Sunday, April 12, 2009

About Simon's arm


Simon has a broken Ulna (not a Radius, as previously reported). It happened like this. Sometime in the past week, he began to occasionally complain about pain in his arm. I would pick him up by the arms or bump him and he would say his arm hurt. He did the same with Jaime. Each time we would both do the same thing: carefully examine the area where he indicated he had pain, and ask him to flex his fingers, wrist, elbow, and shoulder. None of this revealed any problems. Yesterday (Saturday) Simon, David, and I went up to the farm to fly kites. Simon got himself tangle up in his kite string and I began untangling him. At one point, I asked him to drop the string he was holding and I picked him by the torso. He screamed and wailed in pain. He said his arm hurt. So I took him ot the emergency room.

He wailed all the way to the hospital about how he was scared. Which surprised me, since his mom works there so he is pretty familiar with it. Nevertheless, he was certain that they would hurt him. I assured him they would not and prayed that he didn't have a dislocated joined or would not need a shot.

Jaime was working, so she met us in triage and what would become a weekend of Social Worker jokes began. Doctors and nurses asked questions and recorded stats and then we got X-rays. He was nervous about the X-ray room--a large dark place with strange machinery. I held him in my lap with his arm on the table. I wore a lead skirt and he wore a little lead cod-piece. He did fine until he was asked to lay his forearm on the table palm-up. The process of rotating those bones (the Radius and Ulna) was painful.

The images revealed a tiny fracture. It appears as a bump on the edge of the bone in the picture. I have to believe the doctor that it is not part of the normal topology of his skeleton. So the nurse used a piece of gauze to measure his fore-arm because the weekend nurses are not certified for tape-measures. Then she came back with a splint that is only three-or-four times larger than his arm. The splint is a long, flat thing with something like plaster inside. She got it wet and then clam-shelled if over his arm from the elbow to the wrist. Once it set. she wrapped it with an ace bandage to secure it. The whole time he is alternating between curious and freaking the heck out. She procures a small sling, but he would have nothing to do with it.

On the whole, he did really well. Thank God for Curious George. We have a book which he goes to the hospital due to a case of the curiousness. I referred to it constantly: "remember when they put the bracelet on Curious George's wrist with his name on it?" "Remember when Curious George got the X-ray?" It really seemed to help. We left the hospital and he fell asleep in the car imediately. I took him back up to the Honakers and put him to bed. When he woke up, it took about 10-minutes to rediscover the cast, which caused him a moment of confusion.

So, tomorrow, he goes to our doctor for a permanent solution. He will probably get some sort of cast--either a standard plaster affair or a softer splint that secures with velcro.

Meanwhile, he is adapting well, doing a better job of adjusting to his own one-handedness than I am. He and David never stop regaling everyone with the story of how he broke his arm, which is a pretty boring story, so they are embellishing it a lot. If you have heard it, rest assured that I did not really drop him off of the roof.

Simon pictured here enjoying yogurt wearing one of the few shirts we can get over the splint.

So, how did he break his arm? We have no idea. He has slipped and fallen on/down the stairs a couple of times recently and he has fallen out of bed (and on the sidewalk, and in the kitchen and at church--the kid has gravity issues). It seems most likely that he struck it against the edge of a step or his bed frame. We will never know.

UPDATE: Simon went to the orthopedic surgeon this morning. He break is described as a "Nightstick Fracture" so called because of the injury that results when attempting to block the downward blow of a nightstick with a raised forearm. Which narrows it down to two possibilities: the aforementioned falls on the stairs or Simon has been sneaking out at night and rioting, which we have told him would earn him a time out. A full cast is not called for and they don't make soft splints that small, so they created a small soft splint that is basically like the one he had but that is only on his forearm, starting above the wrist and ending below the elbow. So he has full mobility and we can bath him without putting his arm in a sandwich bag.