Sunday, December 2, 2012

Broken Arm, but not Broken Spirit

Let me preempt this by assuring that everything turned out as well as it could have.  I know for absolute certain that the prayers from many loving family and friends helped make it so.

Also, I would have kept people better informed, except that that morning I left my phone at the store by accident, so I was limited to my mom's ancient phone.  But at least it had a camera in it, too.

20 years ago, you constantly heard about children breaking their bones when playing on the monkey bars.  These days it’s another venue: the trampoline.  This past Friday my 5-year old became another statistic. 
Leora, my timid, cautious little Kindergartner  was happily jumping on the big trampoline and came down on her left arm wrong- she didn't even fall OFF.  I wasn't there, but fortunately got home less than 10 minutes later. 

My brother, who had been watching the kids, right away iced Leora’s arm.  We braced her arm by cradling it in an old wrist brace and wrapping it with an Ace bandage.  Her sling was my sparkly pink scarf.  She was screaming and crying while I got everything arranged to take her to the hospital. 

My mom, who’s had almost 30 years of practice at motherhood- 9 years as a grandma- thoughtfully grabbed a few provisions (Leora’s favorite blanket, pillows, a sweater…), and we hauled ourselves to UMC (University Medical Center).  By the time we got there, Leora had not only stopped crying, but was bubbly and happy.  She charmed the triage staff with her giggles and characteristic sweetness.

She was in good spirits for the next hour, until she was called back with another little boy whose arm was in a sling.  But I didn't hear any screaming come from his x-ray room next to us. 
*cue my breaking heart*

Shortly later they took us to a room in the ER.  We met with the attending ER doctor, who upon initial examination seemed fairly confident that Leora had probably just jammed her arm.  It wasn't long before he came back with the x-ray results and news: her arm was broken.

The following 6 hours brought MANY doctors, nurses, and even (thankfully) family to our little room in the children’s ER.  The main concern seemed to be about whether she would have nerve damage.  Various people asked her to show them a “thumb’s up”, an “A-OK sign”, and to cross her middle and pointer finger.  Since those requests usually puzzled her, I had her sign her name for them instead.  They were always delighted.  And she was always able to do it.

Fortunately Leora hadn’t eaten anything since before noon, so when it was determined that surgery was necessary, we didn’t have to put it off.  Another trauma patient needed the pediatric orthopedic specialist, so the doctor was already in the building.  They hoped to get Leora in first, while they prepped the other patient, but in the end the other patient’s needs were greater.

At one point before surgery, we managed to get Fred’s parents and my dad into Leora’s room with me and my mom.   My dad teased that the staff might make Leora leave so there wouldn't be too many people in the room.  The doctor was nice enough to pull up the x-ray scans, and we got to see the break for ourselves.  Leora had looked forward to seeing her arm bones, but by then she was blissfully morphined to sleep, after several hours of whimpering and squirming.

It was so great having family there.  My mom and I were overjoyed that my dad snuck dinner in for the 2 of us.  But more than that, Leora got to see them before she zonked out, getting hugs from all, and even a fluffy bunny from Gramma O’sen.  Before everyone left, the grandpas gave her a blessing, which was also reassuring for me.

They wheeled my little princess into the OR at 11:00 that night, 8 hours after the accident.  I had felt my Heavenly Father’s Love keeping me together through the whole ordeal, but as I had to walk away from the doors to the OR, I was finally overcome with emotion.  I’m so grateful that my mom was there with me.  And that I felt so strongly that my Leora would be OK.

The surgery took about ½ an hour, as they had predicted.  They let us back in to see her at about midnight.  She was resting peacefully, her arm neatly wrapped up, concealing the 2 pins securing her humerus bone (upper arm) so that it will heal correctly over the next 4-6 weeks.  Next week they’ll cast it, once the swelling has gone down.

(we had a great view from our room!  It was beautiful at night, too)

At 1:00am we were finally led to her room.  I was afraid the machines would keep her up, but she was able to drift off and stay asleep until 7:30am.  My mom stayed by her side while I slept a bit on the fold out couch bed thingy.  In the morning they cleared Leora to eat regular food after she kept down liquids just fine.  She enjoyed French toast sticks and a little bowl of grapes.  The grapes were kind of tart, so when we asked if she was going to eat them, she assured us that she’d already eaten one.

