Fractures: from the perspective of a mother

In previous entries I have talked about what is going through my head as my body registers that a fracture has just occurred. But what is going on around me? Let's shift the camera lens to my mother --

I'm at home sitting at the dining room table, about to get up from my seat and walk back to my room with my walker. My mother is in the kitchen cleaning up. She sees me turn sideways in my seat, she watches as I reach for my walker, and somehow to her disbelief she watches how I missed the millimeters from where my fingers should have grasped the walker handles -- suddenly I am face down on the floor, screaming that both of my femurs had snapped on impact. 
"Does your chest hurt? What about your ribs? What about your arms?" She rushes towards me, takes off the yellow rubber maid gloves she uses to wash the dishes and kneels by my side. My mom knows that she is going to have to turn me over, and she knows that it is going to cause me a lot of pain with two of my legs broken. But thankfully because I was walking I had my leg braces on, so she used them to stabilize the fractures as best as she could. She turns me on my back and while I have sweated through my clothes she carries me in her arms onto the couch. 
Her face is focused and determined. No other person exists for these moments until she gets her daughter to the hospital, until I am in the care of my orthopedic doctor. Skillfully she has then transferred me to the car, called the doctor and let him know that we will be meeting him shortly in the cast room. There is no talking during the drive there, she winces and holds her breath with me whenever she goes over a bump or as she gently maneuvers the car over a pothole. During the x-ray she is tense and stands nervously by the radiologist as he tries to position me; I am not sure who I feel bad for - the radiologist who is visibly nervous as a fiercely overbearing Asian mother is breathing down his neck, or for my mother as she knows that the painful process of positioning broken bones for an x-ray is a necessary evil I must go through.

And she can't do anything about any of it.

Her face is white, her lips drawn tight, and she wrings her hands as she watches the doctor peering at the x-ray over the light table. 
"Okay well, we're going to need mom's help to help hold while we put the cast on. Gently now.." My orthopedic doctor will say like a stage director, cuing my mom onto the scene. She gets up from her chair and helps to undo my pants, taking care to notice where the injured areas are before the doctor touches anything. Mentally noting where her daughter is gripping her broken bones so that she will know to hold them in the same way, with the same desperation and intensity as the fiber glass cast goes on. 

While the cast is being put on, my burden is temporarily in someone else's hands. It is in the hands of skillful precision of my orthopedic doctor, it's in the hands of a gentle orthopedic cast specialist, and most importantly in the hands that I, as the child, trusts the most - my mother's.
As she is holding the broken limb it is the closest she will ever be to how I am feeling. Or to understanding what it's like to be me. We are not a family that talks about feelings, or to even acknowledge that I may be any different from my brothers in terms of expectations and abilities. And I begin to feel better during these moments because even if she doesn't know what it's like to have O.I., or if even if she's never broken a bone in her life, and while she may not be willing to talk about emotions -- she is being my mother in these moments, and over the years this image is what remains when I think of my mother; this is the image that explains to me what mother's do: they will drop everything and everyone if their kid is broken, they make every effort to be there when their child needs it the most, and above all they will be the surest hands that hold everything together when none of the pieces seem to fit and no science can explain them away. 

Posted in , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. RSS feed for this post.

One Response to Fractures: from the perspective of a mother

  1. Wow that was quite emotional for me, I teared up a bit because I remember this happening to me tens of times when I was a kid. My mother and I had a lot of routine like this too. I took hold of the fractured leg or hand and mom lifted me to the car like I was a statue, not able to move. She knew how much it hurt. Once when I was like 2 or so, she just had to bite her lip as some jerk doctor had just waved my broken leg and said "Oh yes, it's obviously broken." and I had screamed like hell.


Copyright © 2011 Perfectly Imperfecta. Powered by Blogger.