Friday, October 10, 2008

Broken Bones

Alex broke his arm yesterday. Broke it bad. It is amazing how much a kid can handle when he has to.
My son, who sounds like he is giving birth when he stubs his toe, barely made a peep when he fell, hard, while rollerblading (he was racing and I was watching) and dislocated and broke his wrist yesterday. It was incredible. I went through this mental dialog outloud as I watched... He won the race, but as he hit the finish line, the guy leading the race yelled "RED LIGHT!" and Alex stopped and dropped to the ground trying to stop as fast as possible. I say, out loud "Ooooo... you're ok buddy. Ok, get up." As he rolls over, looking at me with this strange look, then tries to put weight on his wrist and I say "unless you broke your wrist..." and go BOLTING across the roller rink floor, scoop him up and set him down on the side of the rink. I turn over his wrist and it is literally bending backwards at an impossible angle. Immediately I start delegating what needs to be done. "YOU! You help him take off his skates please. CYAN! We gotta go. NOW. Can you help her take off her skates? I will go get their shoes and the car. Can you get something for his arm to rest on? Thank you." I go get the car, pull it up to the very front of the roller rink, toss Cyan's car seat in the way back so Alex can sit closest to me, go back in, and someone has gotten Alex a roll of paper towels to lay his wrist on and they are handing me a gauze roll to wrap it with. I do this, carefully, the whole time helping Alex breathe. "Ok buddy... in through your nose, out through your mouth." "Mama, it really hurts. Oh god, it looks so weird! Mama, I'm scared. Will it hurt when they put it back." "Yes Alex, but then, honey, it will feel a LOT better. Very very soon. We are going there right now. Right now bud." "Ok, but it looks so weird! I'm scared." "It's ok to be scared, just keep breathing, in through your nose out through your mouth. Cyan? You there honey? Put on your boots. No honey, we can't stay. Don't start crying... we will come back next week ok? You're ok. We have to go right now. Can you get my purse. That is a really important job. Can you handle it? Great!"

We get to the hospital. The dr looks at it. He says yes, it is both dislocated and broken. Looks like a fracture, just in one of the bones. We need an x-ray. Before that, we are going to give him a shot for the pain and the nausea (he was feeling pretty sick because of the pain) and then we will take him to x-ray.

X-ray shows where it is broken and dr immediately says that we need to go to the neighboring hospital for the Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon. I ask why, he can't really explain it, but it is more of a repair then he can handle in the urgent care.

This whole time, Cyan is starting to freak out. She, of course, is crazy worried about Alex, and has nothing to do. She has a scratch from the bunny the day before, on her belly and she needs to have the dr look at. The dr, catching on very quickly to what was going on, gets her a cold pack for her scratch as I go out to call Don to get him to come and get her. He is still asleep. When I come back, Cyan is sitting next to Alex, with an icepack on her belly, while he has one on his completely broken arm. They splint his arm and we are off and ready to go.

So off to the other hospital we go. To wait, apparently, for the Orthopedic Surgeon to get there and set Alex's arm. On the way, Alex says he feels a 'pop'... and then his arm feels better. (His wrist popped back into the socket on the way there... probably because he was so relaxed at this time.)

Alex is totally loopy on the pain meds at this point. Talking in circles, showing me what he can do with his broken arm all of a sudden because it doesn't hurt (as I try to get him not to move it), being 'very serious' about lots of things where I 'need to listen' or 'am not listening'... lol... '
It was interesting.
Cyan's emotions are hitting fever pitch about this time. The poor little thing is crying, following me as I am trying to help Alex walk, saying things like "Nobody is paying attention to me. It doesn't even matter if I am here." I try to reassure her... giving her the 'really important' jobs of watching my purse and making sure Alex is sitting down while I go to the vending machines to get water and try to find her a snack (it is nearly 7pm at this point)... I know that she is having a really hard time feeling useless, and I am not sure I did anything to help, as she knows that if I take my wallet with me, the job of watching my purse isn't really that important, and Alex is sitting there watching tv like he is stoned. So nothing big to do there. But I was all out of creative parenting tips for that moment.
We sit for about an hour (this is a total of 3 hours so far) in the waiting room watching America's Funniest Home Videos (which, btw, shows TONS of potentially bad injuries and then everyone is expected to laugh. At this point, I am not laughing... in fact, I was disgusted by some of them). When we finally get to the triage nurse, she tells us she has no idea what she is expected to do here and it is completely odd that they would send us to a different hospital to set a broken arm. I didn't fully understand myself, so was of little help. But somehow, magically, we get placed in a room almost right away.

Then dr #3 comes in to look at Alex. He is a real piece of work. Total jerk. He tells me that my son can't have his arm set tonight because I gave him water and they have to put him to sleep. I said that didn't make any sense. I gave him water because they gave him heavy duty pain meds that gave him cotton mouth and that was what they were doing so they could set the arm. Now all I needed was the ortho dr guy to come and fix it. "Ortho dr?" "Yes, the man that is coming to set my sons arm... right now." "Well he won't be able to do it tonight either because you fed him." "I gave him water because he is ALREADY on pain meds." "Whatever." and he leaves. Seriously, this guy was an ass.

Then, in walks the 'ortho guy'. Oh gosh. What a life saver. So sweet, kind, talkative, honest. And good at what he does. Don showed up while he was telling us what was going on, and then left with Cyan after the nurse came and gave her a pudding cup, a graham cracker, and some stickers. Ortho guy tells me that Alex's wrist isn't out of socket.

To which I say: 'Yes, I know that, it popped back in when we were on the way here, is that all that was wrong with him?'
Ortho guy: "Oh no. He broke it. Broke it good. But... he broke it right at the growth plate. So if it isn't fixed correctly (like perfectly) he could not grow in that wrist again."

Me: Deep breath. "Hence, why they called you."

Ortho guy:"Yes, and also, why you had to come over here. We need to do the repair under live x-ray to make sure it is set just perfect."

Ahhhh... it is all clear now.

So they give him more pain meds, but this time locally (just in his wrist) and hang his OMG messed up wrist from two fingers from the ceiling... that was an experience. Seeing my sons wrist bent the wrong direction, but hanging from the ceiling with a water weight hanging from his elbow to help it pull down. OMG... I still can't get the picture out of my head.

Anyway, about 10 minutes after ortho guy gave Alex the local med, he comes back in, and asks Alex how he is doing... Alex says it feels weird and looks totally wrong, but it doesn't hurt more than a 3 (they were doing a pain scale with him the whole time to see if he was going to throw up or pass out). The guys says "Ok" and grabs his arm, shoving the bone back where it needed to go. I think my eyes nearly bulged OUT of my head at this point... and I had to turn away. Alex just gave this gasp, turned white as a sheet, and then looked back at his arm. It looked 100 times better. "This guy is good!" Alex says, with his drugged, loopy overtones. "You'd think I'd done this before or something" says ortho guy. lol...

The next hour, I wasn't allowed in there. I stood by the door and watched, but they had to use constant x-ray for the rest of the setting to make sure they got it right. Everyone in the room was draped in led vests. Including Alex. So it was a good hour of doing that... then they were finally done. They set up his arm in a expandable splint, because apparently he can't get it cast until it stops swelling, which could be a full week and a half with this bad of a break. So we have to meet with ortho guy in his office and get that done Monday after next.

We got home just after 9:30pm, and we got there just before 4pm. It was a long, hellacious day. But Alex is doing great. The guy was really really good. And as long as Alex babies his arm for the next week and a half while the bone is starting to heal up again and the body is recovering from the strain of the dislocation, he should recover completely in the normal 6 - 8 wks.
What a day.

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