These Bones Don’t Heal

Jaime, Juanita’s eight year old, is part monkey.

Now, she would not admit that to just anyone, but it is true—the kid loves to climb into, jump out of,  and hang onto anything he can reach.

He gets into anything and everything, being generally fearless.

He is a monkey with the heart of a lion. Up until last week, things were good, with no major accidents or disasters. Juanita begin to think that maybe her monkey with the heart of a lion had the good luck of a cat with nine lives.

On Wednesday, however, Jaime decided to try and climb the tree in the back yard. He slipped; he fell; he landed on his wrist.

His mother marched him over to the Brownsville Community Health Clinic, where they took their place in the pediatric waiting area.

The clinic is not an emergency room, and his mother was praying to la Virgen and to God (in that order) that this not be an emergency.

The X-rays came back, and there was bad news all around. The bone was broken and Jaime was going to  need an orthopedic surgeon to cast his arm.

Juanita broke down into tears. She has no insurance and she would need  to come up with $200 to cover the costs.

Jaime began to cry as well. It is hard enough to be a monkey without a tail. It is a disaster to be a little boy without insurance.

There are options for the some 250 families who show up at this clinic during each year. Some of these options are very bad. Some families decide to take a chance and hope that the bone will heal well on its own (they won’t and they don’t–those children wind up with deformities). Other families try some home remedies, usually looking for a huesero–someone (not a physician) who is reputed to be good with massages, and, by extension, with fixing broken bones. (I choose not to imagine the agonies associated with that choice).

The best option is to work with the clinic, and figure out a way to get the treatment that is needed. The pediatrician has the heart of a lion, and so,too, the clinic. There is is a contagious degree of compassion at work here and some resources in a new fund called “These Bones Won’t Heal.” These monies will help assure that children like Jaime will get their broken bones cared for, even if there is no insurance or the cash that is needed.

An eight year old with a broken bone. It is not cancer, it is not injuries from a burn. It is a simple thing that many of us experienced as children and it remained a small memory, not a lifetime affliction.

For these families it is, however, a tragic accident.

It is also something that could be fixed.

And so, each year, in the Brownsville Community Health Clinic, there are over 250 opportunities to turn a tragedy into a small memory.

If you would like to be a part of that effort, please take the time to write a check, made payable to The Brownsville Community Health Center, with a note that the contribution is for the These Bones Won’t Heal Fund.

Marsha Griffin, MD
Brownsville Community Health Center
2137 East 22nd Street
Brownsville, Texas 78521

The donors will receive a receipt by mail, and the child will receive a cast!


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