Friday, July 12, 2013

And We Have Our First Broken Bone

Early morning, Saturday June 29th, my youngest, Emma was playing basketball with my husband and jammed her finger. Immediate tears ensued. How many times have you seen or heard of fingers being jammed playing sports? If you've been around active kids, it's plenty, I'm sure. I know I jammed a finger or two many different times as a kid playing basketball or practicing tae kwon do and all we ever did was use some athletic tape to buddy tape the injured finger to the next one and went about our day.

Well, by Sunday evening it was all sorts of pink & purple at all three knuckle joints and quite swollen. Add to that a super irritable personality (which is so not her). Fun....not! So I thought I'd take her to get it x-rayed at a Close to Home Children's Urgent Care. We arrived about 1 hour before closing time and the place was empty. Small miracle, for sure.

I was convinced they would just say "continue with the buddy tape." But, before long we were handed a copy of an xray. Sure enough, broken. At this point it's about 10 minutes after closing and in walks two nurses. One oversaw the other putting a splint. Mid splint, the doctor peeked his head in the room and said "goodnight" to the nurses. After the door closed, we were told (mid splint, mind you) "this is her first time putting one of these on.

Let me just say....I'm all for people learning, but after this experience when it comes to my baby and a broken bone....give me the professional. Keep reading, you'll see.

So, the splint is done and they sent us on our way with instructions to follow up with her pediatrician. Along with instructions for not getting it wet, meaning no swimming. No swimming is such a bummer summer. Let's just say, I've never been more thankful for daily rain showers than I have been this last 10 days. Twelve inches in 10 days and they are calling for 2-4 more today. I digress.

We called the pediatrician Monday morning and we were referred to an orthopedist at Children's Hospital. Scheduled for one week out, Monday July 8.

We went about our day Monday, handled bath time like we'd be doing this awkward thing all the days of her life, and all was well in the world.

Until Tuesday morning.

My girl woke up freaked out in the worst way because her splint had come off. You would have thought it was the end of the world. I quickly got her dressed and took her to Urgent Care at the main hospital. First thing we heard from the nurse was "who did her splint?" Um, well, funny you should ask. And so the story was told of our less-than-ideal experience less than 36 hours earlier.

So we waited, and I kept Emma content by handing over a marker to draw on the paper cover.

Soon we spoke with the doctor who pulled up her xray from our first visit. It was then we learned, it's not just broken in one place but three. The nurse reassured me, "Don't worry mom, we'll fix her right up and things will be good as new and this splint will stay on until you see the orthopedist on Monday." She debated on reusing the already formed hard Orthoglass splint, when I politely asked that she not, but instead start from square one. She changed the splint to an aluminum splint and wrapped it half-way up her arm with an ace wrap. Before leaving the room she asked if she wanted a popsicle for the ride home.

Um, if you know Emma at all, you know the answer to that question is ALWAYS a yes! We left with a new splint and a popsicle for breakfast....and feeling confident that this one would absolutely stay put until Monday.

Monday, late afternoon, I get a call saying she's complaining of the web of skin between her thumb and index finger feeling raw. We agreed to slap a band-aid on to cushion it and call it good. She was happy with that provision and went about her evening. Come bedtime, out of nowhere she starts sobbing hysterically saying her hand hurts. After looking at it, we see that it's red and angry. We immediately removed the wrap to find her hand under the wrap entirely purple. *sigh* Her circulation is being cut off.

At this point, she's coming unglued and won't let me touch it, so we pack her back in the car at 9:30pm and take her back to the same Urgent Care--twice in the same day--to have it done for the third time. Somehow, in her mind, a stranger doing it is better than mommy touching it. We heard once again from a nurse "who did your splint?" in a questioning way as if to say "wow, they really botched this." Because reliving this third trip is mentally and emotionally exhausting, let's just say that we got back in the car after that third visit, sat in the parking lot and both just sobbed. It looked like a 2 year old had splinted it for her in their sleep. A mega mess and Emma was none too pleased. She begged me to take her somewhere else.

We got back home and I calmly told her I'm going wrap this thing myself. So, I did. And guess what? It stayed on the entire week and didn't come off until we saw the Orthopedist on Monday. Yes, I'm awesome. *ahem* (in her eyes, anyway) She repeatedly told me several times each day "thank you for doing a good splint mommy." Each time the stress of it all melted away a little more.

We won't talk about the drama of my infusion July 3, in which I had a the medication and had to have an excess of IV Benadryl and steriods. The one that was supposed to take 30 minutes, but ended up more toward the 3-hour mark. The one where I was pretty much dead to the world for the past week from exhaustion. Yeah, we won't talk about that.

So where does that put us? Right. That brings us to the next Monday--July 8. We arrive at the Children's Hospital Orthopedist office---which is a zoo---get checked in and wait our turn. The whole while I'm saying prayers of thanksgiving that it's just her pinky and not her entire leg or arm...or both.

After being brought back to the exam room, we wait some more because they don't have our x-rays or any history from any of our Urgent Care visits. Hello!?! Look in the computer, people. That's why we stick with the same network of facilities so we don't have to worry about this kind of stuff. After this being our fourth visit for this pinky finger my patience meter is pretty much depleted.

The nurse removes the splint, and leaves the room. Just looking at the bruising, Emma starts to panic and is afraid she's going to "toss her cookies." She's definitely not a fan of blood or injuries. This of course, sends Ashlyn into a sensory tailspin (remember her aversion to seeing/hearing/talking about someone about to get sick?). It wasn't long before we were greeted by a resident with a medical student tag-a-long. This isn't new to us since we've spent much time at Children's over the years and are very familiar with the fact that it's a teaching hospital. They both look it over, tell us it's broken in one place (hello, did the two other breaks miraculously heal overnight?) and tell us they'll either re-splint it or cast it, the doctor would make the final call. So we wait.

