At the end of September, M broke his arm.
It happened during after-school. He fell off the monkey bars (which is sad because he LOVES monkey bars) and I guess he landed on his right arm.
I was not there when it happened; I was finishing up teaching my photo class when I got the call, and I hated that I was thirty minutes away! A. was on an airplane flying home and we were texting back and forth about what we should do.
The paramedics were called and made him a splint, and explained things to me when I finally arrived. Little M was just sitting there quietly, not crying. I learned the term “visible deformity” about possible breaks – he sure had one. His forearm was curved where it should have been straight! (I’ll put a photo at the very end of the post in case you don’t want to see it.) By the way, the rule is that if there is no visible deformity you can go to Urgent Care because it may not be broken, but if there is a visible deformity, you go straight to the ER.
I took both boys to Randall’s pediatric ER and while we were in the car M was finally upset and scared, crying a little. He insisted on being carried and held when we got to the ER and I was so happy to snuggle him and reassure him that he would be okay.
We were there for five hours. Everyone there was amazing and it was a wonderful experience (for being in the ER for five hours, that is).
M went back to being pretty quiet and stoic once they got him in a bed. First they undid the split and x-rayed him: distal radial fractures of his right ulna and radius. E was super patient. Most of the time was just waiting around for all the specialists to be available for his reset. (Apparently it was a busy night there.)
The room had a TV with cartoons, a clown came in with magic tricks and coloring sheets, and there was a Child Life Specialist who came in to explain everything to M and show him the tools and things the doctors would be using to give him the special medicine to rest while they fixed his arm. He wasn’t allowed to eat until the sedation (around 8pm), which means neither of them got any dinner. Thankfully the TV kept them entertained enough that they didn’t seem to notice.
Watching the sedation happen was hard for me to see, and they suggested I not stay for the reset. The nurse said something about the noise of the bones being upsetting to parents, which made me shudder and agree to leave during that part. I took E to grab a bite to eat at the hospital cafe, and when we got back M was waking up. They said it went perfectly and his arm was looking great. They gave him a splint and some good drugs.
We got home at 11pm (A. had just gotten home from his flight; I was so glad that he got to see M). M had a very rough night and barely slept, moaning and crying…yet also refusing medicine. So we *all* had a very rough night! At like 8am, he *finally* allowed some medicine and thankfully he slept for awhile–I had to wake him up at 1230 in the afternoon! (We’d decided M would get the day off school and that E would be able to sleep in and go in to school late.)
Once he woke up he was pretty much his normal happy self. Especially when I took him to get a special treat. 🙂 That was the very first day that the boys spent the entire day apart! E did great at school by himself.
All of this happened on a Wednesday. He went in to the orthopedist on Monday morning and got a cast past his elbow. It was a hard time to maneuver with that, getting dressed, getting him in his car seat.
He went back a week later for a checkup on it, and they found that the bones weren’t quite in the right place. So they took off the cast, and put on a new one with a little more angle/direction to it. Thankfully it was also shorter, below his elbow. This made his life way easier!
Look at the picture he’d drawn at school and how he sounded out ‘orthopedists’! 🙂
He was never really upset about the cast or about his arm being broken. He was shy about it, though , and he always tried to hide it–either he would hide his arm behind his body, or stand really close to one of us and his arm behind our leg, or insist on wearing his hoodie so the cast wouldn’t be visible. He was afraid of people asking about it, or commenting about it, because he thought they’d be laughing at him. 😦
He also began using his left hand! He’s the only righty in our family but he quickly learned to write and draw as a lefty. After three weeks he said he would keep being a lefty even after his cast came off. 🙂
After a month he got his cast off! (Since he’s so young, his bones heal faster. If he were older it would have taken six weeks.) The x-ray showed that the bones were healing well. (It wasn’t totally done yet; apparently it takes at least six months to fully heal and remodel!) He wasn’t allowed to go on the monkey bars or do any “active” things for another month. We cheated and let him ride his bike and scooter, though, because he’s a little kid and he needs to be able to do *some* things! He was good about wearing the brace they gave him at school recess. He also went back to using his right hand after about a week.
Just last week, his ‘probation’ month was up and he could once again do monkey bars! I was glad to see that he was happy about it, that he hadn’t been scared off one of his favorite activities. 🙂
Overall we were so impressed and proud of how M dealt with this whole experience. I felt so sad for him when it happened; I felt like he’d lost a tiny bit of innocence or something. He was never whiny or angry or upset about the cast, or about not being able to do everything he normally would. But he was so resilient!
Scroll for the broken arm pic…