It’s just a dislocated knee from, to quote the boy, “too much dancing and jumping.” The camp nurse, MB, broke it to me slowly, which is good because I was driving when she called to say that his knee was injured and the ambulance was on its way. It was all I go do to stop myself from getting on the highway and driving west toward camp. It didn’t matter that it would probably all be taken care of by the time I got there – the thought of him in an Emergency Room without me sent my stomach through the floor. But I held it together and kept my sense of humor, laughing when she told me that, when they went move him he glowered and them and warned, “Don’t even think about it!” I’m sure there was plenty more of that before the night was out.
As our strange brand of luck would have it, he already had some ER experience under his belt. Thanks to an emergency appendectomy in 2007, he’d already been to an emergency room, already had pain killers, already had x-rays and an I.V. Some of those memories were traumatic – courtesy of an atrocious phlebotomist – but we had worked them through for the most part already. But in 2007 (five years ago to the day from this event, now that I look at the calendar) I never left his side for days at a time. Now all I had was a guy named Tom the EMT at the other end of a cell phone and a counselor named Liam with a fabulous British accent, both telling me that he was fine. I had gone from not trusting anyone with my kid to allowing two complete strangers to ride in an ambulance with him (that part was new – I think he thought it was cool) and advocate for his care. How this happened and why I didn’t drive through the night to get there I am still trying to figure out.
But I had no choice but to ask a lot of questions and hope they got the best care they could. The plan was to give him some pain killers, pop the errant knee back into place, take some more x-rays to assure that nothing else was wrong and send him tromping back to camp with a brace and a boatload of Motrin.
I spoke with him on the phone twice in the ER, and he sounded pretty good. At one point he said, “May I return now?”
“Oh, you’ll be going back to camp in a while, don’t worry.”
“No, I mean come home.” No tears, no angst in his voice, just a simple question. I had to answer fast, since any hesitation would reveal my ambivalence and would be taken as an opening for negotiation. I wanted to say yes and so I can’t remember exactly what I did say, but I know I laughed and assured him that he would be fine among his friends at camp and added that we would be visiting soon anyway. I am so proud of his bravery in the face of all these transitions I could not possibly let him think that getting hurt was the way to come home. I have too many pictures of him smiling and it was too close to family day to let what appeared to be a recoverable injury undermine his summer, even if he didn’t quite see it that way. No worries, I told him.
Family day is coming up. We’ll check out the knee, check out the boy and see what comes next. Our turn to tromp.