The Wavy Arm

Every day when Laylee gets off the bus, she and Magoo run down the hill to our house at top speed, scaring me to death and forcing me to cup my hands and yell, “SLOW DOWN. YOU’LL FALL AND BREAK YOUR ARM.” I mean it in the, “You’ll poke your eye out” sense. I don’t ever really expect them to break their arms.

So yesterday she got off the bus and Magoo took off like a shot. Laylee soon followed after him but hadn’t gone 10 feet when she tripped and went sliding down the asphalt. She began to scream as she often does when road rash attacks. I sort of pregnant jogged over to her to offer some sympathy and she sobbed, “Please carry me down the hill. I broke my ARM!”

“Yeah,” I thought, “I broke mine too.”

“Okay, honey. Let’s walk home and we’ll have a look at your arm, maybe put some arnica on it. I can’t carry you because I’m pregnant and you weigh too much. You can make it.”

She was a bit hysterical and I could see scrapes all over her legs. I knew they stung but I just couldn’t face carrying her the long way home.


Then she rolled over and I saw her arm, all sort of wavy and visibly broken.

I carried her.

broken-arm-002I was fairly calm, telling her it would be okay and commanding Magoo to go next door where our neighbor was working from home and tell Steffen we needed him. Steffen came out and offered to come with us to the ER but I asked him to take Magoo for me instead and went inside. When Steffen was so concerned and sweet to us, I fell apart and started bawling, which did not do much to calm Laylee’s fears.

Friday had been my big cleaning day and I was greasy and sweaty and wearing a tent-like shirt and low-riding old sweat pants. I had no makeup on, having planned a shower as soon as the house was clean.

I laid Laylee on the couch with my friend Candice whom I was paying to clean the bathrooms at the time and went into the other room to fall apart a bit more, while calling Dan on every number I could think of. I was not un-hysterical and he wasn’t answering so I got the patient into the car, reclined her seat, elevated her arm and ran inside to at least change out of my sweats.

broken-arm-006For the last week or more I had gotten up every morning, showered, dressed, blow-dried my hair, curled it and put on make-up, whether I was going out or not. The one day I didn’t, I had to take my baby to the ER. It’s not just vanity that made me take the extra 2 minutes to change. There’s a part of me that thinks our care won’t be as good or they’ll be more likely to suspect abuse if I look like a shlep.

In the car, I took a mini shower with baby wipes while driving and calling Dan and all of his co-workers repeatedly. My tears were silent and Laylee was calming down. As I dialed I reassured her that it would be fine, and how cool that she would get a cast, and I’d always wanted a cast, and Daddy would meet us soon and he’d bring us lunch. As I drove by the fire station, I realized that I had not put any ice on the injury so I pulled in and flagged down a couple of fire fighters who were walking into the building. Again I lost it and bawled and begged for ice. They offered to drive me to the ER in the rig and spoke calming words to Laylee. When I declined the “rig” offer, they looked me in the eyes and walked me through the steps I needed to take to get her safely there. It’s like they were trained or something. “You know her birth date and medical history, right? You know where the hospital is? See. You have all the tools you need. You can do this. Just concentrate and stay calm and you’ll be fine.”

So I did. Eventually I got ahold of Dan and a few minutes after Laylee and I were checked in, he arrived with a Happy Meal that she was not allowed to eat because they were worried she’d vomit or pass out or something. They didn’t ever really explain, just said she couldn’t eat or drink until they were done. I slipped into the hall to chow… for the baby while Dan chattered away, ignoring her twisted arm, lying limp under the ice pack.

broken-arm-004When we checked in, they asked her what her pain level was from one to ten. I explained what that meant and she said, “Oh, I guess it’s kind of medium. Like a five.”

We talked to about a million check-in people, nurses and doctors and each one would ask her why she was there. She’d tell them her arm was broken and they’d give her that sweet, “Yeah sure” smile and say, “Oh yeah? Let me have a look.” Then she’d pull back the blanket, they’d flinch just a bit, replace the blanket, nod and ask the next question, “How did you do this honey?”

