Here’s the scene:

On a bright winter morning,
One European and
Five American adults are standing in the driveway.
One adult is steadying a child, while another adult holds a long, serrated bread knife.
Ten children are running around playing, while one child lies on the cement having his cast sawed off, prior to his orthopedic doctor’s appointment.


“You’re going to cut his toes,” a child yelled.
“Keep cutting at that angle,” the Uncle said steadily.
“Oh no…Oh no! Be careful!,” an Aunt worried.
Nothing. Absolute silence from the European observer.

You’re probably wondering how this fiasco ensued. Well, the American healthcare system, that’s how. Or, at least, the Lakeland, Florida healthcare system.


Our morning had started out quite normally. My family was in Florida visiting my sister Sarah before her family returned to Portugal. While we were there, a dear Portuguese friend, Rui, was also visiting the States. Over watered-down milk (a large family trick) and sugar-infused coffee (of a very non-European kind), the men began talking about the differences between American and European nations, stuff like government, taxes, and gun laws.


Sarah walked in, adding a new talking point to the conversation,  “I just got off the phone with the doctor’s office. They said they don’t have a cast saw at the office. They said we could reschedule.”


My 7-year-old nephew had broken his foot jumping out of a tree and had been in a leg cast for five weeks. That day’s appointment was for the cast to be removed. So, the question immediately became “What kind of doctor’s office doesn’t have a cast cutter ready to go when an appointment has been specifically scheduled to take off a child’s cast?” Rescheduling wasn’t an option, because Sarah and her crew were leaving the “Land of the Brave” in a few days.


“Or they said we could cut it off ourselves and just bring him in for his X-ray,” Sarah continued.


Nothing. Absolute silence from our Portuguese friend, Rui.


Erupted chaos boomed from the Americans.


“Are you serious?!” exclaimed Mike, the father of the casted child.
“I’ll get a knife,” offered Steve, the Eagle Scout uncle (and my hubby).
“His foot is going to stink!” declared Elaina, the teenage sister.


But we all paraded outside to take matters into our own hands. The children were laughing (even the patient). The women were anxious of the scene unfolding before us. The men stoic and concentrating on the challenge ahead.


Then, just as the knife cutting ceremony began, Ruth unexpectedly drove up with her four youngest children and two dozen Dunkin’ Donuts. Shocked by the scene, she came yelling from the car and approached her poor nephew, “WHHHAAAATTTTT IS GOING ON!!!???”


At last, Rui laughed in disbelief, “And you think European healthcare isn’t good?”


  1. Jessica says:

    Haha, I love this! I got to serve with Mike and Sarah this summer, and got to meet Rui as well. I can just picture this going down!

    1. Ruth says:

      Jessica, it was crazy. But little E was just fine with everything. I, on the other hand, was NOT! For the most part, Rui enjoyed the States. He did, however, get sick of American fast food, until Sarah introduced him to Wendy’s salads! Thanks for helping my sister with her work in Portugal. lots of love

  2. sarah says:

    LOVE this story! Thanks for writing it up Deb. Just another day in the Boswell family.

  3. lori says:

    You all really should publish a book about all of your adventures in Portugal and daily happenings with the kids. I can so see Mike doing this! Come to think of it, I could see his cousin doing it too. :)

  4. Michelle says:

    Love it. That sounds just like the Prewitt family that I love.