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It's a Miracle Any Of Them Live To Adulthood

It’s a Miracle Any Of Them Live To Adulthood

By Mir Kamin

Everyone has at least one story (and usually more than one) about The Time You Thought Your Kid Was Being A Brat And It Turned Out You Were Just A Jerk. If you have a child, you’ve missed an illness or injury at some point… and often it involved being annoyed with said child, too. These stories get passed around in commiseration because we’ve all been there and the guilt can be crushing. Knowing you’re not the only one makes it more bearable.

Here’s my favorite: my daughter, my darling firstborn, was… not a fan of sleeping. By four months—when most other babies were settling into a sleep routine—she could still go from unconscious to screaming in .0001 second if she realized you’d just placed her in the crib. She was not a self-soother, to put it mildly. By the time she was six months, we were desperate. I read Ferber and we began the process of “Ferberization” (returning to the room to assure her that she was okay, patting her but not picking her up, etc.) in a last-ditch effort to get her sleeping on her own. It seemed to be working, too, but then one night she just would not stop crying and screaming. My husband wanted to go pick her up, but I pointed out that Ferber said this was to be expected, and she was fine. Still, it was hard to listen to. Finally my husband couldn’t stand it anymore and went and picked her up… and she threw up all over him. And then about 100 more times that night.

Um. Oops? (Sorry, kid. I’ll keep footing the therapy bills as long as you need.)

There’s a certain mixed emotion when something like that happens with a pre-verbal child; on the one hand, it’s not like she could tell us she was sick (and she often cried/screamed just because she didn’t want to go to sleep). On the other hand, our job is to tend to our tiny, helpless children as best we can. So there’s a bit of “How could we have known?” mixed with “I’m supposed to know.”

But this is a phenomenon of parenting little kids, right? Well… no.

Both of my children have sensory issues which render their ability to identify and gauge pain a bit wonky. My son often doesn’t register pain at all, while my daughter is at the other extreme, responding to a tiny scratch as if her limb was just amputated with a rusty spoon. You would think that knowing this would render me better able to meet their needs, but you would be wrong. Because what am I supposed to do, constantly assume he’s sick but doesn’t know it and that she’s not overreacting this time and I should pay attention? (Yes, probably I should do that. Shhhh.)

You know where I’m going with this, right? Over a month ago, my daughter was fooling around with some friends at marching band practice. Okay, if you must know, they were pretending to be airplanes and zooming around the band room, picking up and dropping the plastic boxes they keep their shakos (hats) in. (Yes, she’s almost 18. No, I can’t explain.) Later that night, she mentioned that on one “zoom” she’d picked up a shako box and her wrist had twisted a little further than was comfortable, and she felt a little pop, but at the time she didn’t think anything of it… but now it kind of hurt. Okay. Ice! Advil! Pointless lecture about why being an airplane in the band room might be a bad idea if you’re accident-prone! And then I forgot about it. A week later, she’d been wearing a borrowed a brace from a friend and complaining that it still hurt, so I took her to the pediatrician. The pediatrician said it was probably just “some sort of soft tissue strain” and to wear the brace and call back for an orthopedist referral in two weeks if it still hurt. Two weeks later, it still hurt, so I called and got the referral… for an appointment two more weeks out.

In the meantime, my daughter has been unable to play her flute at all. She’s been managing with her piccolo, sort of. She’s confided that she feels like her music teachers are starting to feel like she’s just kind of milking it and not trying, and I’ll admit that I wasn’t sure they were wrong. As she is now committed to a music program for next year in college, the inability to practice has been causing her more and more anxiety, and yes, I wondered if it was a vicious cycle of “I can’t practice… I don’t want to practice because I haven’t practiced…” taking place.

This week we saw the orthopedist, finally. After a full set of X-rays and a thorough exam which left my kid in tears (guuuuuuuuilt) the doctor explained that tendon injuries can be quite severe, and failure to rest them can make them worse. “We need complete immobilization here for at least four weeks,” she said. “What color cast do you want?”

