The school secretary sounded serious. “Your daughter is ok, but I think she needs to be seen by a doctor,” she told me. She’d slipped in the mud playing football and her arm hurt.
In the office, the principal and I asked her to wiggle her fingers, and how much it hurt. It didn’t seem to hurt that much. When my son broke a bone in his hand we absolutely knew something was wrong. This didn’t seem like that. “I think she needs to be seen,” our secretary said. There was authority, and experience, in her voice.
We were 90% packed for a camping trip that was to start in just a few hours, so the timing wasn’t super convenient. The advice nurse reflected my skepticism: without a lot of pain or swelling, we could come in, or we could wait. I got the appointment, privately kicking myself for being too cautious. But. Well. Ugh. I hate indecision.
The doctor likewise didn’t seem alarmed. We went back and forth about whether to x-ray. “Who’s the boss in the family?” he asked my daughter. “Will I be in trouble if I send you home without a just-in-case x-ray?” My daughter wisely stayed out of family politics, but even though she didn’t have much pain, something about the way she was protective of her arm made the doctor send us for a picture. “Right after it’s taken you can jump in the car and head out camping,” he told us. Again, I felt like a cautious, worrying fool.
I gasped when I saw the first image, the obvious break. “What it is?” my daughter called from the other room. “This is why I prefer not to have family in here,” grumbled the tech. I told her we were supposed to get the x-ray just in case and head out. “I can’t read x-rays,” she told me, “but I wouldn’t head out just yet.”
Two hours later, cast set, no-sports-for-a-month, we headed out camping. It seemed worse to go home and unpack, defeated, than to arrive late and give it a try. We had a cabin (glamping!) so there wouldn’t be in-the-dark fumbling to set up a tent.
The weekend was a blur. In his beautiful book ‘Autumn,’ Karl Ove Knausgaard talks about how life seems simple for other families, but that for he and his wife every night dinner comes as a surprise, an unseen emergency to feed the children. I’ve often felt that way as mealtime approaches, even with everything planned, and I guess I was in shock or on autopilot, but the children ate, they slept, they ran around with sticks. They played with the pet pig the loud but friendly nextdoor campers had with them. (Are you allowed to bring a pet pig camping? Really?)
Back at school on Monday I brought my thanks to the secretary for her words of wisdom. “You know in all the years I’ve known her, I’ve never heard your daughter say ow,” she told me. “But on Friday, twice. I knew it was serious.”
Can someone tell me how the miracle school secretary knows my daughter has a high threshold for pain and I’d not noticed? Thankfully she did. Hopefully, most of the big stuff won’t escape me this obviously, or someone will help me catch it.
It’s four weeks gone by. The cast cover shower and swimming drama, the itches and frustrations will be cut off Monday. Hopefully a new x-ray will show all mended, in that miracle of the young and their growing, healing, healthy bones. Something to be thankful for.