how bad?

Ed note: The following story is somewhat edited / abbreviated lest this post be reeeeeeally long and drag in a bunch of stuff that needn’t be dragged in. You’re welcome. 



I pick up the phone on my desk at work. It’s Katie. She is crying.

“Mama, it’s me. I’m at the pool with E and I jumped in and I hurt my foot and I really need you to come get me.”

I can hear her discomfort through the phone. Less the pain than the “This situation sucks and I don’t really know the grown-ups here very well and I really want my mom.”

I ask if she thinks it’s serious. She says she thinks so. I ask to speak with E’s Dad.

“Hi there.” I say. Thanks so much for taking care of her. Any chance you can tell if this is um, well, maybe a little bit of ten year-old drama perhaps or if she really got hurt badly?”

He says he has no idea and offers to send me a picture of her foot.




I thank him and tell him I’m going to try to get hold of Luau who is only ten minutes away. I tell him I’ll call back.

I try Luau but can’t get him.

I call back and ask to speak with Katie again.

She is still crying. I tell her I’m on my way.


We thank E’s dad profusely and hobble together out to the car.

I take a good, hard look at Katie’s foot but I see a whole lot of nothing. It’s maybe a teeny weeny bit swollen (I think), mildly bruised (or is that just the light?) and a little red (which I’m assuming is from the ice).

I bite back a wave of something between frustration and anger. I left work for this? Seriously? We were shorthanded. Leaving was a big deal. A really big deal. I — I take a deep breath and say what I’m thinking.

“Listen, babe. I’ve got to be honest. I don’t think it looks that bad. I’m not saying that it doesn’t hurt. I understand that it really does. I really, really do. Bruises on the bone like that can be awful. But I think we should go home and put it up with some ice and see how you feel in a little while.”

Katie isn’t buying it. “Mama,” she says, “I had ice on it for forty-five minutes. It still hurts just as much as it did before. I think we should go to the hospital. I hope they tell us there’s nothing wrong. And if they do, then you can cream me with I told you so’s. But I think we should go.”


I’m not much older than Katie. I’m lying down on the floor in the gym. I’ve just fallen off the balance beam in epic fashion. Mid back flip, upside down, my shin met the beam with a nauseating thwack. The pain is blinding.

I’m listening to the adults talk above my head. I hear my dad ask, “How bad is it?” The team trainer answers,”Oh, she’ll be fine. Just gonna be a nasty bruise in the morning. Keep it elevated and put some ice on it overnight.”

My dad crouches down to me on the floor. “How bad?” he asks.

“Daddy, it KILLS,” I answer through tears. 

He takes me straight to the ER. Within hours I am in a full leg cast with a broken tibia. My dad never doubted me.


I don’t ask again.

I drive my girl to the hospital.

As the doctor announces that she has broken not just one bone in her foot but more likely two, Katie looks at me and says, “So much for the creaming me with I told you so’s.”




Leave it to Katie to ask the gentleman in the casting room if perhaps he wouldn’t mind doing stripes. You wear it well, kiddo. You wear it well. 




26 thoughts on “how bad?

  1. I love how you interweaved the two stories, both well told, and showed how your dad parented you and you parented Katie. How bad is a viable question. I have a very very sensory sensitive child, and it would take a lot for me to believe her pain level was bad enough for an ER visit. Your two stories make me stop and consider that I should show her that I believe her when she tells me it’s that bad.

    The cast looks awesome 🙂

  2. Oh Jess! I so know how you feel! My son was using his ripstick on our garage floor and I had locked him out in a “America’s Funniest Home Video” way so that he would dance to come back in…refused to dance and went back to the ripstick. Then there was BANGING on the door. He claiming he hurt his wrist. Me assuming he was just trying to get in without dancing. LOOOOOONNNNGGGGG story short, he went to bed with ice on the wrist and woke up with what looked like a tennis ball stuck under the skin. Took him to the ER and geuss what? Yes, broken. <<<>>> this cost me a co-pay and a very expensive trip to Game Stop.
    You did good Mama! As Roseanne Roseannadanna said, “It just goes to show ya! It’s always somethin’!”

  3. And this is one of the coolest things, to me, about parenting. We can take either good or bad experiences we had as kids and apply them with our own. Your experience, which could have gone so wrong, ended up teaching you something meaningful about the way your parents listened to you…and you took that moment and carried it over years later with Katie. Hope she’s feeling better!

  4. L. sends her love and says she’s sorry that that happened to K., but she really digs the cast!
    Please let us know if we can help in anyway!!! xoxo

  5. Love the stripes!! So sorry she got hurt! Glad you listened to your gut, and your daughter!! Praying she heals quickly…sending you prayers and energy!

  6. Katie continues to be a fashionista in her stripes!! Hope she feels better soon!! At least she’ll have a great story for her return to school!!

  7. LOVE the stripes! Getting those things off is a vibrating ‘saw’ sensory nightmare, so leave Brooke at home (I speak from experience……it wasn’t pretty). Katie will do fine, most kids think it tickles 😉

  8. Oh man, broken bones are no joke. I too go with the “if they ask, we go” when it comes to the hospital. They know, and I haven’t yet been disappointed with their self-awareness. Hugs to Katie. I hope she feels better soon.

  9. Even as an adult, I would have a really hard time asking for what I knew I needed like that with someone visibly doubting me, especially If I was already stressed and in pain. What an amazing person she is, and you too!

  10. Hey Jess … my OrcaGirl wants to send Katie a note: hey Katie it’s me. I’m sorry you broke your foot. man, that must hurt BAD. by the way, keep writing on your blog! I hope you are reading my posts! I hope your foot gets better soon. also, how long do you have to wear the cast and crutches?

  11. I think that’s why we go through all that we do, to become better parents. Hope Katie heals quickly, and you are an awesome mom 🙂

  12. oh that poor kiddo! i hope she recovers quickly, is able to stay comfortable, inuries like that can be a real hassle.

    get well super quick, katie.

  13. Katie so rocks those stripes. And good for you for remembering to really listen to her, and taking her right to the hospital. That is one wise girl you have there. (And one great Dad you’ve got, too.)

    My big fear with Jacob is that due to his autism he can’t tell us how much he hurts or what happened if he gets hurt. So far we’ve been lucky (knock on wood) there have been no real injuries, just a mystery bruise or two. Ethan is like your Katie – he advocates for himself just fine. Sigh.

    I wish her speedy and pain-free healing

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