A fall on the playground lands student in whole new world

     That was a terrible day – the day I had my arm broken.

     The story is like this: It was recess time at the Cunniff School. When my class got down to the playground, I climbed on the monkey bar and sat on it. When I was climbing, I saw Adalis and Nina doing a flip on the bar and turning five times.

     That’s where the mistake began.

     As it looked so easy, I asked them to teach me do that. Adalis and Nina agreed, so Adalis showed me how to do it by performing slower. Then it was my turn. I did it like she said. But when I was trying to do a flip, I was scared. So when it came to midway, I came tumbling down.

     I felt so horrible. I stayed there until Adalis noticed me and asked, “Are you OK?”

     Then I heard someone call for Mrs. Munger, my teacher. She asked me if I could sit up. I couldn’t. So she called the nurse, Mrs. Nancy.

     Mrs. Nancy helped me sit up and I walked with her, though I felt a lot of pain. Mrs. Nancy thought that my arm wasn’t broken because I didn’t cry and scream.

     When we reached the nurse’s room, I was told to lie on the bed. It took time for my left arm to straighten out. She gave me ice pads, which made me more comfortable, but it stinged when the ice pad touched my elbow.

     She asked me if I wanted to stay in school or go home. I said that I wanted to go home. So she made a 

phone call to my mother. Thirty minutes later, my mom came and picked up both my brother and me and took us back home.

     Mrs. Nancy suggested that we should stop by Doctor Express to check the X-ray.

     When we get out of the school, I knew that my mom was going to say, “I told you a lot of times and you didn’t listen to me.” And I was right.

     We went to the Doctor Express around 1:30 p.m. After the X-ray, the doctor knew that my arm was bone was broken, so she recommended that we go to Boston Children’s Hospital immediately, and she kindly made an appointment for us at 3:15 p.m.

     I knew it was very serious because my mom experienced a broken arm when she was small, which consequently made her arm not be able to straighten out normally.  

In the hospital

     The hospital was very big and clean. My mom said that it was one of the leading children’s hospitals in the United States.

     We got to the waiting room on second floor, then my mom went to the front desk to check in while my brother and I sat down to watch TV. After 10 minutes, we met a nurse. She had long grey hair. She looked friendly. She wore a white blouse with logo of the hospital and Harvard University, which showed that this was a Harvard teaching hospital.

     She asked me to tell her the story of my accident. Then she touched my arm and told me scream if it hurt. Actually, my whole arm hurt. She also asked me to move my fingers and make a zero with my thumb and index finger a zero. I could do it. Then she looked carefully into our previous X-ray and told us that the X-ray we made at Doctor Express didn’t provide enough information, so we would need to do it again. Mom paid $149 for it!

     The hospital was as big as the labyrinth created by Daedalus, which made us get lost. But there was no minotaur, just hospital staff so we quickly found the X-ray office.

     The X-ray room had two chairs, a long table, and a big X-ray machine. Another nurse took a lot of X-ray pictures, which immediately showed up in the computer and sent to the bone doctor via the internet.

     Now we knew that my arm was broken and I was going to need surgery the next day at around 11 a.m.     


     When we came back home, I was so worried and I had a lot of questions in my mind.

     I asked my mom if it would hurt. Mom answered that she didn’t really know. After that, I had trouble with left arm moving because it hurt so much when I was eating and brushing my teeth before going to bed.

     I fell asleep quickly, but in the middle of the night I woke up because I was thirsty and my arm was uncomfortable. Then I fell asleep again until morning.

     We were leaving home for the hospital early in the morning when Mom got a phone call from the hospital. Very bad news! Our insurance was only going to cover a very small part of the expenses.

     Mom was very surprised and worried because this information was much different from the information she received from the insurance company the day before. We didn’t know exactly how much it was going to cost, we just knew that it was going to be a lot and it was our responsibility.

     After many phone calls back and forth, Mom decided to take me to the hospital for the surgery.

     We arrived at 10:30 a.m. and ended up in the surgery waiting room. It was a very clean and nice area. We had time to watch Disney Channel, which made me so happy that I forgot my pain. Mom also read the adventure of Karik and Valya for us. Then it was time for the surgery.

     I heard the doctor say to Mom that two situations could happen. The best case was that my bones were only dislocated, so they only needed to push it over a little bit to put everything rightl, which would take only about 20 minutes. In the other case, they would need to cut the bone to do the operation and then I would need to stay one night in the hospital.

     I was very anxious and I kept asking the doctors whether it was going to hurt or not. But then I was told that I was going to sleep while they were doing the surgery.

     There were many specialists involved in the treatments, including bone doctors, anesthetist, and many others. I was asked to choose a favorite smell when falling asleep, so I chose a banana candy smell of anesthetic.

     After the mask was put on my nose, I took some breaths and slept immediately. When I woke up, I found that I was lucky and the surgery only took 20 minutes.

Nice hospital, but expensive health care 

     I was happy to have my treatment in Boston Children’s Hospital. It is big, nice, and clean and fully equipped with modern equipments and machines.

     Everybody I met was very friendly, polite, and respectful. People always smiled and spoke gently. Doctors and nurses were highly skilled and open. In contrast in Vietnam, the hospitals are probably not as big and clean.

     Hospitals there are overcrowded with patients. There are a lot of patients and their families are usually sitting on the hall floor.

     But the good thing in Vietnam is the health care cost is affordable. To compare, I interviewed a doctor in the Central Children Hospital in Hanoi and was told that my injury needed a simple treatment that normally cost $50, but the Boston Children’s Hospital charged us $13,000 for the treatment, or 260 times higher than that in Vietnam.

     We had insurance, but the company said it only covered a very small part of the health-care cost.

     Mom was so confused with their different answers. She thought the coverage package was clear in the contract, but it turned out that it was not easy to get what we thought we should receive.

     The reality is far from what the insurance company wrote to us the day we bought the insurance policies: “As a valued member, you can enjoy peace of mind knowing that if an emergency occurs, experienced assistance is only a phone call away.”

     Mom thought she would be in debt for a few years. We were very worried about it. I even thought it was a nightmare and I would wake up. We lived in panic until one day the school nurse told Mom that the school’s insurance would cover the cost because this accident happened at school.

    This experience was a very serious lesson for me. I will never dare to do anything without learning it thoroughly first.

–Jan. 5, 2015–