Her answer was the same every time. “I had just started. I wasn’t even going that fast.”

Then they’d look at me and I’d fill in the blanks. “Every day I tell her not to run so fast down the hill or she’ll break her arm and she’s just telling you that she wasn’t doing anything wrong. She was running down the hill.”

Then came the fun part, the part when they needed to insert an IV. When I told her we were going to the hospital, she balked. “Don’t put a needle in me!” she begged. I promised her that I wouldn’t, not mentioning to her in her hysterical state that someone else might have to.

She’s inherited my tiny, rolly veins and the last time someone tried to insert an IV in her arm, she was 18 months old and 4 nurses and 11 needles later, they gave up, leaving the terrified baby sobbing on the ER bed.

I warned the doctor that it might not be pretty but they started to try. The first nurse inserted the needle and dug around for SEVERAL minutes while Laylee screamed and Dan and I held her and tried to comfort her. When she gave up, I went in the hall to “check on something” and sobbed my eyes out while nurses passed me tissues and told me I was doing just fine. The second nurse asked Laylee to try not to scream because it made it harder to get the needle in the right place so Laylee asked Dan to please hold his hand over her mouth. We did Lamaze breathing and as the nurse pulled out and dug in and poked and dug, Laylee breathed and her eyes darted around in sobbing panic like a frightened animal who’s being tortured to death. Her face shook violently and she sobbed almost silently but she kept her hand perfectly still with no one holding it.

Several minutes later they gave her another break and called down a nurse I assume was from pediatrics. She slipped it in first try and we all breathed a sigh of relief.
They needed the needle in her hand so they could pump her arm full of lidocaine to numb it for the setting of the bone. Once her arm was numb, she watched cartoons and could not care less about who was touching her, which was amazing because from check-in to X-ray to the orthopedic specialist, she had been unwilling to let anyone but me manipulate the arm. She trusted me to move both halves at the same exact time without jarring the bone that was broken and poking up at a 30 degree angle. The other arm bone was broken through but staying together.

Now the orthopedic guy was flopping her arm around like a rubber chicken, bending it various directions to get the bone set just right and she didn’t even give him a glance, so engrossed was she in her PBS cartoons. Thank heavens for modern medicine. I got some pretty freaky video of the bone setting that will go in her digital scrapbook. So bizarre to see what he’s doing to her while she just lays there zoned out like a TV zombie. He checked the alignment with a portable CT scanner, gave her a temporary splint and invited us to come back to his office in 6-10 days for a real cast once the swelling had gone down.
We were sent home with a new stuffed animal and a prescription for liquid vicodin.

As I was starting the car, Laylee commented enthusiastically, “Well that was quite an adventure! That was pretty cool. I bet when you were little and you wanted a cast, it was because you imagined having an experience just like the one I had.”

(That is a direct quote. She really speaks like that. Pretty much always has.)

“Well, I did always want a cast,” I deflected.

“Well, you probably didn’t imagine the needle part. But the other parts were really cool.”

“Nope. I didn’t imagine the needle part.”

We went home where Magoo was having the time of his life with the neighbors who had made us a wonderful dinner and special dessert for Laylee.

So now I just need to keep a 6-year-old from bumping her arm or getting it wet for the next week, while finding shirts that will fit over her giant splint that goes up past her elbow.

She warned me that she may not do her best work at school since she’ll have to write and draw with her left hand. I told her that would probably be okay.

This entry was posted in blick, disasters, health. Bookmark the permalink.

47 Responses to The Wavy Arm

  1. Carolee says:

    Ooh, that looks so painful. And Laylee was SO brave! I was lucky to never had to deal with broken bones with any of my children. But there were emergency room visits, one where I almost passed out when they were giving my son an injection before stitches. I’m sure I wouldn’t have done half as well as you did, Kathryn. I hope she heals fast!

  2. DaMomma says:

    Way to go on negative reinforcement, Mama! When I make those threats they never work out and the kid goes right on not listening to me. I bet Laylee listens now!!

