The “M” Series: Misrepresentation or Mute

A family can move from one country to the next but one element remains consistent. The teenager that left one country is the same teenager that arrives in the next- welcome to another installment of the “M” series – so named for the variety of “M” words that describe the young vermin in this developmental state. In this particular case, misrepresentation, mute, playing mum- all particular to teenager. Offspring #1 has one goal in life – to snowboard. All the time. He jauntily packed his bags and moved to Japan savoring visions of snowboarding the Japanese Alps in Nagano, reveling in the unsurpassed quality of powder in Hokkaido, and escaping to more amazing skiing one hour outside of Tokyo. His one-dimensional vision of Japan drew him in as the moth to a flame. Take that away, and he was left with a move without his friends, his baseball, and a contented life left behind. So, here’s the question- to what lengths would a teenager go to achieve his dreams? Luckily, Spouse has Herculean powers of observation and I have learned a few interrogation techniques under the lamp from CSI sister-in-law Susie. It’s a battle of the Titans.

Roll back the clock to Hakuba, Nagano where Offspring #1 sustained a shoulder injury performing air gymnastics with a snowboard attached to his feet either going over a jump or side of a mountain. We rushed him to the Gold mine – errrr-emergency clinic since one arm was hanging limply at one side to find that he had severely bruised his collarbone. Total cost of the X-ray, one month of medicine and the doctor visit was $120 US dollars. The Japanese medical system is growing on me. The white cotton sling was included.

Three days later, his knuckles still dragging the ground, he was starting to develop a resemblance to a certain huggable Disney hunchback. Something wasn’t right. We needed to establish a loving, long-term relationship with an orthopedist. Another Clampitt had already broken a bone since arriving in Japan- at this rate, we’d require an orthopedist q6 months. Better to keep one on retainer. As usual, the knower of all things provided the necessary recommendation. The Tasmanian Bloodhound had broken her hand the previous year while snowboarding and talking on the phone. The Japanese receptionist downstairs made the phone call,

“Ouisar-san- the doctor will see Offspring #1 whenever you want to go over. Just bring cash.”

Now THAT”S how it should work! No 3 week waiting period, no pesky referral, just bring your money and your kid.

The doctor poked around. “Does this hurt, does this hurt.” OS#1 responded that he felt fine and had little or no pain. Of course he would.

What I knew that the doctor didn’t was this. The school ski trip was 2 days away and Offspring #1 needed the Doctor’s clearance to snowboard. OS#1 was evading. Even though he couldn’t put on his own boots, he would still snowboard if the doctor could be suckered.

A well documented  fact is that 4 yr olds and 14 yr olds share a common trait- misrepresentation of all facts. Justifiable and grounded in some form of truth to them, blatantly not to all others. What my father dismisses as a “Stage.” I tried to allow OS#1 to answer the questions without my assistance, spread his budding wings however, he was purposely leading the naive doctor astray. His answers were of questionable content as to their diagnostic value. Apparently the older generation, of whom were well represented in the waiting room, did not manipulate the doctor as readily for their own dastardly purposes. The doctor had fallen in to OS#1’s blue eyed trap by believing his answers.

“He can’t put on his own shoes, can’t put on a shirt, zip up a jacket.” I interjected. The doctor poked harder. No reaction from the boy who wanted to go on the class trip. It would take a red-hot branding iron to get a rise out of him at this point.

X-ray #2- Diagnosis- bruised collarbone. No visible cracks. No snowboarding for a week. No PE for 2 weeks. Offspring #1 was devastated. Cost of visit, $90. Another great deal and we now had an orthopedist!

Not bad overall. I took he and his friend snowboarding two weeks later as consolation for missing the trip.

So, two days ago, one month after the initial injury- Eagle Eye Spouse happened to notice that Offspring #1 had what looked to be an egg sitting on top of his shoulder, underneath his shirt. I’d love to insert a picture but OS#1 knew it was for the blog and wouldn’t let me near him with the camera. I even counted to 5.

Spouse-      “What’s that?”

OS#1-          “Nothing.” Didn’t even know to what Spouse referred.

Spouse-       “I need to feel that- your shoulder looks really swollen.” Spouse is actually a veterinarian, however, we’ve discovered being a DVM is the equivalent of a being pediatrician. Especially before kids are verbal.

OS#1-           “It’s not swollen” His nose started to grow a few inches in length.

Spouse-       ” Take off your shirt.”

Reluctantly the shirt came off to reveal a large lump on the top of the shoulder. Offspring #1 claimed it to be figment of our imagination.

Back to the clinic. As we were waiting I plotted my two questions. With teenagers, questions must be designed carefully as only two are allowed before the teenager will shut down all communication. Craftiness combined with a strategy needed to be employed. The doctor needed this information but didn’t have the skill required having little experience with determined teenagers.

Ouiser- “On a scale of 1-10 – how bad does your shoulder hurt.”

OS#1 – “0” AHHH! I made a fatal error and wasted a question. He answered as if his shoulder were supposed to hurt all the time- it probably only hurt when upon movement.

