As many of you already know from my liberal use of social media, Elias fell on Wednesday and broke his elbow. He’s a natural born climber, something I never had to contend with for Isobel, and quick–so quick that in a hot second he somehow managed to climb into his high chair and sit down all by himself the other day, giving me a mini-heart attack. He’s fast, sure-footed, and confident, and our kitchen has been in a constant state of disarray as we’ve had to push all the chairs away from the table as on more than one occasion we’ve turn around to find him standing on the kitchen table and shakin’ his rump like a go-go dancer. If he’s not dancing he’s climbing, if he’s not climbing he’s dancing.
All of this dance-climbing was eventually going to get him into trouble, and on Wednesday, while I was making some lentil soup, I briefly turned my back and Elias made a beeline for the step stool. I didn’t see him do this, nor did I see the fall, but I heard the sickening smack and saw his poor little body on the ground. His elbow must have suffered the brunt of the fall, and when it broke, so did my heart.
His arm looked normal but he cried a lot and he’s just not a crier. Sure, he’ll wail bloody murder if he doesn’t get his way, but he is miserly with his injury tears. He wasn’t reaching for me with his left arm and I wasn’t sure it was anything was wrong but I took him to our Urgent Care anyway, just in case. They sent us off for X-rays and they confirmed a break and what looked like a dislocation of the elbow.
I went back to Urgent Care to get a report so I could go the Emergency Room. I knew what was coming, though. Last week my little nephew, Kai, broke his femur when something fell on his leg. Anthony’s mom and sister were transferred from a local ER to the Children’s Hospital in Madera. Locally we just aren’t equipped to handle these kinds of injuries on children.
We were transferred by ambulance from Turlock’s ER to Madera Children’s Hospital’s ER. It was an hour and a half trip south, through what appeared to be the middle of nowhere. I rode in the ambulance with Elias, and Anthony followed in the car after running home to turn off the stove (in my haste I had left the lentil soup still cooking on the stove), grab my meds and our phone chargers. We knew it would probably be an overnight stay.
Once we arrived the wait was getting extremely difficult for all of us. Elias had nothing but some OTC Tylenol and Motrin and I was becoming increasingly anxious as his discomfort grew. After another round of X-rays, they finally started an IV and gave him morphine. Then all was right in his world. He fell at 1 pm and this was probably around 7 pm.
The ER doctor had great news for us: he was going to to into surgery immediately, as opposed to waiting until the the morning. The sooner he could be treated the sooner he would feel genuine relief from pain. I started crying when I heard the news.
We met the doctors who would be operating and they were incredibly nice. They told us this was the second most common break for kids, the first being the wrist. The hospital saw about three to five cases like this a night. In fact, our doctor said he just came from operating on the exact same break on a different patient an hour ago.
The surgery took about an hour and involved the doctor manipulating the broken bones back into place (the break and dislocation were one and the same) and then attaching four pins in the elbow that went through the skin into the joint. The arm and pins are then covered by foam to allow for swelling and then a cast.
It went off without a hitch and I finally got a chance to eat at about 10:30 pm. After Elias came out of recovery he didn’t want to let me go, so I laid on his hospital gurney with him on top of me and they wheeled both of us to our room. They had a crib waiting for him but we convinced them to switch it for a bed so he could lay next to me. We surrounded him with pillows and elevated his arm with baby blankets to discourage swelling. Our nurses were nothing short of amazing and took excellent care of all of us. I slept with Elias in the hospital bed while Anthony made do with the pull-out couch.
We left in such a hurry we didn’t have anything in the way of toiletries. It had been over twenty four hours since I had brushed my hair or even had any thought about my appearance. When I looked the the mirror the next day I saw a crazy person. A crazy person, who, I began to realize, smelled really, really bad.
Before we left we tried to tidy our room as best as we could but Anthony ended up jamming the sofa bed and I janked up the window shade. You’re welcome, Madera!
Elias was such a trooper throughout. Rarely crying or making a fuss, even though the pain must have been great. All the nurses fell in love with him.
We flew up the 99 to return home and were finally reunited with Isobel, who had been staying with Grandma.
She wrote a sign on her bedroom door that said “Free” to let Baby Elias know he was free to play with any of her toys that he wanted. No charge.
Now we’re home and he’s adjusting to the cast it makes him alternately angry, frustrated and sad. But then he’s back to his sunshine self. He’s extra clingy and trying to learn to walk again with a giant heavy arm cast messing up his balance. He resembles a fiddler crab.
We feel so grateful for the support and love we recieved from everyone, and of course the help we received from my in-laws who took Isobel in without a second thought, even though my sister-in-law is staying with them while my nephew recovers. My parents were also ready to drop everything and care for her if needed. Your comments of love and prayers were greatly appreciated and made me feel like Elias had a whole cheering section rooting for us. The days ahead should get slowly easier, and better for my little buddy.