Four weeks ago, my ten-year-old broke his radius and ulna—snapped ’em like twigs, as my husband likes to say. He’s fresh out of his long, heavy, burdensome plaster cast and into a shorter, below-the-elbow fiberglass one. In two weeks, he’ll be in a brace. As we’ve journeyed through this first broken bone experience, I’ve been reminded of things—some life lessons, some mom lessons. And I’ve also gleaned some new ones, too.
1. Don’t ask if you don’t want to know. As we waited at Urgent Care the night he broke his arm, I immediately made up my mind that I wouldn’t get overly caught up in doctor’s timelines. Four to six weeks, six to eight weeks, yada yada. “I am just gonna trust God for Rassy’s healing,” I said to myself. The next day, after he got out of surgery to manipulate the bones back into place—feeling hungry and exhausted—I blurted out, “So baseball….about how long?” “Oh, months!” the surgeon declared dramatically. It wasn’t what I wanted to hear. So much for trusting in the healing process. I wanted to kick myself. I remember a fine man once saying “Doctors have the diagnosis, but God has the prognosis.” And He’s got Rassy’s healing under control—including the timing of it. I try to remind myself of that often. To my credit, since that day, I have not Googled “Colles’ fracture,” “plaster vs. fiberglass casts,” “broken bone healing times” or anything of the sort. Maybe I am learning to trust in the healing process. A little.
2. Mental health counts, too. I am a rule follower. When a doctor tells me not to do anything, I don’t do anything. In fact, I’d like to think I would welcome an opportunity to do nothing. To just sit on the couch with a book. Or watch a Lifetime movie on t.v. Or stare blankly at the ceiling. But doing nothing is an entirely different story for a ten-year-old boy. I’ve come to learn that it’s nearly impossible. A couple days after he broke his arm, I suggested to Rassy that he just walk around the cul-de-sac slowly for some fresh air, to burn off some steam. He obliged—grabbing a basketball to dribble along the way. Eleven days in, he started throwing a baseball with his good arm. I realize that he would be like a caged animal if he did absolutely nothing. So I’ve learned a bit about balance, and that his mental outlook and spirit are just as important as his physical health, too.
3. Boys will be boys. As we were wrapping up his appointment two weeks ago, and saw that the X-rays were looking good, Rass chatted with the doctor. He suddenly felt the need to reveal his goings-on at school the day before. “I stuck a bead down my cast. Down by the thumb.” I felt my face fall, contort even, and perhaps turn a weird color. I may have attempted a smile. The doctor slowly rolled over to him on her stool. Rass then went on to add “I tried to get it out with a pencil, but it didn’t work.” Full-on embarrassment set in. I felt like my head would pop off. She gently reminded him that you never stick anything down your cast. Ever. What if the pencil had broken off? What if the bead caused a pressure sore? It never would’ve occurred to me to tell him not to do something like that. Who would stick anything down their cast anyways? Not a rule follower. I guess a fourth grade boy, looking for a few laughs.
4. Don’t underestimate the power of the one-armed bandit. He can still play a mean game of foosball. He’s doing his writing assignments with his right hand (not his favored one). He can zing a baseball into my mitt, causing my hand to sting. He’s doing a bit of strength and conditioning and running. He maintains an upbeat, positive attitude. But when the time comes at practice and he says “Can we go now?” I have to remember that simply watching from the bench, without being able to play the game, can also be trying to a ten-year-old who just wants to be out on the field. Instead of insisting that he stick it out to the end, I say “Sure,” and we head home a little early. Healing comes in many forms, and I know that he also probably needs some on the inside, too, as he misses playing the game he loves so much.
5. Ten-year-old boys leave a weird, grimy film on a bathtub. To which my sister can attest. I can see why they graduate to showers. And I look forward to the return of them in two short weeks.