Not only had I spent five weeks wondering if my kid was exaggerating, now she’s in a cast up to her elbow and cannot hold a pencil or play either of her instruments, so she’s mad and frustrated on top of being injured. Awesome.

I did the most logical thing I could think of: I took to Facebook to share what a terrible mom I am in having let this injury languish for so long. Lo and behold, my friends did not fail to rally ’round to share their own stories of missed injuries and illnesses, making me much better about my own ineptitude. A small sampling of the stories shared:

“Apparently being able to wiggle fingers is not a sign that an arm isn’t broken. Who knew?!”

“My daughter hurt her hand in soccer practice, doing a drill, by kicking herself in the hand. Her dad and I didn’t see it happen but our reaction to the tears was to tell her to rub some dirt on it and get back to practice. Her coach happened to be a plastic surgeon. He took a quick look and suggested getting it looked at. Primary care doc didn’t think it was more than a bruise. Turned out to be a growth plate fracture.”

“Dude. When I broke a bone at age 12, my dad, insisting it was dislocated, TRIED TO ‘POP IT BACK INTO PLACE.'”

“My parents thought I was faking scoliosis and a lazy eye.”

“My kid about died from a ruptured appendix and I told him to ‘suck it up and don’t whine,’ because I thought he was constipated. Oops. Still living that one down to this day.”

“Kid had what I thought was a cold with a lingering cough not long ago and kept complaining her throat was sore. I kept telling her it was viral and needed to run its course. She works in a pharmacy, after all. Finally took her in and found she had strep throat, a double ear infection and pneumonia.”

And the one that won the whole thread, courtesy of the lovely Toni McGee Causey:

When my youngest was 19, he was sparring at my brother’s karate school, and then was horsing around in the parking lot, and accidentally stepped forward into a round-house kick to the face. Drove home. Next morning, he doesn’t even look bruised. No black eye. But he said his teeth felt loose. I ignored him because there was no bleeding, nothing broken. He looked fine and we all know that a hard hit can loosen teeth. I told him they’d tighten up in a day or so. The next day, he mentions they’re still really loose. Then he sort of pushed on them and his entire upper jaw moved.

I took him for an x-ray, and they ended up doing an MRI. The doctor calls me over to view the results. He said, “I stopped counting the breaks at 37.” His eye socket (above the teeth) was shattered. The doctor said, “He’s lucky he didn’t lose his eye by not coming in earlier. ” Because it could have fallen into his cheek. It took 3 metal plates to hold it all together.

Suddenly, I didn’t feel so bad. Also, the kid got a pretty purple cast and is confused about why I keep telling her “Well at least your eye didn’t fall out!”

Mir Kamin
About the Author

Mir Kamin

Mir Kamin began writing about her life online over a decade ago, back when she was a divorced mom trying to raise two regular little kids and figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up. Now ...

Mir Kamin began writing about her life online over a decade ago, back when she was a divorced mom trying to raise two regular little kids and figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up. Now her life looks very different than it did back then: Those little kids turned into anything-but-regular teenagers, she is remarried, and somehow she’s become one of those people who talks to her dogs in a high-pitched baby voice. Along the way she’s continued chronicling the everyday at Woulda Coulda Shoulda, plus she’s bringing you daily bargain therapy at Want Not. The good news is that Mir grew up and became a writer and she still really likes hanging out with her kids; the bad news is that her hair is a lot grayer than it used to be.

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Comments

  • Kay

    My college roommate and I bonded over these types of stories on our first day at school! Hers was very similar to the appendix story above.

    I fell down the stairs when I was 8 and hurt my leg. My parents did EVERYTHING you’re not supposed to do to a fracture – applied heat, told me to “walk it off”, etc. About a week later I mentioned it to my gym teacher because my foot was swollen and starting to go black and blue, and the school called the ambulance! My parents breathed a huge sigh of relief that they didn’t end up getting investigated for neglect!

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  • Hollie

    My husband and his five siblings all have stories of 103+ degree fevers, pneumonia, needing an emergency tonsillectomy, ect and being told to “suck it up, you’re fine, go feed the cows”. You’d think it’d make my husband tougher but he still acts as if he’s dying from a cold so not only do I tell my kids to walk it off I tell my husband so often that he may actually die of a cold one day.