    You poor thing. So impossible to be dragging that belly around anyway and then add to it a kid with — truly — a SPECTACULARLY broken arm. Did the Happy Meal help?

    P.S. I am no doctor but I think the reason the kid can’t eat is in case they have to operate. You don’t want surgery on a full belly. They were probably pretty sure they didn’t have to operate, but out of an abundance of caution, they kept the poor kid starving on top of it all.

  3. mamadeb says:

    The lovely noodle arm!!!! Jordan had one a couple of summers ago and the hospital staff starved him half to death because they ended up putting him out and resetting the arm in the OR. He was casted half way between the elbow and shoulder for 6 weeks. Fast forward 12 months he did it again. Same arm.

    I hope she heals quickly. What a trooper. Both of you!!

  4. Mir says:

    Yesterday we went for a bike ride and my daughter experience a brakes malfunction that resulted in her flipping herself off the front of the bike, and as I watched her fall from 100 feet behind her all I could think was “she’s going to break her arm.” Amazingly, she didn’t. (She’s badly banged up, though.) I guess Laylee broke her arm for her. Tell her we said thanks, but that she shouldn’t do it again.

    Big hugs to all of you.

  5. Don’t you hate having to be the grown up, and keep it all together? It’s times like this you just need your own mommy to take control and calm YOU down. Both you and Laylee were very brave, and if I were there I’d give you both a dum-dum sucker and an Estrella patient Dora sticker.

  6. grammyelin says:

    I am so sorry, but glad that you all did so well. That little sweetheart is a trooper – for sure. I remember the times when I had to hide the tears from the kids so that only one of us would be freaked out at a time. It is amazing, though how you are able to do whatever is required for the good of your child. I think MotherLove is grand and so are all of you!

  7. cbs says:

    Ohh, poor baby!
    I couldn’t read the whole thing because it brings back too many memories of my daughter’s 3 broken arms. (Same arm, 3 times, she doesn’t actually have 3 arms!)

    Good luck with it all!

  8. Carrie says:

    Oh, poor little Laylee- and poor you! I’m glad that she did so well, she sounds like quite a little trooper. Good luck with the recovery!

  9. Kerrie says:

    Oh my! What a brave girl! Hope she heals real fast (so she can get back to doing her best work at school)! 😉 So cute…

  10. Melessa says:

    Oh wow! Those pictures made me teary and dizzy just to look at them. You did amazingly well, Mom. Not to mention the little trooper Laylee. And I’m glad you made sure to eat. I don’t know about you, but pregnant me is very subject to blood sugar drops and very easily distracted from eating by my other children. You did very well taking care of everyone involved.

  11. Collette says:

    Wow…I think you probably handled it way better than I would have. We haven’t had to deal with anything like that as of yet in Alexa’s young 2 1/2 years. Crazy…I always wished for a cast too…but am now grateful that never happened. Wishing Laylee the best of a recovery and you no nightmares following such trauma!!

  12. Oh good heavens! Isn’t it nuts how life can hop from ordinary to out-of-control in a matter of seconds?! So sorry for the trauma, and hoping the best of recovery… for ALL of you.

  13. Oh, poor girl, and poor mommy! I am cringing at those pictures, but now I know what a broken arm looks like, so thank you for that public service. Laylee was so brave and sweet to think of the whole thing as an adventure. And what a way with words!

  14. sarah k. says:

    All I can say is that I wish I could get Derek to wear shirts like the one Dan has on.

    That and OH MY FREAKING HOLY MEDUSA IN THE BUSHES! I don’t know how you survived that ordeal. I was hyperventilating in your behalf. No pregnant lady should ever have to go to the ER for any reason. How dare your child break her arm. And, er, I hope she feels better…

  15. Oh, poor Laylee. And poor you. I think it’s harder for the mom than for the child, I think. And those pictures are just awful to look at but I’m sure she’ll love showing them off later. When i first saw the second picture I thought you had stopped to take a picture of your friend cleaning your bathroom. ;o)

  16. Becky says:

    I love her so much!!! Brave little squish. Wish I could be there this week.

