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To the Mom in the Hospital Waiting Room Who Saw How Terrified My Son Was

Dear Mom Waiting at the Orthopedics Clinic With Her Kids,

It was a hot day. And heat means it’s going to be a rough day for my son, Branko. Summertime breathing was a grueling task due to all the fluid junk in his chest. I showed up in the waiting room, scanning the area for a wall socket I could plug his portable oxygen concentrator (POC) into. You kindly moved over so I could have a closer seat. I’m going to be honest: sometimes people, even parents of sick kids, don’t move over. Thanks for that.

Branko looked terrible that day. In addition to having an oxygen tube and a roaring POC beside him (a sound you never quite get used to), he had a broken femur. He’d broken it the previous week, about a month after his sister was born. We were there to take the soft, temporary cast off and replace it with a fibreglass one. You didn’t notice my daughter at first — she was so tiny back then — and I had tucked her in nice and cozy in the bottom half of our brutally giant double stroller. I may have even run over your foot. Sorry for that.

You didn’t flinch at the sight of Branko. Your two kids, a boy and a girl, didn’t flinch. I immediately sensed that you didn’t feel sorry for us, and I liked that. We started to chat, and you explained that your 4-year old daughter had broken her elbow a few weeks ago. This was a follow-up appointment to see if the break had healed. Today might be that special day the cast comes off! (Spoiler alert: she needed it for a couple more weeks.)

As soon as we mentioned the word “cast,” Branko had a meltdown. You see, this was to be Branko’s sixth cast. Six. Putting a cast on is terrible. He usually has a panic attack, and it takes at least two people to hold him down. But I was there alone that day, and I was panicked about having to do it all by myself. (I did do it. And I rocked.) Both you and your daughter tried to calm Branko down by asking what color he wanted this new cast to be. It didn’t work, but it kept my mind calm for a few moments.

Your daughter’s name was called. You wished me luck, and I remember thinking about how nice you and your kids were. But nothing prepared me for what happened 20 minutes later.

You sent your daughter back into the waiting room to show off her fabulous new purple cast! She went right up to Branko and said, “It doesn’t hurt, and I got to pick the color.” I remember thinking I would never get a chance to thank you, to tell you how awesome you and your kids are. If your goal is to raise kind and sensitive children, then feel free to keep up the good work.

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Follow this journey at Branko Has Funny Bones.

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