This time, he passed the barrier of pain

Are We There Yet?

Lori Clinch

My 12-year-old, Huey, has an inconceivably high tolerance for pain. He certainly doesn’t get it from me. I’ve been known to cry over a paper cut. I’ve fainted with pain from a hangnail, and I could easily pass out from writer’s cramps.

Huey takes his injuries in stride. In fact, just last week he followed me around the kitchen and invited me to admire his jump shot as he dripped blood on the linoleum. I watched him with intrigue and wondered to myself how he could suffer such an injury without losing consciousness.

“What did you do to yourself?” I inquired.

“I don’t know,” he replied nonchalantly, “but can you take me to the mall? I really need new basketball shoes.”

“Forget basketball. How did you slice your knee open?”

“I don’t know. Can we buy me some armbands while we’re there? Those would really help me get my game on.”

“Honey, would you please focus?”

“All right, but if you’re going to ask me to do chores, I’ll tell you this, they have child-labor laws in this state and you have violated each and every one of them.”

“I am not talking about chores, I’m talking about your wound and incessant bleeding.”

“Oh that,” he said, looking down. “I don’t know how I did that.”

It just slayed me. I would have known the place, date and time before I sought medical attention, and put myself down for a week’s vacation. But that’s the way he is.

So when the little dear came home from school last Thursday, I certainly wasn’t expecting a crisis of any sort. I thought the most exciting thing that would happen to me was my indulgence in a zesty, pepper-jack cheese extravaganza on a low-carb tortilla. I certainly hadn’t anticipated an emergency appendectomy for poor Huey.

The stomachache seemed mild to begin with and then quickly led to a loud scream. Although the child has a pain threshold similar to Rambo’s, he can scream like a banshee. Being used to screams, I didn’t panic at first; I simply tilted my head to the left and analyzed it. I was listening for shock value and depth to determine if this was one of the “he said I’m a girl” screams, or the infamous “I’m telling Mom!” screech.

Since it was neither, I ran to his side for an assessment. “Does it hurt much? Do you feel like throwing up?” Then I quickly moved on to “Are you sure this pain is real because at today’s insurance prices, we can’t afford to pay for any pain that’s not real.”

Heaven knows a trip to the doctor’s office is enough to make the checkbook turn its head and cough, much less a thorough examination, which requires a second mortgage, a Visa Gold Card, and if you can spare it, a gallon of blood.

I called my dear friend, Eunice, who is a health-care professional, to get her take on things.

“Is he rebounding?” she asked.

“Heavens no. He’s in too much pain to play basketball.”

“No, silly, rebounding is a reaction to pain.”

Leave it to that kid to tie appendicitis into sports.

As we strolled into the hospital to have him checked out, Huey reacted like a comedian with an iron-clad demeanor. “You know,” he said as we approached admissions, “I’m only here for the ice cream.”

It wasn’t long before the radiation department had him drinking a cleverly devised concoction that tasted like a combination of rancid acid and cod liver oil to make his bowels radiate with enough light to brighten a stadium for the NBA finals.

“This stuff smells awful, and it tastes even worse!” said poor Huey as he tried to gag it down. “I feel like I’m on ‘Fear Factor.’

“The technician said you have to drink it all before you can have the test.”

“You know, Mom, I love you as much as Michael Jordan loves a game-winning jump shot. And that’s a lot of jump shots. Therefore, you should consider drinking this for me.”

“And pay $700 for a test that would be inconclusive? I don’t think so.”

“Michael Jordan’s mother would do it.”

“Michael Jordan probably bought his mother a new Cadillac.”

Before long the radiology technician told us this was indeed appendicitis, and we were taken to a room to await surgery.

“Do you know what we plan to do for you during your surgery, Huey?” asked the nurse who was about to take him to the operating room.

“You bet,” Huey said with a smile, “you’re going to make me into an NBA star.”

She looked at me perplexed and asked, “Is he kidding?”

“No, but he’s on the right track. He’s rebounding, ya know.”

Lori Clinch is the mother of four sons and the author of the book “Are We There Yet?” Her e-mail address is