A few years ago, on a Saturday morning, I was crossing the road to the local shop with my daughter, Norma Jean. We held hands to cross halfway and paused. Suddenly, spontaneously, without warning, Norma Jean decided to burst across the road.
Unfortunately, a car simultaneously decided to sharply turn left without indicating. It all happened quickly - very quickly. The car ran over Norma’s foot and she collapsed. The car stopped and the lady pleaded: ‘Oh God. I didn’t see her. I didn’t see her. I’m sorry. She just ran out.’
I picked my daughter up in my arms and ran home. Her face was ashen white. Mine was red. I was in shock. I was nearly in tears. My wife, a nurse, calmly took stock of the situation and asked: ‘Did you remember to get the cornflakes ?’. We skipped breakfast and immediately went to casualty. Thankfully, my daughter’s ankle wasn’t broken, just badly bruised. Well a very heavy car had ran over it so that diagnosis wasn’t entirely unexpected.
A couple of years later, I returned home from work on a balmy summer evening and a neighbour informed me: ‘Oh Norma’s just taken Norma Jean to hospital. You might catch them if you’re quick’. I arrived in casualty to discover that Norma Jean had jumped off the front wall wearing pink flip-flops and ‘hurt her arm’. Well, the truth was she had broken her arm close to the elbow and, if you looked really close, you could see the bare bone.
We waited patiently to be seen. My daughter was ashen white. She was in shock. My wife asked for some painkillers for Norma Jean while we waited and waited. When the nurse came over and briefly glanced at the injury, she quickly said ‘Err - I think you had better come through to see the consultant. Now.’
In the early hours, a clever, experienced surgeon repaired my daughter’s arm. I was at home all night wide awake. I visited the hospital in the morning and the consultant reassured me thus: ‘I have been an orthopedic surgeon for 23 years and that was the second most difficult fracture, I have ever seen.’ I nearly fainted so I neglected to ask him about the nature of the award winning injury.
Thankfully, Norman Jean made a full recovery and was able to resume her sporting activities although wall jumping in flip-flops was banned.
My third visit to the casualty unit came when my son was forced to take his turn in goal during a normal Sunday morning for U10’s Little League. Norman Junior III dived to his right and turned a pile-driver around the post (traffic cone) for a corner. Not a bad effort for a midfield player.
I continued to follow the play upfield but another parent interrupted me: ‘Is your lad OK ?’. I looked back towards to the goalmouth and Norman was gingerly holding his arm. I reluctantly walked over and he said ‘Dad - my arm really hurts.’ I told him to grit his teeth, think of Bert Trautmann and just get through 5 minutes to half-time when he would be an outfield player again.
At half-time, he was now squatting down, holding his arm, in tears. ‘My arm still really hurts, Dad’. Ashamedly, I made my excuses and took my son home, leaving his team down to ten men in a crucial end of season game. Norma forced him to put his kit in the washing machine, have a shower, asked him to finish his History homework and finally dosed him up with Calpol.
At tea time, Norman Junior III didn’t eat his tea and was obviously spoiling to miss school on Monday. Very inconvenient as both of us are working. ‘But Mum - my arm still really hurts.’ So we decided to call his bluff, even though it meant missing ‘Antiques Roadshow’ and prepared for yet another long wait in casualty.
We were mortified to be told he had a ‘green stick’ fracture of his right arm from saving a shot. We were even more mortified when trying to explain to the social worker why we didn’t bring him to hospital for a full 8 hours after the original incident. We were even more mortified when she asked if we had ever had reason to bring either of our children to hospital in the past 5 years.