Again, the staff was great.  She was her happy little self, if not a bit sleepy.  At first it looked like we might have had to stay the entire day there, but in the end they were able to release us at about noon. 
Her biggest complaint through the whole ordeal wasn’t even her broken arm.  She hated the IV in her right arm and she was very hungry, repeatedly reminding us to take her to Chick-fil-A when it was all over.  Of course, moving her arm was terribly painful, especially before the surgery, but all in all I think it went as well as it could have.

Now for some “highlights” of the experience… or at least moments that made me (and others) smile:

She was a little scared when she met the first doctor.  He was very relaxed and cheerful, so she warmed up to him quickly.  Out of the blue she asked, “Do you have any elevators?”
He chuckled and assured her that they do.  When she asked if she could go on one, he made a deal with her that she could, whenever she finished the picture she was coloring (this was before we knew her arm was broken and that we’d be there for a long time).  The next time she saw him, she immediately asked, “How many elevators are there??”  The next morning she was excited when we assured her that she would get an elevator ride, since we were on the 5th floor.  It was just so sweet to how such a little thing could be such a happy distraction for her.

While waiting for our turn in the OR, Leora started crying more, feeling the pain and fatigue.  In mid sob her eyes fluttered wide open and she brightly asked, “Will I get a pink Christmas tree for Christmas??”  My mom and I seized the distraction, asking her what kind of ornaments we should get, whether we’ll top it with a star or an angel, where we’ll put it… They’re relatively cheap, so we assured her that we’ll have one.

When the night staff got us settled in our room after surgery, they asked if there was anything they could get to help soothe her.  We mentioned her cat obsession, which sent the ladies on a hunt to find anything cat themed.  When she woke up in the morning, she had a little hand sewn kitty in one arm, and her bandaged arm was resting on a pillow that had a pillowcase with a Christmas kitten pattern, that she got to bring home as well.

Throughout the entire ordeal, we made a point of telling people about how much she loves kitties, so she was delighted that everyone wanted to know about her pets, her favorite toys, why she loves cats… it was perfect.

Anyone who knows Leora well, knows she has an intense, irrational fear of dogs.  We’ve tried to help her get over it for years, but it persists.  Well, the staff had already completed the discharge papers, removed her IV and we were preparing to leave, when there was a soft knock and someone opened the door.  In padded a big yellow lab with one of the hospital patient support people.  Of course Leora’s initial reaction was fear, but we convinced her that Morgan was a sweet, gentle dog.  They even got him to lie flat on the floor, except for his tail happily wagging.  Leora bravely pet him a few times.  I was so proud of her, and grateful that their kind gesture didn’t end in a traumatized 5-year old.

(building with the magnetized nuts in a sort of library/activity room in the children's wing) 

The children’s wing of the hospital is incredible.  It’s only about 2 years old, so we hadn’t even known it existed until yesterday.  As when we arrived at the ER the previous day, Leora was in bouncy high spirits when we left the hospital.  She loved every little thing we passed, especially a corridor that was rigged with cameras, so that the projected screen interacted with her whenever she passed close to the wall (i.e. the wall appeared covered in butterflies that would scatter when she came close to the wall).  There were also numerous buttons all throughout.  Some produced sounds, others lights… Her favorite was the button that signaled a model train to emerge from its tunnel and chug around a platform above our heads.  We told her how much her model train enthusiast Uncle Ralph would have loved to see it with her.

As promised, we took her to Chick-fil-A on our way home.  She started expiring as we pulled in to the restaurant, but she still managed to enjoy her waffle fries and a chocolate milk.  She drifted blissfully off to sleep when we got home.  When she woke a few hours later, it was as if she didn’t even have a cast.  I was constantly getting after the kids to calm down so she wouldn’t get accidentally bumped.  She has been bright and happy ever since.

We are so deeply grateful for the love and support from so many dear family and friends- I only wish my loving husband could have been here.  I find it so ironic that Leora ended up being the first child to break a bone, especially compared to her rambunctious siblings.  But it’s also clear that she’ll get through this with the most grace of the bunch.  

“Leora” means “Light or light hearted” in Hebrew.  I don’t think any other name could fit her more perfectly.


John and Becky Bowler said...

Poor baby! I hope she feels better soon. I like your family pic on the header. Super cute. You look great!

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