  17. Oh. my .word. I would have been a total wreck. When my oldest was 9, she had to have an emergency appendectomy. I was a ball of tears, and there wasn’t even any injury to SEE! It’s just so hard when these little people we love so much need a care *we* can’t provide. Way to hang in there, and give your little trooper a high five for all of us! (on the left hand, of course)

  18. ZaCarrie says:

    I love reading how you guys handle the stuff life gives you. Flagging down firemen, bringing Happy Meals to the ER, and having neighbors who watch your kids and make you dinner when you need it most. Awesome.

  19. Ree says:

    Ohhhhhhhh. Those pictures hurt my heart. Poor baby.

    And poor Mama, too. You did wonderfully – I would have freaked out so bad.

  20. Janel says:

    Oh, it makes me sniffle a little to read your responses because I think I’d be the exact same way! Being “not un-hysterical” and excusing myself to “check on something”…what a terrible experience! Best wishes to both of you!

  21. Mrs. M says:

    That whole “did my hair every single day this week except the day I end up needing to look good” — seems like it happens to me, too. Glad things are looking up. Wishing that arm a speedy recovery!

  22. Awesome Mom says:

    Poor girl! I broke my arm during the summer after kindergarten. I was riding my bike down to my friend’s house after just having learned to ride with out training wheels. I went down the hill way too fast and crashed at the end. Fun times. I hope that she feels better soon!

  23. Heffalump says:

    I want to cry just reading about it! Aaaaaah! I hope to never have to go through that, although I probably just cursed myself by saying that!

  24. Proud Daughter of Eve says:

    Adventures are always so much cooler when you’re not the one who has to deal with them. One summer day, my mom picked me up from day camp and I told her I wasn’t feeling so good. By the time we got home, I was delirious. I remember thrashing in the tub and whimpering that I wanted to go home and all the while thinking “What the hey? I AM home.”

    To me, it’s just a funny story. I bet it wasn’t so funny to my mom.

    Congratulations to both of you for surviving this adventure. Good luck finding something to fit over the splint — I’d suggest sundresses but I doubt the weather’s warm enough yet.

  25. Debra says:

    Oh Laylee. I can’t not look at your wavy arm! You are one brave girl!

    Oh Kathryn. I love the little “cry-breaks” you took in between handling it all wonderfully. You are one brave mommy!

    Prayers for quick healing for Laylee + freedom from worry for you.

  26. Tigpuppy says:

    When I was pregnant with our twins my hubby brought my older 2 girls to my office to take me out for supper after work. My then 4 year old went running down a slope in the grass outside my office and took a tumble. She was carrying her favorite bear and said later that she didn’t want to squish him when she fell, so she landed on her arm and broke it. But she saved the bear! She got to have a bright blue cast, which she then used as a club to bonk her older sister on the head when ever she wanted something! Those little girl bones heal amazingly fast though!

    Wishing Laylee a speedy recovery….

  27. Susan says:

    Oh I had a total flashback when I read this, to Charlie’s broken arm. I’m so sorry, for you and Laylee.

    Charlie’s favorite part (once he got over the whole BROKEN ARM thing) was the colored casts — I think he had four total, in red, blue, green, and neon orange. I wanted him to get a pink one but he refused.

    (See if you can get Laylee to get a pink cast, for me.)

    Thinking of you both. XOXO

  28. Shannon says:

    Oh my stars, what an adventure. It sounds like you handled yourself beautifully. Have you had your giant, post-crisis breakdown yet? Those are always lovely, and they are fully the hard-earned right of a stress-out mom.

    Chin up, dear, and much love to your sweet girl…

  29. Keri-Ann says:

    Oh Kathryn! I am sitting here sobbing for Laylee and for you! What a brave girl… and Laylee was brave too! 🙂 *hugs* 🙂

  30. rebekah says:

    oh 🙁 the not screaming/daddy holding his hand over her mouth thing brought tears to my eyes. Poor girl. Glad she’s doing better.

  31. Allison says:

    Oh, ow. Ow, ow, ow. Poor kiddo. And poor mama. Isn’t it great how fast kids bounce back, though? And now she has an awesome story to tell to anyone who will listen!