Ouiser- “When it hurts, on a scale of 1-10- how bad?”
OS#1 – “7”

I watched him closely- he was engrossed in the snowboard game on the IPhone. I decided to push for a third question.

Ouiser- “The last time it hurt badly, what were you doing?”

OS#1 – “Push ups. No more questions.” Yea- that would do it.

One more X-ray. Where we saw this.

The little white lines in the black space above and below the bone at the top shows new bone growing around a cracked clavicle not seen on the first two X-rays.

He had been snowboarding with a cracked clavicle.

Well, I guess it has been worse. There was the time he had a broken arm for two weeks before I took him to the doctor. He didn’t cry in pain then either. I blame him for that- he should’ve complained more.

I must admit, I am a very satisfied consumer of the Japanese healthcare system- All total, $300 for 3 X-rays, 3 Doctor’s visits, no waiting and same day service.  Excellent medical care-given the location of the crack, and two doctor’s opinions, no one else would have seen it. Maybe a massage while I waited would enhance my patient experience.

Parents, this is the depths to which your teenager will go to achieve the ends for which they seek. Never underestimate the creature known as the teenager. For those of you either raising teenagers or about to, I recommend an owner’s manual for troubleshooting these models. Get Out of My Lifebut First Could You Drive MeCheryl to the Mall: A Parent’s Guide to the New Teenager by Anthony E. Wolf PhD.

We’ll be snowboarding this weekend where Offspring #1 has offered to teach me how to go off a jump.

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19 Responses to The “M” Series: Misrepresentation or Mute

  1. Kathy says:

    Didn’t know the Japanese had such a great healthcare system. I’d have expected a father’s/husband’s signature might have been required at some point in this process, but maybe wives/mothers only lose their power in banking situations.


  2. Tokyo Jinja says:

    Where are you headed? We’ll be in Shiga Kogen….And can I please borrow that book?


  3. Angela says:

    A very funny blog posting, although your poor boy with a cracked clavicle, it’s amazing what teenagers can disguise when necessary for their own gain and pleasure. My 15 year old daughter is in Nagano as we speak on her school ski trip embarking on learning the art of snowboarding, God please let her come home in one piece, last year a girl from her school snowboarded into a tree, smashed her pelvic and spent 3 months in hospital, no hiding that/those fractures!

    Have a great time in the mountains, but be safe!

    oh, when Tokyo Jinja has finished with said book, please can I borrow it too!


    • amblerangel says:

      We are militant with our kids about helmets while snowboarding- for some reason it seems to carry more impactful injuries than skiing. We also all wear impact shorts and gloves with built in wrist guards. Unlike skiers- other snowboarders run over you constantly because they are unaware of etiquette- I take it upon myself to educate them. Now that ive scared you further- I feel your pain!!! She’ll be fine and is having a blast!


  4. I know a couple of adult males who also try and hide their pain from sports injuries in order to be let out to play again!

    I am convinced of the superior diagnostic skills of veterinarians. Once had our vet diagnose me with tick-bite fever when my doctor (at the time) was still saying “it’s probably just flu” and didn’t order blood tests. In case you’re wondering I was at the vet with my cat, but he noticed immediately that something was very wrong with me too!


  5. Lisa says:

    Thanks for the warning. I don’t have a teenager yet, but my eight year is certainly on her way to the “M’s” to achieve her goals. I’m in trouble. 😉


  6. annbaloo says:

    LOVED that book while E was a teen….with her from age 9 on!! Wow, I think your son must have a very high threshold for pain…I remember Nephew saying that about him during cross country, running with some pain…Offspring #2 also! Great genes obviously. Loving your blog, thanks so much for sharing!


  7. Tori Nelson says:

    Here’s hoping my kid likes reading…and only reading. I can handle the odd paper cut I think!
    I love “I blame him for that- he should’ve complained more.” I found myself seriously peeved at my toddler yesterday. He pooped his pants and didn’t even have the courtesy to whine about it. Boys, help a mama out 🙂


  8. The Japanese health care system sounds terrific, but I winced reading about the 14-year-old. I should add it doesn’t get better just because they get older. Two weeks ago my 21-year-old son got sideswiped by a car while riding his bike at night in the rain. (No lights on his bike, and he knows better. Thankfully he was wearing a helmet.) He called me after midnight, complaining his left knee hurt. “Have your roommate drive you to the emergency room!” I said. “You need to have it x-rayed!” Suddenly, it didn’t hurt that bad, and “it’s a weekend, the place will be packed and I don’t want to wait all night to see a doctor,” and he didn’t want to bother his roommate, who’d been drinking and wasn’t fit to drive (well, thank goodness he thought of that). Then he added another “it doesn’t hurt that bad.” I finally told him if he didn’t see a doctor, I’d personally drive the thousand miles up to his house and take him in myself. That got him to go—god forbid your mother should show up on your doorstep, squawking and fussing in front of your friends.

    Then there’s my 50-year-old brother, who hasn’t had a physical in over 10 years because he “feels fine,” and my father, who refused to go in for a colonoscopy until he was doubled over in pain from a tumor in his upper colon. But I’m convinced there’s something in the Y gene, at least in my family, that works as a natural anesthetic. Or robs them of a few IQ points.


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