My younger son loves books and the outdoors and tomatoes on his sandwiches. Sometimes he’s very emotionally driven. He likes to ride his bike. We have those things in common, he and I. Last weekend, we came to have something else in common: a childhood broken arm.
I broke my arm, my left one, at age 3. In Sunday school, near the end of class, I climbed up in one of those tiny chairs and then jumped out. I actually remember thinking during the jump that this was not such a good idea after all. So I put out my arm to catch myself–and broke it. My teacher, Mrs. Diane, picked me up and comforted me; I felt as though somebody had tried to yank my arm off my body. This is my earliest memory.
The arm stayed that way, in its unrecognized broken condition, for several days. Finally, one of the workers at my daycare told my mama that I didn’t play outside that day and instead just sat under a tree and held my arm. To the doctor we went. I got a cast, and it covered my entire arm down to my fingers. I sucked my thumb then–and only my LEFT thumb–and the cast covered most of it. I found enough of a nub at the end of that thumb to satisfy me, though.
I wore my cast for 6 weeks and then had it sawed off. I still remember how it felt when my arm got liberated from that cast–such freedom! My arm temporarily flung itself around the room as if it had a mind of its own once the cast got removed.
Now my little boy has his own cast. He fell off a piece of playground equipment in the park near our home, and the space around his elbow began to swell immediately. After a visit to an after-hours clinic, a splint, and a sling that I could barely keep on his body, we visited a pediatric orthopedic–and got this cast.
His cast, though, is on his right arm: the one he uses to write and to feed himself and to brush his teeth. He needs more help with actions that he could do with independence just a couple weeks ago. Remember how I mentioned he can be emotionally driven? Take some independence away from an almost-seven-year-old; that will surface some fairly strong emotions. Honestly, he is in great spirits most of the time, gamely spooning up soup and forking up pasta with his left hand–even drawing a volcano with his left hand during our science study this past week.
But LEGO playtime? That has held some frustrations, those little bitty pieces that demand dexterity in order to master them. And getting dressed? We now have to choose clothes based on what goes over his cast–and he needs assistance getting his clothes both off and on. And the itchiness…I AM thankful that he is not missing out on swimming and that the weather is far less humid than if this had happened a few months ago. But the itchiness sends him into paroxysms sometimes. He had me stick my finger down in the top of the cast to scratch an itch yesterday. I discovered a teeny, sharp crumb of tortilla chip down there. Extracting that helped with the itching, at least for a couple of hours. And at least I can sympathize with the itchiness, even though I know I can’t stick a straightened-out coat hanger down the cast to scratch his itchy skin the way my mama did with me almost 40 years ago.
Just two more weeks to go–only 3 weeks total for him to wear his, half the time I was saddled with mine. He’s had to persevere, and so have I (not just with my own cast, but with his, too), and the whole thing has certainly created more work in both our lives. But I hope this helps him to remember that I’ll be there for him in whatever he needs.
Today at the library we found this book, I Broke My Arm. We read it tonight, just the two of us.
Not much longer and he will have his camouflage cast (I didn’t even know how to SPELL “camouflage” until I had boys.) off his arm. He prays that it will be “very stinky” when it gets removed, so that he can torture his older brother with it. Until then, I will keep blowing the hair dryer on the cool setting at his cast to take away the itches and helping him dress and undress and other things, too…remembering that this whole experience gives us more life stories to share.