I always describe writing this blog as a cheap form of therapy so I’m rattling one out today as a cathartic way of soothing my guilt ridden mind!
Yesterday was not one of our best. All was great up until picking the kids up from school and heading to the pet shop. We paid for our enormous bag of dog food but Ted then decided to have a melt down in the middle of Pets at Home because I wouldn’t buy him a dog chew! He threw himself on the floor and developed the rigidity of concrete… I bent down to talk to him, calmed him down and thought we’d put the whole sorry affair behind us. He however was apparently not yet over it! Holding my hand, he started to stand up as I did, but then, remembering his torrid rage, he threw himself back on the floor; basically creating a tug of war rope with his arm. I felt something pop or click in his beautiful, chubby, little arm. He screamed and cried briefly and then seemed to settle down in the car- I couldn’t entirely work out whether he was in pain or was still angry about the dog chew! Ten minutes later however, it was clear that his arm was hanging limp at the side of him and although he was quite happy in himself, he winced or cried if he moved it or if I attempted to.
An hour later we found ourselves at the children’s hospital for the fourth time in 6 days. (Twice last weekend with Esme and terrible stomach pains which had me googling ‘appendicitis’ at 3 in the morning and a routine appointment for Ted in his ongoing digestion investigations.) The incredibly overworked nurse with a Friday teatime queue backing out the door was so kind and patient with me as I sobbed my way through an explanation of how I had basically managed to, albeit accidentally, wrench my child’s arm until it popped! She could see how unhappy he was and fast tracked us through to see a doctor who could give him some drugs!
Ten minutes later, to eternally cement the day from hell in my memory, the doctor attempted a simple procedure to click the ligaments around his elbow back into place. Apparently he was suffering a case of ‘pulled elbow’ which is very common and involves a partial dislocation of the lower arm. She warned me he would scream but that it would bring instant relief and he’d be back to normal in no time at all. Oh did he scream! He screamed the first time she did it, and the second and by the ninth his entire little body was rigid and fighting me and red hot with rage. Not only was I, his momma, the person who was supposed to be taking care of him, responsible for causing the injury in the first place, I was now holding him down while this stranger aggravated it even more! He clearly felt betrayed!! Turns out 9 times is a charm and I’ve never been happier to see one of my children bend and pull back their arm to give the doctor who was treating them a good solid whack! It had clicked back and within less than 5 minutes he was off my knee, rearranging furniture in the A&E department and generally flirting with the ladies! Instant relief for him, not so much for me!
I know that statistically accidents happen. I also know that we are pretty bloody lucky to have 3 happy and healthy children who have never had a serious medical emergency or condition. We have however had our (and a few other peoples) fair share of trips to the hospital for bumps and scrapes! My friend jokes that we should have our own parking space at the hospital and a plaque on a chair in the waiting room. Esme once ran full pelt into the arm of the sofa and gave herself an epic lump and bruise on her cheek. George once managed, in one single action, to knock a glass off the table and fall off his chair into the subsequent pile of broken shards and gash his leg open (bonus points to him for doing it in St Lucia and costing us $450 for 3 stitches!) The boys in particular seem to have spent most of their toddling lives with various bruises on their foreheads or with knees covered in scuffs and scrapes.
I know that any one of us could have been holding his hand when he decided to pull violently in a different direction. I know I couldn’t have done anything particularly differently to have prevented it from happening. I know that never, in a million billion trillion years would I ever do anything to hurt my children deliberately. But man alive did I and do I still feel terrible. Even my four year old said to me in the car on the way to the hospital ‘Mummy it was your fault, but you didn’t mean to do it… it was just an accident!’ That just made me cry more! All these platitudes cannot stop my from hearing the clicking of his little bones or replaying the look on his face each time he moved his chunky little arm.
I’ve never been a bubble wrap parent. I don’t want to remove all forms of risk from their lives and keep them in a sterile and germ free environment, I’m all for rolling down hills and mucky hands and pushing the boundaries a bit. I want them to learn how to manage those risks and how to keep themselves safe. But whenever we get a bump or a cut or a semi severed arm (see how dramatic it’s making me!) it makes me question whether I’m too liberal with my safety concerns! I could wallpaper a room with bump notes from school- I told George’s teacher the other day to save herself time and to only come out to tell me on the days he HADN’t injured himself! Why the hell are our children so incapable of staying on their feet and keeping away from impacting with inanimate objects at speed!?
Ted is absolutely fine and was jumping on our bed within a minute of getting home last night (see- ALL ABOUT THE DANGER!!) It does make me incredibly grateful for our wonderful health care system and all who work within it! Regardless of your political leanings, we all need to do all we can in this life to make sure that the NHS stays something which is accessible for all. Our NHS staff go far beyond their wages; it was not their job yesterday to comfort me as I sat sobbing with guilt or to sit and draw with Ted while they worked out if he was fixed or to give him a torch to play with to take his mind off his poorly arm. They are national treasures and we need to fight with every ounce of our being to make sure that it is a service that’s available to everyone and that wonderful staff like the ones I’ve seen this week don’t get completely disillusioned with the constant stream of cuts, criticism and abuse and walk away.
So, I’m attempting to listen to those around me who tell me that it could have happened to anyone, I’m holding off on wrapping them in bubble wrap and cotton wool and I’m slowly but surely comfort eating my way through an entire bar of dairy milk to feed the guilt! I’m holding off on the public flogging and hair shirt though- I’ll save those for the next time!