Last time Kadin hurt his arm, about a year-and-a-half ago, it was Saturday night. We didn't have a car and had just signed up for our insurance the day before. I called various numbers, was told by some endless voice in the voice-mail cue that urgent care was in a town about 15 miles away. Visions of spending a fortune not only on the emergency room but also on a taxi floated through my head. Finally, I got a real insurance person on the phone who told me what insurance number to use and that I could go to the hospital about a mile down the road. That seemed sensible and do-able.
About six hours after the accident I called a taxi and Kadin sat calmly in the back with me saying, "I am sad, I have an ow in my arm. I went down the yellow slide and now I have an ow." He was like this all through the check-in procedure, but when we got back to a room to see a doctor, he saw the table full of toys and started playing. By the time the doctor arrived, he was a normal, happy, playing three-year-old. The doctor said we could get x-rays, but there was probably not much point as the treatment would be much the same. He was using his arm and seemed to be recovering. We took the bus home.
I was glad he was better, but when the bill arrived, I vowed to be more careful in the future. Next time, I said to myself, the bone would have to be sticking out or dramtically misaligned before I would go to the emergency room again. I went though, I knew, because I would be forever haunted if I found I could have done something, but didn't. As it was, it was all fine, just a bit of a shock to the pocketbook after our free healthcare in England.
So when Kadin fell two nights ago and hurt his arm just after we had changed insurance plans and doctors again, we gave him some ibuprofen and an ice pack and bundled him off to bed to see how it would be in the morning. It seemed a little better, but he still wasn't using his arm. The next day was the same. It was tedious as he was in a foul mood and needed a lot of attention, but nothing seemed especially swollen or out of place. Lately he's been making a big deal out of the smallest of cuts and bruises, so we offer sympathy, but reserve judgement as it is hard to tell what is up.
By this afternoon, when there still wasn't much improvement, we had to make the decision about whether to go the emergency room. I called his new doctor and they suggested that it was time to get it seen at the hospital. We had made plans to meet Greg's sister for dinner at the Boulder Farmer's Market, so I thought we'd make the decision over dinner and then go in to the hospital if necessary.
Before dinner, Kadin was running around on an outdoor stage with Rees and using his good arm to balance on pillars. Is this the behavior of a kid with a broken arm? Not clear. He was pretty miserable throughout dinner, but maybe that was the wind? Greg and I agreed that, while we would hate to pay a lot of money for nothing, it was probably best just to be sure. Again, I would hate myself if I could have and should have done something for him and didn't just because I was a cheapskate. And then there was the thought that I hoped he would be fine and that we would discover we really needn't have gone to the emergency room. I realized that either way, there was a good chance that I would feel guilty and/or regret my decision.
After dinner, as I was disposing of my napkin at the typically Boulder "Zero Waste Site," I was trying to decide which of the two containers of Zero Waste my napkin belonged in. Nearby, a woman with a stroller chided, "Which is it? Don't get it wrong!" We joked about that all-too-familiar compost guilt you have in Boulder. "Yeah, I've just messed up the compost AND I'm not even the perfect mother." We walked Greg's sister to her car, invited her to hang out at the emergency room with us (she politely declined), and just as we were getting back to our car we saw a woman with a sling on her left arm. "It's a sign." I said to Greg.
About forty-five minutes and three x-rays later, with Kadin recounting the story of "falling off of James, a horse" (often failing to mention that James is a ROCKING horse), it was confirmed that Kadin had in fact broken his arm. Poor guy. And it was confirmed that we didn't waste a trip to the emergency room. But, alas, it was also confirmed that we made him suffer a full 48 hours before taking him in to the hospital. As predicted, there was no escaping the guilt. Next time, I'm thinking a compromise, maybe 24 hours, will suffice. You just can't win.