It’s my fault my brother’s dying
He was trying bravely not to cry. That was a task too great for a five year old boy with a broken leg. A boy who had just been struck by a car. So he gave in to the pain and fear and cried.
There was a lot more pain in the ambulance than the boy’s. His brother, only eight years old himself, was to blame for all this. Of course he wasn’t but he believed he was. He had been entrusted to escort his little brother across the road to go to school. When a break in traffic appeared, he had made his move and quickly crossed. Too late he realised his little brother hadn’t followed. Scared, he had stood rooted firmly.
Now they stood separated, on opposite sides of the road. Only there was one panicked five year old boy on the wrong side. The elder brother waved for him to remain there. The younger brother ran toward the only safe place in the whole world that he could see; beside his waving brother.
He didn’t make it.
Now he was in the ambulance, his thigh swollen and broken. The look on the older boy’s face was beyond troubled. He was mortified. I assured him his brother would be okay. He wasn’t convinced, not even a little. He pleaded with his brother to be okay. He was sorry; over and over he was sorry. Each time I told him just as unconvincingly that he wasn’t to blame.
He needed to be distracted away to somewhere better.
“I need your help. Can you help me?” The older boy looked up at me with no idea what I meant. “Your brother will be okay, but I need to you to help me. Can you help me make him better again?”
I held his eyes firmly with mine. He had no idea what he was to do but he nodded through his tears that he could. His brother was crying again and the eye contact was lost. I pulled him back.
“I think we need to give him some medicine to help make his pain better. Do you think we should do that?”
He nodded yes.
“What is your name and your brother’s name?”
Even simple questions forced him to think. He frowned. “I’m Michael,” he mumbled. “My brother is Ben.”
“Can you hold Ben’s hand for me Michael?” I paused to lock our eyes again. “Tell him we are going to make the pain better?” His voice lacked assurance but he did as he was asked. He told his brother the pain would soon go away. His brother believed him. As far as the little boy was concerned his brother still meant the only safe place in the world right now.
Michael turned back for his next instruction. I nodded slowly, earnestly speaking again.
“We have to give Ben an injection Michael. Can you ask him to let us do that?”
The older boy asked. The younger brother nodded apprehensively. Likely he wasn’t so sure about this but his brother was asking him to and he trusted his brother.
So we went on. The boy asked his brother to sit still whilst the IV needle was inserted. Michael held his hand and explained to him that we were taking him to hospital for a doctor to fix his leg. Each time I asked the older brother to do something for me, each time the younger boy held on the words.
“Do you think he needs some more medicine for his pain?” I asked the older brother. It was plain to see from the younger boy’s face that he did. “You ask him and tell me.” He asked and the younger boy nodded that he did. Intently he turned back to me and said that we should give him more medicine. Again I nodded to him.
And so along we went. As we entered the hospital driveway there was one more instruction for Michael.
“I still need your help. Somebody has to tell the doctor what happened so that they know how to fix his leg. Can you tell them what happened for me? Then they can make your brother better.”
He nodded fervently. Then he did just that. Inside the emergency department we were given priority. The doctor who approached raised an eyebrow as Michael spoke then caught on quickly. He knelt down and listened as the older brother told him what had happened. He nodded as he heard from the boy that we had given his brother medicine for his broken leg pain and that his brother was feeling a bit better now. Then he told the doctor that he needed to fix his brother’s leg now. He nodded and said he would.
Jeff Kenneally www.prehemt.com