Thursday, June 12, 2014

Every time a bone breaks, a life is shortened

*Note: We've had some major computer technical difficulties for several days resulting in many nights of anguish and despair (and also a finishing of another actual book so it wasn't all bad). With that in mind, Kate's love letter will be delayed and the following post is about events that took place on Monday.

I don't know if there have been any studies to ascertain the longevity of people with children and people without, but I know that my life was shortened by a few years on Monday.

It was the first day of the first week of summer vacation. What could go wrong? We started the day playing at home and taking it easy. We then went to Swedish Covenant Hospital to visit my midwife, Amy. She delivered Kate and was the first one to find the tumor that eventually led to my cancer diagnosis in March 2012.
We had a great visit, had some lunch and then decided to head across the street to the River Park playground.

After some time on the swings, Lucy wanted to try the monkey bars. We headed over and I parked myself on a bench while the two girls climbed and played. Kate was, of course, not anywhere near Lucy, so I kept looking back and forth to keep track of them. Lucy had climbed to the top of a rope ladder (it looked to be almost 7 feet up--I couldn't have reached her feet) and was reaching for the handles to the monkey bars. She got her hand on it but then withdrew it, looking a bit uncertain about trying it. I looked over to check on Kate and the next thing I heard was screaming and I looked just in time to see Lucy hit the ground with a sickening thud. She landed squarely on her right side but her arm was bent underneath her.

Just writing about this makes me ill. I have relived that moment so many times over the past few days. I will never get the sound of her body hitting the ground nor of her abnormally bent forearm out of my head.

Her arm was bent at a very bad angle so I immediately thought, "Call 911" but then I thought, "we're right across the street from the hospital and an ambulance would take longer than just taking her there." After making sure she wasn't bleeding or concussed on her head, we took off. We ran, literally ran, all three of us, from the park. Looking at it now, the distance to the emergency room turned out to be over a quarter of a mile away from the park but my two girls ran the whole way.

In case I haven't made it clear on here before, my two girls are AMAZING. Lucy is one tough kid to have run that whole way after that fall with her arm bent sideways. Kate stuck close, pushed all the elevator buttons and then kept track of my purse and our lunch cooler while I dealt with the myriad questions and paperwork it took to get us admitted.

They put Lucy's arm in a sling and turned on PBS as they prepared to take her in for xrays.

Unfortunately, the pain killer they gave her had not had the chance to take effect and she was screaming as we tried to get a good angle. Kate was with us in the xray room and nobody noticed that she was not behind the protective screen during the first xray shot. I was in a protective vest holding Lucy's hand down and noticed her midway through so yelled at her to go stand behind the technician.

Another few years shaved off my shortening life as I ask myself how much radiation my other daughter has now been exposed to, not to mention the effect it had on her to see her sister in that much pain.

The break was bad. Very, very bad.

And she was bleeding internally at the break.
Back in the room, I asked for stronger medicine for her and they hooked her up to an IV and gave her morphine. 30 minutes later and it was having not much effect. I asked for more and she finally settled down.
Somewhere in all of this, Len finally made it to us. He had been in a meeting so by the time he got a cab and made it to the hospital, we had been there for almost 3 hours.

I cannot even tell you how wonderful my girls were during this time. Lucy and Kate were just so sweet with each other. Kate was crooning over her and Lucy was asking for Kate to hold her hand. Amazing.

Finally it was determined that Lucy needed an orthopedic surgeon so we needed to get to Children's hospital. Len took Kate home and took on the task of finding someone to watch Kate so he could come get us at Children's later that night.

Lucy and I (after another 90 minutes of waiting) were finally transported by ambulance (sans lights and sirens since it wasn't an "emergency") and got right in to a room at Children's downtown.

She was given more morphine and then another set of xrays. Fortunately, the kid entertainer showed up with bubbles, a stuffed animal and a cheerful face. She blew bubbles all through the xrays and made Lucy smile for the first time all afternoon.

