Last weekend my son J.R. broke his arm in two places. He lost his footing climbing on the playground, and the result was deformity that looked like a lightning bolt jutting from his elbow down. Needless to say, I was FREAKING THE FUCK OUT. I can’t even explain the feeling. It was surreal and disturbing and if my husband weren’t with us I’d probably still be standing in the park, frozen.
Thank God that J.R.’s unusually high tolerance for pain matches my un-motherly low tolerance for his screams. However, once we reached the emergency room (and he got a good view of my sheet-white face), I think he realized that things were about to get REAL. At that moment J.R. jumped on a Crazy Train O’ Pain and not even Ozzy Osborne’s medicine cabinet would get him to jump the tracks.
J.R. rocked, moaned, and repeated (oh I am sorry, REPEATEDLY SCREAMED) nonsense phrases over and over. The only one I could make out was “HOLY SHIT HOLY SHIT HOLY SHIT HOLY SHIT HOLY SHIT HOLY SHIT HOLY SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITTTTTTTTTT!” He was scaring the other E.R. patients away. I am not even kidding. Thank goodness the nurses had a sense of humor. Either that or they figured hey, what’s three less patients?
Where did my brave, funny, accomplished J.R. go? He exited the instant his radius and ulna simultaneously snapped. And we’d have to wait FOUR hours before the doctor could set his arm? I couldn’t even go all Steel Magnolias on the hospital staff because J.R.’s morphine drip was clearly visible. My husband and I tried everything to try to get him to calm down from holding him close to holding our hands across his mouth. When our final autism-taming method didn’t work (bribery), we knew we were finished. Personally, I’d break my own legs for a trip to the Bahamas. Best case scenario, J.R. loses his voice.
The next six weeks of my life began flashing in front of me until I heard someone utter the word surgery. Unable to locate a clean floor to faint on, I cracked. Please. No. In a desperate act of self-preservation I yelled out “Anyone want Subway for lunch? I’m totally going there.” Gross, right? I had to get out of that room, and my husband certainly wasn’t beneath a sub-chips-cookie combo. It was the worst feeling in the world knowing that I couldn’t deal with seeing my child suffer- a version that many parents face day after day. It was not my finest moment.
It wasn’t until I drove toward Subway, shamed and shaking, that I realized how unhappy I would be if I were in J.R.’s (crooked) position. A cast? What? A whore-bath routine and no SUNbathing for six weeks? Cut and maim all of my Michael Stars tees? Oh hell no! No wonder he is so out of sorts, so I thought.
Praying that my son was not as vain as me (and that the sub maker would hustle; this line of double-meat lovers was creeping me out) I had an epiphany. J.R.’s through-the-roof anxiety had nothing to do with pain and everything to do with the waiting. Lying in a hospital bed without a Disney Fast Pass was not cutting the mustard.
After arriving back at the hospital to deliver my hubby his lunch, we didn’t have much longer to wait (mostly because I drove really slow). The orthopedic surgeon appeared and I think J.R. sensed that the worst was about to be over. A wave of peace (and jealousy) came over me as J.R.’s anesthesia took effect. As I stared into my baby’s drifting eyes, I couldn’t help thinking Dante missed the mark in creating his deepest circle of hell. The inability to calm a child in pain (real or imagined) is a place I wouldn’t wish my worst enemy visit. Finally, the doctor explained to me that I would probably want to head back to Subway rather than see or hear him put J.R.’s bones back into place. Before contemplating an answer I rushed out of the room, thankful he didn’t need surgery.
I assumed J.R. would wake up in a panic, but I was wrong. With the wait finally over, he was rested (can you imagine how exhausted you’d be, screaming your head off for five hours straight?) and happy. I reveled in the adorableness of:
How long did I sleep?
Where’s my pretty nurse?
Is grandpa going to be at home when I get there?
Is my arm bionic? Am I as good as new or better than new?
Here comes the point in my blog where I normally reveal the silver lining of my adventures in autism. This entry? No. Can. Do. And I know you’ve been waiting for it, sorry. Fast forward one week and I am a mess. J.R. handled his splint well at first, but his patience quota has been met once again. Can you blame him? He flails around, frustrated beyond words (but not beyond screams) and it is scaring me. Without a permanent cast (yet), the chance of J.R. making his injury worse is pretty good. Then what?
I am experiencing the most challenging week I’ve had in years, and I have been crying a lot. My heart is broken in more places than J.R.’s bones. What next? I guess we’ll ALL have to … wait.