  • Brenda

    I struggle to evaluate my own need for care, so I can appreciate how much harder it must be when you can feel the symptoms of your kids. I know my tonsils get really swollen when I get a cold, but just about every time I get sick I do the “strep or no strep” debate in my head. I feel like diagnosing is super hit or miss because hey, I don’t have a medical degree. Sure, I might know when something hurts, but is it my appendix or just gas? Hard to say.

  • Kristin

    I broke a toe doing cartwheels barefoot when I was about 11. I knew immediately and went inside to tell mom I broke my toe. Mom says walk it off. The next day after school I come home and take off my shoes. My foot was swollen and turning all shades of black and blue. Actual quote from mom: “Oh my God you broke your toe!!!” Well yes, I told you that yesterday. Lol. I gave her grief for taking me to the ER because what the heck, it’s already been a day, let’s just go to the doctor tomorrow. We still laugh at that one.

  • diane

    When I was in Jr. High, I was playing basketball with some boys (not well mind you), and caught the ball kind of funny so that it bent backward. It hurt and was reddish, but we had dinner plans with my Aunt and her family so my Mom was in no mood to worry about going to the emergency room.  Over the course of dinner my finger grew more and more swollen & purple.  So, reluctantly we went to the ER after dessert and it turned out I had chipped off a piece of the bone.  Oh, the guilt! I’m 40+ and my Mom still brings it up as a moment of Mom shame. 😉 

    • diane

      I was multi-tasking when I posted–that should say that my FINGER bent backward.  And was chipped, etc. 

  • Cheryl S.

    My brother was playing basketball and came down on his ankle wrong. He immediately says he can’t feel his foot.  Since he’s all drama, my mom doesn’t believe him. She then squeezes the skin on the top of his foot between her fingernails.  Off to the hospital.  The doc takes one look at his foot and says “You’ve been bitten by a snake!”  My mom then had to explain that she pinched him because she thought he was lying.

    It was a compressed nerve in his ankle. . . 

    • Kristin

      Okay that made me laugh. out. loud.

  • Earlier this year when I was sick I thought I had sprained my ankle somehow, so I called in sick to work and went to an urgent care clinic since it was a weekend. Then I proceeded to collapse in the waiting room and so they called an ambulance for me. Turned out to be a pretty bad case of cellulitis in my left lower leg/ankle and I was in the hospital almost three weeks. All better now, but I will be more attentive to swelling/redness in the future if I have joint pain.

  • Wendy E

    I apparently missed this post. Last January my daughter hurt her knee coming down from a dance move at practice. I told her to walk it off, she ran around like crazy on it all weekend. The next week she is still complaining so decide to take her in. Internal bruising galore, crutches for two months, and she missed the only dance competitions of the year. Now this year she is having issues with it again, and has been put on restrictions for cheerleading until it heals.

  • Sonia

    Learned the hard way that strep throat left untreated becomes scarlet fever. My poor daughter. And the embarrassment seeing that in print go home in every take home…. Still not over it and it has been years. It wasn’t UNTREATED, I swear. I just didn’t know her throat was hurting that much!

    • Amy

      I did this too.  I noticed a rash on my daughters tummy when I was giving her a bath. Called it in out of curiosity and they thought she should be seen. Okay, I bring her in and it is Scarlet Fever. She never complained of anything. Oh, and her name is Scarlett. The Dr office thought it was funny, after they lectured me. Sigh.

  • another sue

    Ah, that this ended with grown children. I managed to flunk Heart Attack 101 with my aged mother. In my defense (!), she didn’t share all of her symptoms with me, just that she wondered if I had a 7-up, because she felt “gassy” and was sure she would feel better if she could just belch. Oh, and she had pain in her shoulder blade area. I figured her for strained muscles, as it was early spring, and she had been standing on her head pulling weeds out of her flower beds. Also in my defense, her symptoms had started while she was in Sunday School Class with fellow old codgers, and they all totally missed it too. I did mention that we could go to the emergency room. You know, where the medical experts hang out, but she had a Dr. appointment the next day and figured she could wait until then. She didn’t want to bother anyone. I was off work the following day and again offered to drive her, but no. . . she knew I had things to do. When I got home late the next afternoon, and she wasn’t home, I knew it wasn’t good. They had tried to call me – (cell phones, the early years – very poor reception in rural areas ) She had gone to her appointment, they had taken one look at her at the reception desk, dumped her into a wheel chair and RAN her next door to the hospital emergency room. You know, in case you think this misdiagnosing of one’s family members ends when the kids are grown. Um. . . sorry, no.

