How can a beautiful weekend that started with a fun birthday party end with another trip to the hospital!? I’m starting to wonder if Astrid is terribly unlucky or we’re just doing something wrong.
The July 6th weekend started with Astrid’s third 3rd birthday party (that’s not a typo, she really had 3 parties spread over 8 days). The Hirtles and Holdings joined us for a morning splashing in Hillcrest Pool, pizza lunch at Rocky Mountain Flatbread, and ice cream at Yum’s Sweet Shop. Then we ended the weekend with a trip to the hospital (well several trips in fact).
Yes, Astrid’s adventures with the medical system continue at a rapid pace. She’s barely 3 years old and has had repeated trips to emergency for asthma, stitches for a head injury, knocked out a tooth, and now a cast for a fracture on her elbow. Hopefully, we’ll be able to laugh about this in a few years, but right now it’s exhausting.
It was a pretty innocent fall that started it all. We were playing at the park at the end of the day. Astrid was tired because she skipped her nap but otherwise in a good mood. She slipped climbing up a chain ladder on the playground and tumbled to the ground. It didn’t look that bad (she was only a few feet off the ground and the playground had pebbles on the ground) but she must have landed awkwardly on her right arm. She cried for a long time. At first it seemed like she was just cranky but it soon became apparent she was hurt.
She slept in the stroller on the way home and when she woke up she wouldn’t lift her right arm at all. We consulted with neighbours (a doctor and a nurse) and they thought it was probably nursemaid’s elbow (a dislocation) and going to the hospital was probably the best idea.
We knew that we would be triaged at the lowest priority in emergency, so we ended up going to Mount Saint Joseph Hospital because we could see the emergency wait times were less than 15 minutes. We got to see a doctor right away but he wasn’t experienced dealing with kid injuries.
He tried to reset the elbow to correct any dislocation but it didn’t do anything. So they ordered a round of x-rays, but there wasn’t any visible problem. We learned kids bones are different than adult bones (more cartilage that is still hardening into bones) so it’s sometimes hard to see injuries. After consulting with a radiologist at BC Children’s Hospital, a second round of x-rays was ordered. That also didn’t show anything. So after 2 hours our doctor suggested we either go to the children’s hospital where they would have more experience with kid injuries or wait 24 hours to see if it would heal on its own.
It was late already, so we went home to sleep before heading to the children’s hospital the next morning. As expected, we waited for over an hour to see a doctor. While waiting, a volunteer came over to draw with Astrid. She started using her right arm more and after a few minutes was lifting it above her head. She didn’t have full range of motion but it was a big improvement.
When we finally saw a doctor, she ordered a third round of x-rays. The machines at BC Children’s Hospital are actually designed for kids and this was a much smoother process. Plus they had popsicles and TVs with cartoons.
We left BC Children’s around noon with a diagnoses for a buckle fracture on the wrist and orders to buy a splint to help it heal. But at 6 pm we got a call back from the doctor. She got another radiologist to look at the xrays and he saw a hairline fracture near the elbow (a longitudinal nondisplaced fracture of the right olecranon) and recommended a cast just to be safe. So back to the hospital we went.
Astrid was very excited to pick the colour of her cast – pink, of course. She really didn’t understand what she was getting herself into. This was all just one big adventure. When the doctor asked her what she was excited about doing this summer, she replied “swimming.” It was funny but tragic.
It’s been two weeks now since Astrid got her cast and reality has set in. Luckily she’s still ambidextrous, so eating and navigating the world with her left hand hasn’t been an issue. Keeping it clean and dry has been a challenge – we’ve been doing a lot of sponge baths. She’s been remarkably upbeat about the whole incident but she’s ready to have it off.
The hardest part has been sleeping at night. She’s been tossing and turning more, trying to find a comfortable position. There have been a lot of 1 am and 3 am wakeups in the past two weeks that have left our whole family exhausted. We managed to get through a 3-night camping trip, but she didn’t slept well in the tent.