The doctor comes in, says they'll re-splint it for a week along with a what will come next, except mid-sentence he stops, opens the air-conditioning controls and adjusts the temperature and gripes about it being too warm and leaves the room. He was in our room for less than 2 minutes. The patient care tech then comes in with splint materials and starts measuring and cutting the metal splint down to size with giant scissors. He may know more than me about those scissors, but with each of the five cuts he made metal was fly across the room. I was praying a piece wouldn't hit one of us.

Once the splint was done, I was concerned with the minimal wrap that was on it and the fact that it wasn't supporting the proximal knuckle joint at all. I was also concerned the unwrapped portion would catch on clothing or a blanket and be ripped off affecting the fracture even more. He was much displeased with my questioning and rather rudely started to usher us back into the room to re-do it just to make me happy.

Within seconds, the doctor was back in the room asking what the problem was and then rudely told me the finger was only broken at the medial joint. I let him know that's odd because of what we'd be told the three other visits we've had for this same finger. I left feeling incredibly inferior at the whole experience of that visit and still wasn't convinced.....I mean how hard is it to look at the radiology report? Three doctors all looking at the same report telling me three different things? How can that happen?

Before leaving the tech who splinted it made it known that he's been doing this a long time and it will be just fine, it won't fall off, and he'd see us back next Monday.

We go home, I check out of life for the evening and remind myself it could be worse.

Tuesday morning, 7am, I'm sound asleep as she throws herself on my bed, sobbing the kind of sob you only hear when something is terribly wrong. Bleary eyed, I get up and calm her down enough to understand what she has to say and realize.......the splint fell off.........AGAIN! Are you freaking kidding me?

At this point, I'm cautious around every turn because surely this is a set-up that the whole world is in on, except me, including the producers and cast of Punk'd. If they are ever looking for good material, the last week and a half would certainly be in the running.

We all get ready, I look up the hours of operation for the Orthopedist, and make it there the minute they open. I walked in the door without an appointment and calmly asked for a Patient Advocate. Within minutes I was ushered back into an exam room while the girls went to a private family restroom. Minutes later they both get to the room and are sobbing. Turns out they turned the handle to get out of the bathroom and it fell off in their hand, keeping them locked on the inside with no way to get out. *sigh* Once they calmed down we then proceeded to tell the advocate and the hand-specialist nurse the whole run-down of our experience with this finger starting from the visit to the first Urgent Care.

To make this crazy, almost-unbelievable situation I'm recounting a bit shorter, they decided to start at square one and do brand new x-rays. After x-rays, THREE breaks were no miraculous healing....and a new doctor decided that it needed a hard plaster cast for 3 weeks. Surely the first thought that comes to a momma's mind when hearing the words 'hard.plaster.cast.' isn't 'Hallelujah!', but HALLELUJAH! LOL.

Surely a hard plaster cast cannot and will not fall off and we can finally be done with this drama.

She ended up with a 'waterproof' cast. Instead of the normal cotton material on the inside, she was wrapped with a water wicking material that keeps sweat and water away from the skin. She can shower with it and get it wet in the swimming pool for up to 30-40 minutes a day.

She chose pink, which didn't surprise me at all, and is rather pleased with how it looks. She only had minimal pain while it was being set because of the way they had to form the bend in the cast to shape it.

She was instructed to let the cast set for 24 hours before letting anyone sign it. The 24-hour wait about killed her. LOL. Afterall, she is my social butterfly and she even worried about there not being enough room for all her friends and family to sign. Too cute.

This morning, once again at 6am she was throwing herself on top of me while I was peacefully sleeping, but this time she was eager with anticipation of making it to summer camp for her friends to sign her cast. She wanted me to know she was awake and got herself dressed. She was worried about her outfit matching and excitedly told me she got baker's twine from my studio and tied up the lid of her Sharpie marker to it so she could wear it as a necklace all day.

Gosh, this kid. She's cute.

I'm pleased to say that she is happy as a lark, the cast hasn't slowed her down and has a sweet smile back on her face now that she doesn't have to worry when the next time a splint will fall off.  She came home after just a few hours at summer camp with nearly every spot on that cast covered with well-wishes and friends' names on it.

I'm thankful for her sweet disposition. I'm also thankful that it shines through so much in these photos I've taken throughout the whole ordeal that others notice it too. But even more thankful that she's resilient and in a short while won't even remember medical inconvenience.

All I have left to say is that never in my life, more than right now, have I wanted one of those random "Tell Us About Your Visit" surveys to land in my mailbox.


  1. I can totally relate to your story. My son is now in his 30's and doesn't remember a thing, but I can tell you I vividly recall these kinds of incidents (some humorous now, some still an annoyance). I'm glad to see you too still have your sense of humor, but see your frustration as well. They really do need to understand that these are OUR babies they're messing with!! Great post and thanks for sharing.

  2. Omgosh! I can't believe what you all have been through for a broken finger. Emma is beyond adorable & you have the patience of a saint.

  3. What a nightmare - trapped in the medical system...
    So glad that she's back to her normal happy self. It's a good thing she knows where your baker's twine is, so that she could make herself a sharpie necklace. ;)

  4. Had some time to come read the whole story. She is one brave girl and you are one great and patience Mom! Someday it will just all be a happy memory for the the two of you!

  5. I'm about to take my 10 year old fir a x-ray on her finger. Pray it goes much smoother . Poor baby girl

  6. I'm about to take my 10 year old fir a x-ray on her finger. Pray it goes much smoother . Poor baby girl


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