It all started with a fall from a treehouse ladder, where his neglectful mother was not paying enough attention because she was enjoying the luxury of adult conversation with a friend. He fell hard on his foot, and complained that it was sore. His neglectful mother gave him a cuddle and told him not to worry. Then she ignored him until her friend pointed out that he was walking on tiptoe, and limping. His neglectful mother thought about the implications of taking him and his two older brothers to Casualty, and decided to wait a bit and see if the limp improved. An hour later - when the toddler came up to her, piteously raising his eyes and saying "ankle sore" - she took him to the doctor, who agreed it was swollen. Off to the X-ray department, where nothing showed up on the X-ray but the doctors felt that a fracture had almost certainly occurred and he was better off in plaster. My eldest chose the colour, a respectable boy-blue.
Three small boys with nothing to do, told to wait for an unspecified amount of time in a strange environment would be a recipe for disaster in almost any family, never mind ones with additional needs. I spent the long waits between X-rays - "oh, we need a second X-ray?" "Do you really?" "Yes." "Fine, but I am going to saw my own leg off if you then say we need a third" - hissing, pleading, bribing and threatening my sons with lifelong incarcaration and NO SWEETIES EVER AGAIN if they wouldn't stop playing with the medical equipment. You know it is bad when you find yourself repeating sotto voce "It doesn't matter, I am not here to impress these people." But we survived, got home in one piece, well except for the broken leg of course.
Then, yesterday, he was limping again. The cast had come off the day before, and he had seemed fine - but when he woke up the next morning, he was limping badly and dragging his leg. "Sore ankle," again. Back we went. This time it was just him and me. Like night and day, as I hugged this beautiful, adorable child with the big blue eyes. And the nurse said she thought I deserved a holiday in Fiji, which is always nice to think about because it's quite cold here today. I felt like a proper, attentive, adoring mother, the kind who looks after their children properly and is able to think up suitable strategies to keep them entertained in the doctor's waiting room. End result: fracture is clearly not healed, back in a cast and referral to orthopedics. He chose a pink one.
When his brother got home from school he saw the pink cast. I had tried to pre-warn him "Your brother chose his own colour. It might not be a colour you like. It is his cast so it is his choice." Nonetheless we had thirty minutes of shouting and sobbing. Boys can't have pink. That is the RULE.
Everyone told me how calm I was about the broken leg/foot. Well, I reserve the right to be stressed and neurotic when it becomes clear that there is a major problem, but at the moment I kind of feel - broken foot - it heals - so what? It's the ongoing issues which are more troublesome, the developmental stuff the doctors can't fix. Should I have insisted on a blue cast, to keep consistency and a calm family? Or was it better to let life challenge the boy, let him be horrified by pink? It's impossible to say. That's why I prefer to be dealing with a broken leg, where the outcome is clear and the decisions straightforward.
Although I am a little worried that one of the doctors described my son's foot injury as "interesting." If it turns out that this is NOT a straightforward fracture I really am going to chop my own arm off. Although hang on, then I'd have to go back to the accident and medical clinic with my sons. Maybe I should just go for the holiday in Fiji. I'm quite hopeful, because I'm still a bit hazy about how medical treatment works here, but what is clear is that accidents are funded very generously through ACC. Maybe I can swing Fiji as a necessary part of the recuperation plan. Just for me and one child, of course, otherwise it would be too much like hard work. I wonder if I can claim on ACC for the trauma of having accidentally chosen a pink cast too?