Thank God for a broken arm

Sallie Satterthwaite's picture

Call it expediency, but I’m taking advantage of (1) a family crisis, (2) the feedback I get from readers who tell me they love grandchildren stories, plus (3) the fact that the column planned for this week was only half-finished when the phone rang.

I was having some problems with the audio systems of both the desktop and the laptop computers, so I wrote our son-in-law Brian, a former IT and computer genius in anyone’s book, detailing the symptoms and what I’d tried to do.

He wrote back with some smart-aleck crack like, “Are you sure the power cord to the speakers isn’t plugged in backward ?” and said he’d call later if it turned out not to be an easy fix.

“Yes,” I replied, “but guess what? I must have jiggled something because all of a sudden, they’re working, and I can listen to Enya while I write this week’s column! Thanks, Brian, for whatever you did from 700 miles away!”

I had hardly posted that when the telephone rang.

“Mom, it’s Brian,” he said.

“I thought it would be you,” I replied. “You haven’t read my last e-mail.”

“No, but this is not about the computer,” he said, his voice cracking slightly. “I’m behind an ambulance with Jean and Obed in it –” and at that point the line went silent for a split second.

A split second is all it takes for a mother and grandmother to think that her world had just shattered. Jean and Samuel (his dad prefers using his middle name) going to a hospital? Was there an accident? Which of a dozen ways could a mom and a little boy be hurt at the same time?

“Brian! Are you still there? What happened? Brian?”

“I’m here,” he answered. “Just a little choked up –” and something about a broken arm.

“Did you say ‘broken arm’?” I started to shout. I needed to get whatever attention he had left while talking on a cell phone, speeding behind an ambulance, and weeping.

“Brian! Samuel’s arm?”

“Yes,” he replied. “He broke his arm and it’s all swollen, and Jean’s with him –”

The relief was incredible. I was almost laughing.

“Brian, listen to me. First of all, slow down and pay attention to what you’re doing. A broken arm! Trust me, I’m not belittling this, but little boys don’t die of broken arms. What happened?” (All the while I’m thinking, Thank you, God, for a broken arm. It could have been so much worse. Thank you for a broken arm.)

“I know,” he said. “I just tend to get a little emotional with these things.” As long as Jean kept her cool, I thought. They can turn this into a great adventure as soon as they reduce the fracture and the pain. Maybe I’ll write his story for him. Reading stories is high on Samuel’s list of favorite activities.

“He apparently went off the trampoline at an odd angle and landed on Isaac,” Brian was saying.

“A trampoline? You don’t have a trampoline,” I said.

“We were at the pastor’s house and the boys were playing in the backyard.” By now he had calmed down and was giving me some details. I was shaking with tension giving way to relief, which was giving way to giddiness.

They were almost at the new pediatric ER that recently opened in Leesburg, so he hung up and moments later, Jean called. I could hear some gaspy snuffling near the phone. It was Sam, not his mom. She sounded OK. I told her Brian had called, and made her promise to call later. I have a hunch she’ll be staying at the hospital tonight. Can’t do much with a fracture until the swelling goes down.

And oldest daughter Abigail’s wedding is three weeks away.

Details aren’t in yet, but it seems Sam, his big bro Isaac and some other boys were jumping on the trampoline when he took an awkward fall. Isaac apparently was not damaged.

Samuel’s arm, his right arm, swelled like a balloon, almost instantaneously, just below the elbow. He’ll be 4 in August, and appears to be left-handed. This may settle it.

Little kids’ bones are fairly pliant and resistant to fracture, but they do happen. In a later call Brian said the X-rays show a fractured humerus (the upper arm bone) just above the elbow, which was dislocated. They were transferring Samuel to Inova Fairfax and he’ll have surgery in the morning. He’s on morphine and in no pain.

Right now it doesn’t matter, but, darn, it’s summertime. He loves the pool, the slides, the swings, rolling in the grass at the end of the street. There’s a wedding soon, lots going on, but, wisely, no plans to have a ring bearer named Samuel Obed.

I think he’ll do all right; he’ll probably swipe center stage out from under Abigail. Now if we can just pull his Daddy through…

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