  32. Well, you warned her. 😉
    Good job holding it together…it’s so hard to see our babies hurt, eh?

  33. Emily says:

    Poor Laylee! I hope you can get one of those new cats that you’re supposed to get wet. I’ve had a few broken bones and the worst part was having to take a bath with a grocery bag or bread bag over your arm. Then sometimes you’ll end up with crumbs down your cast… Ick.

  34. Carrie says:

    Oh, my goodness, break my heart with the IV story – I can’t imagine watching my baby go through that!!! You’ve had a tough few months, with the morning sickness & all, and now this! Hope you’re feeling better & everything goes well with Laylee’s cast!

  35. kirida says:

    Poor Laylee and poor you! I’m so sorry that she had to go through that, but you were amazing holding it together like that. I hope I could be that composed if it ever happens.

  36. Oh my goodness, I’m glad she’s okay!! That would have had me crying too =(

  37. Paige says:

    Oh, I’m SO SORRY. I’m sure your heart was breaking as you were sobbing out in the hall. When my daughter broke her leg, I felt so horrible, even though she didn’t need an iv or any of that.

    Yes, it IS an adventure. Make sure you ask for the WATERPROOF cast. It doesn’t cost any more, and it makes it so they can shower or bathe without a plastic bag.

  38. cheetaH says:

    OWWWWW! What a story! And what a brave brave girl!

  39. Lora says:

    Oh my! She was so brave, as were you. And for future reference, I, too, have veins that like to roll around when an IV or needle is inserted. An inflated blood pressure cuff around your arm takes care of the problem. I won’t even let anyone near my arm with a needle until they put a cuff on!

  40. Jeanie says:

    Adopting the word adventure to replace other descriptions has done me much good over the past few years. Seeing something as an adventure is way more positive than many other views. It gets me excited about the unexpected.

    Also, Laylee and I? Yeah, we have the same belly-button.

  41. The Wiz says:

    I have sooo been there. Broken wrist for my little one a few months back. At this age, they handle it really well, and they heal really quickly and solidly. I hope Laylee feels better soon, I swear it’s almost harder on us moms than it is on the kids! I broke my wrist in almost the exact same way she did the year previously, so I could walk her through it, and she was soooo proud that her 7 yr old self healed a lot better than my 30 year old self.

  42. Eve says:

    I just couldn’t do it Kathryn, I couldn’t bring myself to look at the pictures or read the grimey details. I’m shuddering and convulsing. Does that make me a bad friend?

  43. Aw, poor kiddo! Sounds like you both did an amazing job!

  44. js says:

    Delurking to say: OMG! I hope this NEVER happens to my daughter, because I was freaking out and getting teary-eyed just reading about it happening to yours! I hope she’s feeling better soon!

  45. Beck says:

    UG! Poor little girl!
    Okay, I can actually solve the How To Keep A Cast Dry mystery – are there any farm supply stores near you? If so, get someone to run over and buy a box of milking gloves. Gingerly pull one of those bad boys over her poor little arm and voila, she can have a bath. They are LONG!

  46. Poor Laylee and poor Mom (and Dad)! I’m glad to hear she’s rebounding so well! Kids are just amazing that way! I wonder when and why we lose that ability? Tell her to take it easy on you for a while. I like to set a one-ER-visit per year limit on my kids. I threaten any further injuries with me fixing it with wood glue and a staple gun. Keeps the bigger ones out of trouble pretty well…
    (Kidding, I swear!)
    If it’s any confort, last week the Poose dislocated both his top front teeth and badly bruised his lips and head when he fell off the porch at grandma’s. And I had to drive 10 hours to get there. I was a nervous bi#*@ the whole way (thank goodness my mom understood).
    Good job on clear thinking and self-control in an emergency. Professionally, I wish more people had those skills. And pregnant too? I bow at your feet.

  47. Carrie says:

    Aaaaack! What a trooper – I hope she is still doing well and sporting a nice brand-new cast by now! Yikes!

Comments are closed.