic surgeons in the operating room. It was a simple two-pin procedure but since most of the doctors at our hospital work primarily on wounded warriors, they’re all anxious to keep up on their pediatric experience. It was standing room only.
Our sweet friend and substitute family member, Caitlin, is a nurse. She was able to acompany Rex into surgery. “Annie,” she said afterward, “Three of those doctors are world class orthopedic surgeons. He couldn’t have been in better hands.”
Three hours later Rex sat propped up on pillows watching a Disney movie and eating Reese’s peanut butter cups. He looked over at me, cast up to his armpit, chocolate and morphine-induced grin on his face, and said, “Isn’t this a great day, Mom?”
I sat in the side chair, a book in my hands and no laundry pile in sight, and smiled back. “It sure is, buddy.”