Injuries and Imagination

At sixteen, my son has experienced a work related injury. Of course, you might have to use your imagination to call tripping up the stairs on one’s oversized teenage feet a “work-related injury.” In this case, he was carrying a heavy container, which he proceeded to drop on his hand, thereby causing the injury.

When he first texted me from work, “I am injured. They are sending me home at 2. Please be here at 2,” I panicked, and immediately lost my appetite for the bagel chips on which I was munching.

I texted back, “Injured?” I received no reply. It was 1:15. My overactive imagination went to work. I conjured images of blood, burns, compound fractures, a concussion. My head held bloody pictures from horror movies and my worst nightmares. I felt sick to my stomach, and the partially digested bagel chips rose in my throat.

I took a deep breath. No, I convinced myself. If he were badly injured, they would send him home right away. I calmed my beating heart with a few more deep breaths, and I swallowed hard to send the lump of bagel chips back toward my stomach.

The minutes ticked by slowly, loudly, as I played and re-played the mommy panic in my head; I calmed myself, but quickly started the panic cycle over again.

When I finally arrived in the parking lot of his work, I texted. “Do I need to come in?”

“No,” came the reply. “I’ll be right out.” More long moments before the door opened and he emerged. His hand was wrapped in a towel; a plastic bag of ice resting on top dripped as he approached. His finger was covered in a band-aid that needed changing. He was walking, talking, and held the slightest hint of an embarrassed smile in his eyes.

I let out a breath and realized I had been holding it in since he texted me. My boy was in one piece. One. A walking, talking whole.

He got in the car, looked at me, and I didn’t even ask before he started in on his story. He tripped going up the stairs, dropped a heavy box on his hand, and the rest, as they say, is history. He told the supervisor he would stay, but she sent him home. He sustained a nasty bruise and some swelling, but he had full range of motion; as long as no one touched his hand, he was fine. I was more than happy to monitor the swelling and pain.

The following morning—the Monday after Christmas vacation—I woke him for school. I asked him how it felt, to find out if his hand hurt excessively, or if it had stiffened up overnight. If it had, I figured we would have it checked out. His response was the classic teenage response.

“It hurts, Mom. I think I’ll have to take another the week off from school….” Ha! That settles it: he’s fine!

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