Back in the room, she came in with a soft doggy blanket and more bubbles while I had a conversation with the surgeon out in the hall.
I actually had to request all talks to be out in the hall because Lucy was becoming more and more distraught every time someone new came in and asked in an overly bright voice, "HI LUCY! WHAT HAPPENED??" Of course, when they heard monkey bars, their faces would turn to her with a knowing look and they would then talk about how dangerous monkey bars are. Lucy was started to feel like it was all her fault and she kept apologizing to me for falling and promising never to do it again.

Mama Bear came out and told her it was not her fault, accidents happen, lots of kids break their arms and she would be able to be a monkey once again. To every new doctor/nurse that appeared, when they asked the inevitable questions, I would direct them to the computer screen in our room and tell them they could read the file, that we were done explaining the same thing over and over as it was just upsetting my daughter.

Back to the surgeon: they decided they could just pull on her arm to straighten it out and use the fluro (sp?) machine, which does xrays in real-time, to make sure it was all aligned as the cast was being molded to her arm. As she was being wheeled to the operating room, they put a party hat on her and told her it was the hospital's 2nd birthday so Lucy sang Happy Birthday to everyone in Chinese (while she is on her third dose of morphine mind you...).

She was put into twilight sleep for this part and I was relegated back to our room to wait. Just as this was starting, Len made it to the hospital after securing Jen downstairs to get Kate into bed and stay with her. (THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF OUR HEARTS JEN!!).

They kept us updated during the 90 minutes Lucy was being worked on. We were called to the room when Lucy woke up to the sound of the saw cutting expander spacers in the cast to allow for the swelling that will occur over the next several days. She was crying when we went in but when she saw us she completely lost it. She just burst into sobs and tried to lunge for us.

Back in the room, Lucy remained alert and had finally calmed down. She was given a popsicle to make sure she wasn't nauseous and then we still had to wait another hour before we could be released.

We finally returned home around 10:30pm, 8 1/2 hours after the fall at the park. She will have on this temporary cast until next Wednesday when we return to the ortho department for new xrays to see if it is indeed healing. If it is, she will get another cast layered over this existing one for a minimum of 6 weeks. If it isn't healing, she will be sent into surgery and we start over on the cast.

I asked about a waterproof cast and they said that because of the nature of the break, they will not do it. They would have to remove this cast and put on a new one and that has the potential to unset her bones. I asked about a giant cast condom so we could at least play in the sand and at a spray water park and they said no to that as well since any sand/water could get inside the cast and cause infection.

Sigh. It's going to be a long summer with no swimming, no beach, no water parks, no bikes, scooters, skates, swings, jumping, climbing, etc.

The other thing we are worried about at the moment is nerve damage to her fingers. I took her back to the ortho on Wednesday for a followup and Lucy still did not have full feeling in all of her fingers. She was unable to straighten them out or cross one finger over the other. Our strict orders are to have her move her fingers as much as possible, to keep her hand elevated above her elbow and to keep her from putting any pressure on her cast to allow for the swelling to go down.

So what happened this morning? She fell. ON HER ARM WITH THE CAST. Her screams made it clear to me that it was still quite painful for her so we've still got her on pain meds to help in that department.

In the meantime, we had a cast signing party and a few friends pop over for a short visit on Wednesday which brightened Lucy's and Kate's spirits.

We also managed to skype with all her grandparents and Lina in Sweden which has made her happy. I don't think she has quite realized that half of her summer is shot. And she is also right-handed which has made eating and drawing an adventure.

I really need a vacation. Which is also now postponed as we were set to leave for FL in 5 weeks.


mommy of 2 said...

Aye. This momma gig sure is tough! Not to mention being a kid is tough too. Hugs!

Elizabeth said...

So sorry to hear of Lucy's accident. What a brave little girl she is! Hope all goes well and she heals quickly. Love and best wishes to you all. Keep us posted on updates,


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