Monday, April 19, 2010

Dodging the ER Bullet.

I had a kid emergency the other day.

Not a life-or-death kid emergency, THANKFULLY. Just a minor emergency. But an emergency nonetheless: my 3-year-old dislocated her elbow.

(By the way that's *not* an x-ray of her actual elbow above; however, now that I've seen that photo I think my post-traumatic stress disorder has just kicked in again.)

My daughter has a "history" of this injury-- 2 times before-- and both previous times had landed us in a hospital emergency room. But the elbow had been fine for long over a year now, so we assumed that the joint had firmed up just as the pediatrician told us it would by around age 4. In other words, we got careless and stopped thinking about it and stopped putting people on notice about it.

I wasn't there when it happened. And my husband was traveling in another country. Here is the text of the email I sent him later that night, modified only insofar as the names have been changed to initials ("S" is our 4-year-old and "M" is our 3-year-old and "I" is M's friend).

* * * * * * * * *


First, let me say that M is fine. But we had a little crisis today.

Both S and M were invited to playdates this afternoon. So I brought M to I's house and S to A's house and headed to the mall to return a dress and the kids' library books. I was testing out long-range camera lenses in the store you recommended when my phone rang. I answered and could hardly hear I's mom over the sound of M wailing. I's mom said that M had gotten hurt, something about her arm, and I said oh my god it's her elbow put her on the phone, but when she put M on the phone all I heard was horrible sobbing and gasping. I must have caused a scene in the store yelling into the phone, "M can you hear me?? M can you speak??" It was very scary because I was at least 15 minutes away and I knew that M was losing her mind. I started running out of the store, calling my dad and asking him if he had access to a car to go pick M up but he didn't, so now my dad was a wreck. I drove home like a lunatic and pulled up just as I's mom was in the driveway laying M in my dad's arms. I pulled up on the sidewalk and saw the limp arm and the kid's beet red tear streaked face and my heart just broke. I knew the elbow was dislocated and I knew that I had learned (in theory) how to fix it in my first aid class last year but my brain didn't feel like it was functioning and I was so, so terrified of doing it wrong and putting the kid into agony. I held her in my arms on the driveway until she stopped wailing, as she was obviously much calmer just having me with her (not great for my comfort level re: leaving for our upcoming vacation, but anyway), and I asked if she wanted me to fix her arm or let the nurse do it. (I had already called the ER on my way home to tell them we were coming.) She was sobbing that she wouldn't get in the car. I was about to attempt to fix it myself when I chickened out cuz she was already in so much pain, it seemed. But she got hysterical when I tried to get her to the car. So, with my dad there for moral support (actually, he was begging me to tell him how to do it, but I didn't know how to explain it; I just thought I had it somewhere in my head, and knew what the end position of the arm had to be), I sat in front of her, turned her arm palm-up (against her wailing), and brought her hand to her shoulder (while holding the joint with my other hand). I thought I heard it click back into place, but now she was wailing so loudly that I started to second-guess myself. I went to put her in the car to the ER but then decided that no, I was sure I heard it go back in. So I repositioned it again just to be sure, and this time it was clear that the elbow was back in the joint and the kid was just freaked. So I took her inside and got her set up on the sofa in the office and my dad ran out to get ice cream and apple juice boxes (per M's request) but she was still refusing to move her arm. That is, until I suggested that she paint my face. At which point she took her injured arm, picked up the face paints, and happily scribbled all over me. The end.

* * * * * * * * *

There is no funny punchline to this story. I share it with you only because I'd like to encourage you to take a pediatric first aid class if you can. At the time, I wasn't sure I was retaining the information (a lot is covered in a short amount of time), but my experience the other day goes to show that the stuff does stick, even if you're hazy on the details. That first aid class I took allowed me to quickly take away my daughter's pain, and it spared both of us a traumatizing trip to the emergency room. And one day, heaven forbid, maybe it would help me when faced with an even bigger emergency.

Now go thump on the chest of a featureless dummy! You can tell them I sent you. xo.

p.s. Upon reflection, am very embarrassed that I addressed my supremely macho husband as "Honey" in the above message. Terminating use of that emasculating nickname, effective immediately. From here onward, will refer to him in correspondence only as "Stallion" and/or "Love God." Apologies all around.

1 comment:

  1. You did good! Poor little kid (and poor little Mommy). Horrible story with a happy ending. I can understand the panic - the helplessness of not being there to fix it. And "Stallion" is better than "Honey" so my vote is for "Stallion".