The Priluck Flaming Swing of Death

This incident happened two years ago, today. I’ve patiently waited for enough time to pass as to not embarrass Justin. (He has read this and approved it.) Everyone is entitled to a bad day from time to time. Justin decided to compile all his bad days into one. And, it just so happened that all of this occurred while GWE was out of town for a week on a business trip. Here is what happened:

Justin and Garrett had just begun classes at a new school. Both were very excited about the new opportunities that lay ahead, but both were having some challenges. Garrett had gotten into a few physical altercations with his new classmates and Justin was trying to make a name for himself in a grade full of students who’d all known each other for since kindergarten.  

On a Tuesday afternoon, I received a call from the school. Garrett had been too disruptive in class again and they ‘encouraged’ me to come and get him. It was a busy workday, but I knew my mother-in-law would be in the area in a few hours to help. I was about to grab my keys and head for the door when the school called again.

“Hello?” I asked.

“Hi, this is….” I cut the person off because I thought I knew why they were calling. I responded abruptly with, “Yes, yes, I’m coming to get him. I need more that 5 minutes to get there.”

“Oh. Ok.” There was a pause. “Well, we’re in the nurses’ station when you get here.” I was confused. “Why is Garrett in the nursing station?”

“Garrett? I’m not calling about Garrett. I’m calling you about Justin. You need to come and get him.”

Now, I was totally confused. Did I need to pick up Garrett or Justin or both Justin and Garrett??? What the hell was going on?

I raced to the school, hopped out of the car, and dashed to the nursing station. My mother-in-law was already there, looking incredibly concerned. As I stepped into the room, I discovered Justin sitting in a wheelchair. He was cradling his arm, the nose looked like it had been mashed to one side, and there was blood. Blood on his lip, blood on his shirt, and bloody tissues everywhere. He looked miserable, in shock, and in pain.

The nurse on call told me that he had an accident. (Really?? Do tell!) She was unclear on the circumstances of what happened, but he clearly needed more medical treatment than a few band-aids and a Tylenol. She gave me the address to a pediatric urgent care. I asked my mother-in-law to take Garrett with her so I could take Justin with me.

That wasn’t the nose he was wearing when he left for school that morning.

We ‘wheeled’ him to my car and then he and I left for the doctor’s office. I think the initial shock of what happened wore off in the car because Justin (who was slightly comatose back in the nursing station) started to come to life. The pain had begun, and he was starting to feel it. The more uncomfortable he got, the faster I went.

I think it was at this point that I called GWE to inform her that her son had been broken. I give her credit. She did not panic…out loud. She knew it was under control and being 3000 miles away was going to limit her ability to help. We just needed to get him assessed as quickly as possible. The meltdowns could wait.

When we got to the urgent care, they rushed him in for an x-ray. The doctors confirmed that he had broken his wrist and they referred me to a Sports Orthopedist. They also examined his nose but did not have the ability to x-ray his head (which I assured him was empty, but he was having none of my humor.) Their guess was that he had broken the septum in his nose.  They referred me to an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist. I set an appointment for the following morning.

Those x-ray glasses you can order from the back of comic books really do work!

The ENT quickly assessed that he did break his septum and that he would need a minor surgery to fix the blockage. Interestingly, the ENT also had an emotional support dog in their office. Did the dog go and support Justin – the patient? No. Instead, the dog felt as though I was in more need of emotional support than the damaged boy sitting across from me. He laid his head in my lap and pitied me. Or, he smelled bacon.

Over the course of the next few days, GWE got home, Justin got his arm wrapped in a cast, and he was scheduled and prepped for surgery. I spent about 20 minutes with him in pre-op talking about everything except what was about to happen. He talked about Yo-Kai and Nintendo….and then the drugs did their job and he was out.

GWE and I met him in post-op. He was heavily sedated, but slowly coming back to consciousness. At one point, he looked up at us and loudly proclaimed, “FFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUU….” Concerned, GWE and I thought he was about to blurt out a very bad word, but it was too late, “….UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUDDDGE!” Yes – his first word was “Fudge.” Whew!

He lives!!!

It took a few days, but Justin finally returned to school. He had a cast on his arm (which I fitted with Velcro so he could attach his Yo-Kai watch) and a cast glued to his nose. For a kid who no one knew on a Tuesday, he was certainly a celebrity by the time he returned. Everyone knew his name!

Justin’s recollection of what happened is still a little fuzzy. He was swinging on the school swing set. He thinks that he lost his balance while going backwards and in order to “catch” himself, he put his arm out. His arm slammed into the ground and twisted. And, because his arm wasn’t there to support him, his face hit the ground. Ouch!

Once the dust had cleared, the injuries were tended to, and our collective parental blood pressure had stabilized, I told Justin that we needed something other than medical bills to remember this moment. We needed to memorialize this event with a plaque. I suggested that we should discreetly attach a sign to the bottom of the swing seat designating it, “The Priluck Flaming Swing of Death.”

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