Figuring Out Fatherhood: My Son's Broken Arm

30/07/2013 14:37 | Updated 22 May 2015

I'm at work when my mobile rings. It's my wife. (Again.)

"Just to let you know that I'm going to take Noah down to A&E," she says, concerned. "He's just fallen off the slide and seems in a lot of pain."

I say something (probably) romantic and hang up. I'm not too worried: Noah's always been one of those kids who runs into things, or over things, or through things, but he always gets back up afterwards (and usually smacks whatever it is that knocked him down in the first place).

After four hours, my wife calls again. Her voice is tinged with worry and mild irritation.

"He's broken his arm," she confirms. "It's quite nasty, apparently, and near his shoulder so they can't put it in a cast."


Noah is sent home with half a bottle of morphine and a sling which is about as sturdy as a piece of tissue paper. He's had so many painkillers he's as high as a kite, singing some kind of strange fusion of two One Direction songs, and - because he's a three-year-old child - he's running around, bumping into things with his one useless arm. After each collision he stops, winces, and then carries on, because he's a boy and boys are a bit stupid.


That night the morphine wears off and he's screaming in pain, and so we take him back to the hospital the next day to demand something with more protection than a sling.

Arguing with doctors is difficult. You have to trust that they know what they're doing, because of all the training and whatnot, but at the same time you can see that your child is in pain and a daft little foam sling is going to do very little to heal his broken arm. Weigh this against trying not to look like a pushy parent, and you've got yourself a one-armed juggling act.

There's also the added dimension of Noah being so annoyingly happy most of the time, despite the fact that his humerus is in two pieces. Whether it's the effects of the morphine or the fact that he's just taking it all in his stride, it's not helping when a doctor is assessing how much pain he's in and he responds by yelling random words and grinning like a maniac.

"Stop it, Noah, you're supposed to be in pain," we mutter through gritted teeth, but it's no use - again, we're sent home with nothing more than a slightly better sling and another ziplock bag of painkillers and assorted syringes.

He's now an old-woman magnet, looking at them with forlorn eyes as they shuffle towards him, coochy-cooing him under the chin and asking how he's hurt himself.

"My arm is broken," he pouts, wringing as much sympathy as he can out of the pensioners in the hope of a sweet or something.

And he's still banging into things, falling over, and unable to realise that he can't be as boisterous as he used to be now he's only got the one functional arm for the next four to six weeks. He's off the morphine, thankfully, but trying to dull the pain of a broken bone by squirting Calpol into his mouth is like trying to put out a forest fire by peeing on it.

Ah, the joys of being a parent. Still, at least I might have a chance at beating him in an arm wrestle now.


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