About ten days ago, I went to pick my son up from Fencing and he was sitting at the side, white and shaking with his leg propped up. He wouldn’t put any weight on the injured leg, so I carried him home and then took him to Accident and Emergency.
The doctor who saw him manipulated his leg and chatted to him. He winced when she moved it, but told her it didn’t hurt too much. She suggested that it didn’t really hurt all that much at all, that he was mainly scared it was going to hurt, and he agreed.
He agreed, and she spent the rest of the time demonstrating to us that he wasn’t really injured, and it was exaggeration. She even got him to stand on the foot.
We went home, and he wouldn’t put any weight on the leg. The next day, he wouldn’t even get out of bed. He was always cold, and when he accidentally put weight on his foot, he screamed.
I phoned our doctor, who told us we wouldn’t expect to see any change overnight, and that he might be better the day after, and he was — he was up, and hopping around on his good foot. But he still wouldn’t put weight on the sore leg.
When we took him back to A&E that evening, it was mainly because we were worried he was going to fall if he insisted on hopping everywhere, and we were hoping they’d give us crutches, but this time we saw a nurse and she sent him for an X-ray.
And guess what? He’d broken the leg.
It’s not a major break — it’s a small fracture of the femur, called a “buckle” fracture because the bone bends instead of breaking. He’s in a thigh to ankle cast and he’s got crutches and is feeling much better.
He agreed with the first doctor when she told him it was in his head, because he has been brought up to agree with adults, especially adults in positions of authority, because he is (thankfully, often) a polite child and he didn’t like to contradict someone who seemed so certain.
I rarely berate myself for teaching my children to respect and defer to adults, but it seems I need to. And I would never have guessed that my articulate seven-year-old would be so vulnerable to adult suggestion.