Earlier this year, we had a really rough time as a family. With the death of an aunt and a beloved grandad within 4 weeks of each other, my husband tried to cheer me up by buying tickets for us to see Simple Minds at the O2, supported by Ultravox, on 30 November.
For the last few months, we have been counting down the weeks and days; we rarely get out as a couple so this was a date night and a trip back to our youth. Excited would be an understatement.
As the day dawned, the anticipation was almost visible in the house. My in laws were travelling down to stay the night so that the kids, who are used to us being there at bed time, would settle easier in their own beds. Going out is a major planning operation, as anyone with children with special needs or disabilities will understand.
At 10.00, bacon sandwiches were handed out and the kids were asking what time Nanny was getting here, what time we were going out, what time would we get back, etc and my eldest gorgeous boy went for his usual little run – back and to – his escape mechanism and coping strategy. He does this several times a day and we have even re-arranged the ground floor of our home so he can.
He slipped and fell over. As he shouted out, we went running. He never shouts out in pain. As he stood up, he held his forearm and said “I think this hurts”. We looked at his arm and my stomach dropped. I have never seen an arm quite that shape.
A mad dash to the local hospital ensued and I have to give full credit to the staff at the William Harvey Hospital A&E as we were taken straight through to the minor injuries dressing unit (no waiting for triage) and as the shock set in and his colour suddenly drained and his legs started to shake, we were rushed through to a trolley and a cocktail of ibruprofen, paracetamol and morphine were given.
As he started to ask for a drink, the nurse said “we think he is going to need surgical intervention so no drinks, sorry” and I knew that this was going to be a long day. After a trip to x-ray, the results were displayed on screen and I burst into tears. This was a proper break. I then reassured him that Mummy was just pretending to cry, that I was fine really. As the nurse gave me a glass of water, I took a sip and then put it down, as I realised he was watching. We were in this together so I was going nil by mouth if he was.
The orthopaedic surgeon arrived, along with gas/air as they had decided to put a temporary cast on until he could have surgery. Now I have always known he has a really high pain threshold (after a hernia op, he was up and running less than an hour after returning from theatre) but even I was amazed to watch him having his arm moved about as the cast was put on, without a flinch as he explained to me about voice over actors who had died in hospitals! He is obsessed with voice over actors and can tell you who does what voice, what over voices they do, and, where appropriate, he can also tell you how, where and when they died. With his obsession to occupy him, the gas and air sat unused, just taking up space. I can assure you, this pain threshold is not from me – I took any and all pain relief on offer when in labour – and it certainly doesn’t come from his dad – he is a typical bloke and man flu etc is a regular visitor to our home.
As we left the department to go to the Children’s ward to await surgery, a nurse told him he was genuinely the bravest boy she had ever met. When I smiled and said “thanks”, she responded “no, I really mean it”.
The next few hours dragged. His pain threshold meant he had time to get bored. My ipad died, as did my iphone, he was hungry and very thirsty. He was insisting we give him a drink and when we refused, he said “you just want me to die. People die of thirst you know”. When I pointed out that I hadn’t had a drink either, he said “yes you did. When you were pretending to cry downstairs”. Oh the shame.
I then tried to make him happier by telling him he wouldn’t be going to school for a few days at least. However, he has been told on a number of occasions that if you don’t go to school, your parents can go to prison so he then decided to ask “will you go to jail because of this” as a nurse walked in. Oh the joys of literal children and the explanations you have to give.
Eventually he was taken down to theatre and the wait began. The clock goes so slowly and with each minute, you start to think the worst. Eventually, we got the call that he was in recovery and once we brought him back to the ward (and he had had a drink – against everyone’s wishes but without any of the consequences we all expected), he fell back into a deep sleep and I suddenly realised what we had gone through. I sort of sank into a chair and the tears came. The relief that he was ok, along with the fact that the initial plan of just pulling his arm back into place hadn’t worked so my gorgeous little boy was lying there with a metal plate and 4 screws in his arm, just hit in hard.
As I looked at the clock, it was 9.30pm and I realised that Simple Minds would probably be blasting out “Don’t you forget about me” as I sat looking at my son knowing that I would never ever be able to forget about him. He and his siblings will always be my number one priority, nothing will ever be more important.
I also know that the next few weeks are going to be really difficult for him as running is not an option so his coping mechanism is not available to him. He also will struggle to play his DS or PS3/Vita, his stitches under the plaster will itch as they heal and I know that he is going to find it so difficult. Like everything else, we will get through it together and will come out the other side with smiles on our faces but as I write this, I would give anything for a time machine to take us forward in time so he doesn’t have to go through it.
I am hopeful that we will get another opportunity to see Simple Minds but I am more hopeful that we never get another opportunity to sit outside a theatre waiting for one of our children to come out safely.