We all know how suddenly things happen, lives change. Very often it is the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell’s ingenious invention, that is the harbinger of bad news. Nearly two weeks ago at a few minutes to 2:00, I received a telephone call. I’d been out that day, escorting my youngest sons class on a trip to the library, the walking and the keeping a close eye on and entertaining 4 small children had left me feeling a bit drained and so I settled in to watch a bit of tv with the husband before getting back to my coursework. I had momentarily considered not answering the phone, it being all the way upstairs and me feeling so tired and comfortable on the couch. But, with three kids in three different schools the odds are always in favour of it being one of the schools. So, I rushed up the stairs and leapt on it. And I was right. It was a school. But, not phoning to ask me to collect an ill child (like today), or to bring in that £2 for that school lunch from 3 months ago (like yesterday) or even to schedule a meeting or ask about an after school club or any other mundane thing. No. It was the call you hope you never get from the school.
“Hello, Mrs. G?”
“This is Devon’s school. Could you come to the school please? There’s been an accident, we’ve called the ambulance and they’re on their way”
This is where you stop breathing. This is the split second where your life changes. The moment before you know for sure if your child, who was fit and well and happy and fed and dry and warm and loved only six hours ago when you kissed him goodbye and reminded him to put his best foot forward as he left for school, is alive or dead.
“We think he’s broken his leg.”
And, like that, you can breathe again. You promise to be right there. Rush downstairs, slip your sandals on, calmly tell your husband “It’s the school, they think he’s broken his leg, we need to go”, rush outside, jump in the car and spend the next 5 minutes swearing about the fact you had to send your kid to the school that takes twice the time to get to as the closer one.
One torturously long walk across the school campus, 20 minutes trying to comfort a teenager alternating between screaming and sucking gas and air and a light and siren ambulance ride later, I was here. Pacing, worrying, not crying.
His thigh had doubled in size, it was hugely swollen and oddly discoloured. But there was no wound, no blood, no bone sticking out. No one could say if it was broken or not, we just had to wait for the xray. We waited. They told me the femur is the biggest and strongest bone in the body, it’s pretty hard to break it, they said. Especially at school. It’s usually car crashes, they said.
Usually. Suddenly he was famous. The ambulance crew were back, they crowded around the xray to have a look, then Devon’s bed to more or less congratulate him on achieving a 71mph motorcycle crash injury.
Eventually Devon was taken to the adolescents ward and we spent the night. He was on a heavy dose of morphine and slept and threw up most of the night. The next day, four hours after he was scheduled, he went in for surgery. As I left him in the operating theatre, after telling him I loved him and watching the anaesthetic take hold, knocking him out cold, I finally started to cry. Leaving my child, unconscious, in a strange room, full of strange equipment with strangers who were going to slice his leg open and screw a metal plate to his bone while chatting about their day or their plans for the weekend, went against every maternal instinct I have and I wanted to scoop him up and just run far, far away. Logic dictates I wouldn’t have gotten very far, however what with him being almost a foot taller than I and weighing 50kgs of mostly muscle. Also, I probably would’ve brought him straight back anyway, once he’d been without his morphine long enough to start screaming again. So, I let myself be led out of the room, and the hospital to fetch my little ones from school, while they operated.
He was in surgery about 3 hours, and unconscious another 3 after that. It was a long night, waiting for him to come back to his room, and then to wake up.
In total we stayed 5 nights. The nurses were lovely, but the parents bed was awful, the “parents” break room dreadful, and getting any useful information out of anyone was akin to breaking through the iron curtain with a heavy stick. I was grateful to get home.
Devon broke his femur, which was repaired using a metal plate and 5 screws. He’s not allowed to put any weight on the leg for 6 weeks, and is living in the living room, only occasionally getting off the couch with the use of crutches or a walker, due to the weight of the huge cast on his leg. He’s likely out of school for the remainder of the year, and no action has been taken against the pupil who threw himself at my son and broke his leg. It’s being called an “accident”, which I suppose is code for “no one wants to take responsibility or even apologize so you should just accept it and get over it”
My intention to “sue” the school for negligence is currently being treated as unreasonable and as if I’m just out for money.