Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Henry and the Broken Bone

Monday last week, Henry (3 years old) fell off a ladder.  Twice.  At least, I'm assuming it was twice; we didn't actually see it happen the first time, and since Henry is mostly nonverbal, he couldn't tell us.

Anyway, the realtor who's listing our house was over to take pictures, so I had put up the ladder to the loft in Henry's bedroom.  I left it up because, well, since he learned to climb he's been very careful about it and has never had a problem with it.  I was downstairs talking with a friend when Henry started howling.  I zoomed up the stairs and got there at the same time as Matthew.  We found Henry lying on the floor, crying.  I picked him up and snuggled him until he felt better, and Matthew took the ladder down.  I went back downstairs.

About five minutes later the howling began again.  I raced back up the stairs to find Henry on the floor again, and the ladder up.  Rowan, our 6-year-old, had put it up.  (I must admit that I am somewhat impressed, as the ladder is very heavy.)  He reported that Henry had fallen from the second or third rung--not very high.  We didn't worry much about it then; I snuggled Henry for a long while, but he still was upset.  I gave him ibuprofen and he went to sleep for an hour.

When he woke up, the crying began again.  This can't be right, I thought to myself.  He shouldn't still be in pain from it.  Matthew agreed, and we took him to the ER.  It's a small one, and usually not very busy.  That night, although it was busier than usual, we got in to a room within 30 minutes.  When the doctor came in to examine Henry, he did a very quick exam.  "No contusions on the head.. standing straight.. can't feel anything wrong with his spine.. Okay, take him home and bring him back if he starts vomiting."  He explained that they don't like to do scans on small children unless they see something obviously wrong; and he said that it was perfectly normal for Henry to still be crying four hours after the accident.  I thought the first part sounded logical, but I knew it wasn't normal for Henry to still be crying.  Maybe I should have pushed more.  But the doctor was already moving on to the next patient, so we packed up and went home.  (The fact that we were hearing phrases from the patient next to us like "abscess" and "groin" and "scrotal sac" might have had something to do with it.)

Henry cried Tuesday.  We gave him more ibuprofen, and then he was happy for a few hours until it wore off.  He cried again.  He cried Wednesday, and I noticed that he wasn't using his left arm.  He also wasn't sliding down the stair railing, like he usually does.  I decided to call his doctor.  His regular doctor.  We went in that afternoon and his doctor said he most likely had fractured his arm.  He put Henry's arm in a splint and gave us orders to go to the hospital (a different one) and get x-rays.

I know his seat belt is wrong.  I fixed it.

It turns out he had fractured his arm.  It was what the doctor called a "buckle fracture."  He said to leave it in the splint until Monday, then bring him in to the clinic for a cast.  Poor Henry!  To be trapped in a cast for the summer!  I told my family about the situation, and they were all very indignant.  My brother-in-law, a volunteer firefighter, said he was going to "raise Hell" with the ER about not doing scans that first day.  I am torn between being angry and being understanding.  When you have a patient like the one next to us, it can be easy to dismiss a small boy showing no outward signs of injury.  On the other hand, my boy deserves thorough treatment.

Well, we went in Monday to get Henry's cast.  The doctor asked if he'd been trying to take the splint off, and we said no.  He said he would recommend just leaving it in a splint then, since it was mostly stable, and then we'd also be able to take it off for bathing.  We decided to go with that option, and he made a molded splint for Henry.

Henry is much happier now that his arm is stabilized.  I think it must really have been hurting him.  The doctor said he just has to wear it for three weeks.  He's already begun sliding down the banister again.  Lord help us in the next few weeks!

At the doctor's recommendation, we put a sock over the splint to keep it clean.  Henry is fascinated.