  • Stef

    Appendix. It’s always the appendix.

    On a family vacation to Hawaii at the age of 22 my abdomen hurt. It was a Wednesday. I was nauseous and not well. Over the next few days it got worse and worse and isolated to my right side. The more I complained (and slowed down and stopped eating and was obviously sick) the more my darling mother complained about me ruining her trip. I wasn’t trying hard enough. I was acting up because I hate shopping. I was doing this on purpose. Obviously.

    We flew home on a Sunday. Upon getting home my dad said that’s it I’m sick of you both. Take her to the doctor. So my mom begrudging took me to the doctor, complaining the whole time that this was a waste of time and I should just sleep it off.

    Cut to emergency surgery for a ruptured appendix and sepsis because it had been 5 days. My mom was MORTIFIED. And still doesn’t like to talk about it.

    But I get it. I’ve got 2 boys. Both like me. They don’t complain unless it’s actually a thing, and my default is usually “shake it off”. Ugh. I’m the worst.

  • Kristin

    That was great.  We do all have those stories.  No matter the age.  Gosh, great way to start my Thursday.

  • Kristin

    I feel like I should add now.  After laughing again.

    My 17 year old daughter told me one day her pinky toe hurt.  I gave her the scrunched up face look and went “really?”  She said she cut her toenail too close.  Like the rest of you I shook my head and told her to move on out of my kitchen please.

    Over the next two weeks, she mentioned the damned toe once or twice and each time I told her to knock it off, I didn’t care about her tiny toe and honestly child, you’re walking right?

    So around that two week mark, I’m cooking and she’s sitting at the table and in my peripheral vision, I see that she’s kicked her foot up on the table and I hear the “Mom, my toe…”

    I interrupted with a “ARE YOU KIDDING ME ABOUT THE TOE?  OH MY GOD STOP IT.”  And I turned and went to the table.

    To see a pinky toe swollen bright red with a Saturn’s ring of white around it.  The white was squishy, like a blister.  

    Huh.  So I snapped a picture, sent it to her med-school uncle who said “take the white thing off so I can see the toe.”  I informed him that I thought the white thing was like a blister and he responded with “GET HER TO THE ER BEFORE SHE LOSES THAT TOE.”

    Good time, fellow parents, good times.

    • What in the world?? What was it? Was it just infected? DON’T LEAVE ME HANGING, WOMAN!

  • Christy

    A few years ago, my middle kid had an incident at cheer practice in late August. Some of the girls were goofing off, doing stunts without spotters. They lost control and BAM! Down came the flier on top of the bases. One of which was my kid. She ended up with a chipped tooth and aches and pains.

    Fast forward to mid December when I finally took her to the pediatrician because her shoulder gave her issues when she’d play her violin. Yeah…she had a separated shoulder for THREE AND A HALF MONTHS but I brushed it off because she could deal with the pain.

    After months and months of physical therapy she finally regained strength and range of motion. Poor kid…

  • bean

    When I was about 11, I tripped over a Nintendo cord and put out my hands to stop myself.  My landing spot for my right hand was a kerosene heater.  Obviously my mom had me put my hand in ice water, but kept telling me to simmer down.  Turned out i had bad burns and had to keep the whole thing covered for 2 weeks with special burn cream.  Nothing like going to day care with 3 year olds because you can’t do anything for yourself.

    Also, my dad got out of his recliner one day shortly before their 25th anniversary and said his knee hurt.  Hobbled around for hours and finally they went to the dr.  Turns out he’d broken the cartilage in his knee and fragments were now in the joint.  Happy 25th Anniversary honey let’s not go to Hawaii.  We’ll go to surgery instead.

