Ed note: The following story is somewhat edited / abbreviated lest this post be reeeeeeally long and drag in a bunch of stuff that needn’t be dragged in. You’re welcome.
I pick up the phone on my desk at work. It’s Katie. She is crying.
“Mama, it’s me. I’m at the pool with E and I jumped in and I hurt my foot and I really need you to come get me.”
I can hear her discomfort through the phone. Less the pain than the “This situation sucks and I don’t really know the grown-ups here very well and I really want my mom.”
I ask if she thinks it’s serious. She says she thinks so. I ask to speak with E’s Dad.
“Hi there.” I say. Thanks so much for taking care of her. Any chance you can tell if this is um, well, maybe a little bit of ten year-old drama perhaps or if she really got hurt badly?”
He says he has no idea and offers to send me a picture of her foot.
I thank him and tell him I’m going to try to get hold of Luau who is only ten minutes away. I tell him I’ll call back.
I try Luau but can’t get him.
I call back and ask to speak with Katie again.
She is still crying. I tell her I’m on my way.
We thank E’s dad profusely and hobble together out to the car.
I take a good, hard look at Katie’s foot but I see a whole lot of nothing. It’s maybe a teeny weeny bit swollen (I think), mildly bruised (or is that just the light?) and a little red (which I’m assuming is from the ice).
I bite back a wave of something between frustration and anger. I left work for this? Seriously? We were shorthanded. Leaving was a big deal. A really big deal. I — I take a deep breath and say what I’m thinking.
“Listen, babe. I’ve got to be honest. I don’t think it looks that bad. I’m not saying that it doesn’t hurt. I understand that it really does. I really, really do. Bruises on the bone like that can be awful. But I think we should go home and put it up with some ice and see how you feel in a little while.”
Katie isn’t buying it. “Mama,” she says, “I had ice on it for forty-five minutes. It still hurts just as much as it did before. I think we should go to the hospital. I hope they tell us there’s nothing wrong. And if they do, then you can cream me with I told you so’s. But I think we should go.”
I’m not much older than Katie. I’m lying down on the floor in the gym. I’ve just fallen off the balance beam in epic fashion. Mid back flip, upside down, my shin met the beam with a nauseating thwack. The pain is blinding.
I’m listening to the adults talk above my head. I hear my dad ask, “How bad is it?” The team trainer answers,”Oh, she’ll be fine. Just gonna be a nasty bruise in the morning. Keep it elevated and put some ice on it overnight.”
My dad crouches down to me on the floor. “How bad?” he asks.
“Daddy, it KILLS,” I answer through tears.
He takes me straight to the ER. Within hours I am in a full leg cast with a broken tibia. My dad never doubted me.
I don’t ask again.
I drive my girl to the hospital.
As the doctor announces that she has broken not just one bone in her foot but more likely two, Katie looks at me and says, “So much for the creaming me with I told you so’s.”