I've been in emergency rooms where you look like you're dying and they still make you sit in the waiting room for three hours. The emergency room I took Joel to was busy, but they responded immediately to his tears and obvious injury. A nurse examined him in the waiting room and declared that his bone was obviously displaced. They put an icepack on him and triaged him right away. The receptionist called back and said she was bumping a kid up in line because of a displaced bone. I knew most of the time they called broken bones fractures or cracked. I had to ask.
"Displaced bone. That's broken, right?"
Joel had already said he thought his arm was broken, so I knew I wouldn't scare him talking about it with the nurse.
"No, displaced means it's pushed out of place. He may need surgery to fix it."
Okay, I hadn't discussed surgery with Joel. Thanks a lot. His eyes widened in panic and his tears flowed a little more freely. Still he didn't say anything until they settled us back in a curtained alcove. I rubbed his head and stroked his cheek, all the while keeping up a stream of nonsense chatter to distract him, but when I paused for breath he asked, "Do I have to have surgery?"
"We don't know," I answered. "Maybe all they'll have to do is put a cast on. We'll have to wait and see."
"Will it hurt?"
I couldn't take the fear in his eyes. I assured him that, if he had to have surgery, they would put him to sleep first and I would be with him the whole time. I looked for ways to comfort him. "Do you want me to pray?"
He shrugged. "I already did."
"Really? What did you pray?"
"That it wouldn't hurt when they fix it."
Short, simple faith. I loved it. A few moments later he spoke again.
"I wish Adam and Eve never sinned. I hate pain." My heart swelled with his simple grasp of the truths of the Bible. I believe the Bible with all my heart, but listening to his complete trust and acceptance of its truth blew me away.
I decided it was time to distract him, so I sang a nonsensical little song that the kids heard on the DVD, Open Season. I will not repeat the lyrics here, but the song involved a magical elf and a flatulent dwarf. 'Nuff said. It cracked Joel up because I kept getting the lyrics wrong, and he threw himself into correcting me. Then we sat and talked quietly, but every once in a while he'd look at me and say, "I'm in pain" in a singsong voice. That was his cue that he wanted to hear the song again. I now know the song very well and it gets stuck in my head frequently.
I was impressed with the hospital because they took x-rays almost immediately and gave him something for the pain. My opinion went down a few notches when we sat there for another two hours before we saw the doctor. Joel wasn't in as much pain, but he was restless and it's hard to keep him occupied on his best days. He has a clear, carrying voice, and a tendency to chatter nonstop. He watched as an attendant wheeled an elderly lady down the hall in a bed before turning to me and asking loudly, "Is she dead?" He also commented on the number of muslims based on some women we saw nearby wearing bursas. I started singing the song again, hoping to keep him quiet.
When the doctor showed up (after finishing his dinner, no doubt) he confirmed that Joel had broken both wrists. The left one was cracked and should heal nicely in less than six weeks. In fact, the doctor said if Joel was a quiet child used to sitting still, he could probably just put a removeable brace on it. I laughed and asked for the cast.
The right wrist was broken, but also displaced.
"Do I have to have surgery?" Joel spoke up.
"No," the doctor answered. "But we do have to push the bone back into place. Do you want an IV or do you want us to just do it?"
What a question to ask a ten-year-old! Or his mother!