  • Tenessa

    I have to say, you may have doubted her but you took her to the doctor and a specialist, so don’t feel too guilty.

    As a mother of kids with sensory issues, I totally understand. My sons, the youngest in particular, don’t feel pain and my daughter is so attuned to every nuance of her body that every, not quite right, thing causes severe distress and a great deal of demonstrative whining.

  • Cindy

    Wow, it sure feels good to be not alone with this kind of thing. My firstborn also screamed and cried quite a bit and newbie, YOUNG, parent that I was…..I just cried along with her. Then my grandmother informed me that a fussy crying baby who pulls or rubs their ears usually has an ear infection. By the time I took her to the dr, the ear drum burst which is common. BUT THEN the dead skin cells that we shed continuously and naturally can fall into a burst ear drum and eventually grow into a cholesteatoma. So many surgeries later, the kid still has hearing loss. Epic fail.

    The secondborn presented with a rash at 7 years old or so. I put some antihistamine cream on it and forgot it. Until a few days later, the rash is worse and my best friend told me she thought her middle child (who recently visited me) had scabies. I freaked out and tried every home remedy I could think of on the “rash/scabies”. Including vinegar even though he screamed like a banshee when I put it on. When I got him to the doctor, it turned out he had eczema. Whoops. He won’t let me put vinegar on any part of his body to this day. Oatmeal baths are great tho.

  • yasmara

    I missed whooping cough in my kid. To be fair, this was before some of the more recent, highly publicized outbreaks and he had been FULLY VACCINATED on schedule! Vaccinated! He seemed like he had a bad cold, but the cough just wouldn’t go away. I thought he’d developed asthma & might need an inhaler. Our pediatrician took one listen of my description of his cough and immediately realized it was pertussis. Health department notified, entire family quarantined and treated. Oh…and he’d been to a family wedding in Chicago with us so we traveled on a plane twice! The same week we were in urgent care for our younger son, who really seemed sick, and he was diagnosed with H1N1 influenza. Have I mentioned my husband was in Argentina on a business trip during all of this? Good times. 

  • Anne

    My 10 year old daughter was fooling around at soccer camp, balancing on a soccer ball. She fell onto the ground. The soccer camp called me to pick her up because she wouldn’t stop crying. Of course, this was the afternoon we had a beach trip with another family planned. I figured my daughter was just being a little dramatic. We pick her up, she tells me her neck hurts. I tell her to get in the car. She continues crying. My friend suggests taking her to the doctor. We end up in the Urgent Care where previously it’s taken me two hours to be seen when I’ve been bleeding from the head. Urgent Care immediately puts my daughter in an exam room. The doctor comes in, looks at my daughter (who is holding her head tilted at an angle because her neck hurts), and immediately calls for a back board. He and two nurses were on the floor strapping her to the back board and asking her “Can you feel your toes, Sweetie?” I was standing in a corner realizing she could have a serious spinal injury, which I could have just made worse by putting her in the back of my minivan. Happy ending: it turns out she just had a sprained neck (essentially, whiplash from falling off a soccer ball, what the heck) and was OK after two days in the hospital. Lesson learned: if a child is complaining about a neck injury, call 911 (this is what the soccer camp should have done in the first place). One of the worst moments of my life. Mir, you are not alone.

  • Reb

    I’m late to this party, but earlier this year I hurt my foot in a hole while mowing our lawn. Iced it for a couple of hours, then finished the mowing and spent the weekend hobbling round doing heaps. Didn’t get it checked for 5 days.

    Turns out you can still hobble with a broken foot and horribly sprained ligaments. Who knew? And I’m in my 40s.

  • Angela

    I was going to help a friend of mine run some errands and my 11 year old son didn’t really want to go. We get to her house and he fell getting out of my SUV. Immediately started complaining about his ankle. Me, already being annoyed, told him to walk it off, he was fine. His ankle ballooned up so big he couldn’t wear his shoes for a couple of days. Turns out he had sprained it when he fell.