I'm lucky enough to never have had to actually run into the Accident and Emergency department. All of our visits have been paid at the speed of a brisk walk, and on the scale starting with quite high temperature down to needing stitches but not more than two and ending with aches that don't go away and need an x-ray but transpire to be nothing serious. All visits that can be categorised under "Nothing to see here."
So anyway, last week my eleven and nine year old's trooped into the kitchen at four o clock, having been picked from school in the car by their dad. They put their school bags down at my feet (for me to...put away? Do their homework? Scrape out uneaten sandwiches?), kicked off their shoes nowhere near our pointless but quite pinteresty shoe shelves and dropped their coats. God, just typing that makes me cross. How many times do I have to tell them we have hooks for coats? Ten million, I suppose. And then they will leave home and tears will drip down my haggard, wrinkly face because I will be an old lady with nothing to pick up.
One of them then told me that his older brother had been hurt at his rugby match. I frowned. He was still in the car? Gone up to bed? Why had he not come in and dropped all his stuff on the floor?
He was in the hall having his muddy rugby boots and socks and jersey carefully peeled off, and was shaking and very white. Apparently he was tackled (you can only be tackled if you have the ball - he had the ball!) and his shoulder hurt. A lot. We put him into the shower and he stood and let the water flow over his muddy legs, (I think, as the bits of leg I could see afterwards sticking out of his pyjama bottoms were certainly still muddy when he got out.) He was still shaking though so I filled three hot water bottles and tucked them around him and we put a bag of frozen peas on his shoulder. Well, his dad did. I wanted to put a hot water bottle there too. So we bickered for a while beside his bed and he lay there looking pale.
To cut a long story short, or at least abbreviate it a bit, the next morning I took him to the Accident and Emergency Department of our nearest children's hospital and got in the queue. A miraculous fifteen minutes later we were through triage and with an actual doctor. I was delighted. Then he said it was probably a fractured clavicle, which took me a minute or two to figure out meant broken collarbone. So not that delighted.
We headed up to x-ray to get this confirmed and sat beside other mothers like myself with kids in their early teens tapping away at their phones. Mothers looking made up and suited and booted and kids looking royally pissed off. All holding iphone 6's, so one wonders why really, but I suppose there might have been some pain involved. (Why had I not put on any make up? Well, because I sort of feel that it will look to the doctors and nurses as if I have been preening at home in front of the mirror while my son suffered.I wished I had though. When I think about it, they are wearing makeup, and I don't picture them applying their liquid eyeliner while sick children wait beside them for their medicine.)
Quite a while later we were heading back downstairs to the first doc to sit in the first waiting room so he could confirm what he had suspected, where we met one of the booted mums with her teen. (Also, funnily enough, there was another mum there who had been waiting quite a while. I knew this not because she told me but because whenever the tannoy thingy said "So and so to triage please.", she mimicked it in an squeaky, pretty mental and very bitter way "So and so to triage please." I mean, I've done it myself, but always, always just said it in my head.)
But back to the boots. Her son was in a wheelchair this time so his x ray must have been positive too. I say positive because this time the Mum was beaming and he was on the phone to who I assume was the dad, giving details of the break in his leg. And them immediately ringing someone else to say the same thing. I was just thinking, good Lord, don't look so pleased with yourselves when I thought, why that's exactly how I felt when I heard the word fracture. For starters, I thought, for once I haven't queued here for nothing and we have an actual name for our ailment (rather than pulled muscle or "viral" which sounds so...nothing.). Still though, how daft were we? Broken bones are painful and take ages to get better.
I did at least get some comfort from the thought that she was as big an eejit as I was. And off we went home with our patients, to the reality of the healing process.
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