On Wednesday we see an orthopedic doctor. Hopefully the x-rays show her arm is all healed up so we can remove the cast. We’re supposed to go to Cultus Lake waterpark a few days later but it would be impossible in a cast. Fingers crossed.
The cast came off on Wednesday. The doctor said the bone had healed nicely but the to be safe the cast should stay on for 1 more week. We asked about waterproof options or splints and she said if we wanted to we could take it off now. It didn’t take much convincing. The doctor said we would know as soon as it came off if it was still painful for Astrid.
So they pulled out the big saw and cut it off. The doctor operating it was friendly and funny, and Astrid didn’t cry or squirm as they cut it off.
You tell the arm was sensitive (a lot of nerves that hadn’t been exposed lately). But pretty quickly Astrid was bending her arm without hesitation. The doctor was pretty happy with her mobility and lack of pain.
Astrid is still wearing the sling this week (mostly as a reminder to take it easy), but I’ve seen her picking up things and putting a lot of weight on the arm. Just need to make sure she doesn’t reinjure it in the next few weeks.
What can I say other than it gets better.
Every year for the first 5 years of his life, my son Jude was hospitalized for a week each late winter with an ear infection (not an uncommon malady for young children), which saw his temperature spike to 104°, with him in his hospital bed (Burnaby General Hospital, as I was working on my Masters at SFU, and that was the nearest hospital) covered in a damp sheet, the window open (as advised and insisted upon by the nurses), with him barely conscious and in a state of delirium.
When he was 3, Jude contracted scarlet fever, which is communicable, meaning a week for the two of us locked away in our SFU student residence apartment.
When Jude was 6, he was playing with a “D” battery, hit the battery hard with a hammer, at which point it burst, covering him in acid, requiring hospitalization for poor Jude, this time at UBC Hospital, as he was staying with his mother that weekend. The Ministry of Human Resources got involved, enquiring of me whether the “incident” indicated neglect on his mother’s part, which I assured them was not the case.
The only two incidents of note following those early travails? Sunstroke when he was 8 (from which he recovered), and when he was in his 20s, a skate boarding accident that had him hospitalized (I got the call at 3am from St, Paul’s – he came to stay with me for a week, after which – once the cast came off his leg – his mother and I ferried him – me one day, her the next – each day for treatment (for six months) in Kerrisdale.
My daughter, Megan, when she was 2, unawares to me, climbed into the bathtub one morning when I was having a shower, and when I turned around to see what was going on, she slipped and fell, knocking several of her top teeth out, bleeding like a stuck pig, whereupon she was rushed to the hospital (VGH) where her mother and grandmother awaited. If looks could kill, their glaring at me would be my death knell.
Only two weeks later, Jude and Megan and I were skating at the ice rink in Burnaby, when my son grabbing Megan’s Eeyore donkey away from her, in the process “accidentally” hit her across the mouth, the metal key on the donkey plush toy swung across Megan face and mouth, knocking out a tooth (one of her few remaining top teeth), resulting in much wailing, and blood on the ice.
Both children are now in the 40s, healthy as horses, as athletic as all get out. To be perfectly frank, I can’t recall a time in the last 20+ years when either has suffered the poor misfortune of injury or health travail.
All you have to do is hang in there. As I say above, it gets better.
Thanks Raymond. Kids are resilient, but it’s still stressful as a parent.
And going through scarlet fever sounds like hell.
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How did the appointment go? Does Astrid still have the cast?
I guess I should update the post.
Yes, the cast came off on Wednesday. The doctor initially suggested keeping it on for 1 more week, but when we asked if we could take it off now, she said yes. It didn’t take much convincing.
Astrid had no problems when they cut it off but you tell the arm was sensitive (a lot of nerves that hadn’t been exposed lately). But pretty quickly she was bending her arm without hesitation.
She’s still wearing the sling this week (mostly as a reminder to take it easy) but I’ve seen her picking up things and putting a lot of weight on the arm.