Week 20, Days 6 & 7: Chelsea’s Broken Arm (long recap)

This post is out of order for my 52 Weeks project, but I wanted to get it written and into the blog before I forget some of the details. This recap probably goes into too much detail but I’d like to remember exactly how it all happened and what our life was like at the time. And I’m going to write this post in first person, rather than third person like I normally do, because it is just going to be easier to retell the story that way. And I know it is weird that I write my “52 Weeks” captions in third person, but I do that because I want my “52 Weeks” photo album to be from the family’s perspective and not just mine (I reference the blog to write my journaling for the photo album).

On Wednesday afternoon, after a fun morning playdate and lunch out, the girls and I came home for naptime. Before we even got in the door, fits were being thrown. Mallory was hysterical but starting to recover from her fit that she threw because I *touched* her doll blanket even though she put her things (toys, animals, blanket) on top of my things in the car; Chelsea’s fit started when I helped her take her sweater off, even though Chelsea asked for help with the buttons. And it was way past time for Tessa to be fed. Just a bit of chaos, but completely normal.

Once inside, Mallory was begging for her things back that I took away after she threw her toys and screamed (and growled?!?) at me. I was trying to get Chelsea ready for her nap in the midst of her fit. Tessa was crying because she was hungry. When Chelsea wouldn’t calm down, I put her in her crib and stayed in the room to wait for her to calm down. Chelsea lifted her leg up on the side of the crib, like she was trying to climb out (and like she has done at least a couple dozen times before), and I told her to stop and calm down. I then told Mallory to go lay down in Mommy’s room and if she did she would get her toys back. Not out of character, Mallory did not listen and stayed in Chelsea’s room. Mallory then noticed her feet were really dirty (from playing at one of those play gyms at a fast food restaurant). So I got some wipes and sat down on the floor with my back to the crib.

I was cleaning Mallory’s feet when I saw Chelsea’s body hit the floor right in front me; the result of her climbing out of her crib. Chelsea landed flat on her left side and started crying. It did not look like she broke her fall with any one part of her body, like her arm or head. I picked her up to comfort her and asked her where she hurt, thinking that she was just scared and not really hurt. Since she is only two years old and was crying, I really could not get any information out of her. Then Mallory started crying because it was “too loud.”

At that point, I think I was able to get Mallory to leave the room and then I cuddled with Chelsea for awhile in the glider. She was still whimpering and also somewhat favoring her left arm. When I would ask her if her arm hurt, she would cry, “nooooo, noooooo”. I did not know if that meant no, it didn’t hurt or no, leave me alone. Her arm did not look broken and touching certain spots did not seem to affect her (she was already crying/whimpering). So, once she calmed down, I put her back in her crib to take a nap. She seemed ready to take a nap and went down fine. I then went to tuck Mallory in and feed Tessa. After doing that I could still hear Chelsea crying occasionally and whimpering. Her crying was different from her being mad and not wanting to take a nap. That did not seem right so I went and got her to make sure she was ok. We laid down in Mallory’s bed and kinda cuddled and Chelsea went to sleep (she did not want me to touch her but wanted me right there). She dozed but continued to quietly cry which made me really think something was not right.

I called Jonathan to let him know what was up and that he probably needed to come home so we could get Chelsea to the pediatric urgent care center that is nearby. I thought, in the very least, she that she sprained her arm. We decided that I would stay home with Mallory and Tessa so Jonathan could take Chelsea in. When I strapped Chelsea into the car seat, I could tell that she was in a good bit of pain. I felt so bad for her and kept replaying in my head seeing her hit the floor.

Jonathan called from the PUCC and said that even without taking x-rays that they thought her arm was broken. He called me back later after x-rays to say that it was indeed broken and that they scheduled surgery for the next morning. He said it was broken in one place and then in another place the bone had broken off. Wha??? I was in shock and now even sadder; I was feeling so bad for my baby girl. Why on earth did not I face the crib when I sat down to clean Mallory’s feet???

Week 20 :: Chelsea's Broken Arm

Chelsea came home with a splint and sling on her arm. She only wanted Daddy to hold her and she was still in some pain. That night Jonathan ended up having to sleep next to her in Mallory’s bed and I do not think either of them got much sleep (Mallory slept in Jonathan’s normal spot in our bed).

In the morning, Chelsea still did not want much to do with me, so we let Jonathan do all of the 0ne-on-one with her. And Thursday was Mallory’s last day of school and was a half day. So, after dropping Mallory off at school in the morning, I drove with Tessa down to Fort Worth to Cook Children’s Hospital. My friend Kathy very kindly offered to pick Mallory up from school and keep her in the afternoon until however long we needed.

We got to the hospital in time to see Chelsea prior to surgery. Chelsea was happy to see me and even happier to see Tessa.  Jonathan said before we got there Chelsea would lift her right arm and say, “doesn’t hurt” and then when he asked her about her left arm, she would look sad. He also said that she said, “I miss Mommy.” When she saw me, she wanted me to hold her and I was happy to be able to comfort her, finally.

Week 20 :: Chelsea's Broken Arm

They called her back to start the surgery prep and put some medicine in her nose. The medicine was supposed to make her feel sleepy and relaxed; it quickly started to work. Her mood changed and she was talkative and sweet. She told Tessa, while holding one of Tessa’s hands, “you can touch ‘dis ahrm, but not ‘dis one.” The nurses liked to give her stickers to distract her and then after seeing a dog on the TV in the room, she told us, “puppies don’ like stick-uhs.”

Then a resident came into the room and told us he would be assisting Dr. V during the procedure because the doctor thought he would need the extra set of hands during surgery. He told us she had a really bad break and it did not look good. He said the fracture was classified as Monteggia Type IV (which means “anterior dislocation of the radial head and fracture of the proximal third of the radius and ulna at the same level”). She had broken her elbow in two places. In one place, it was a cracked bone, like how you normally picture a broken bone. The other break involved the tip of the bone breaking off and then it had flipped 180° in her arm and was sitting sideways along the bone. The latter break is what concerned the doctors most because if it was not repaired correctly it could affect the growth plate and how her arm would develop in the future. The resident then described what he thought the surgery would involve. He anticipated them having to insert a pin or pins, either near her elbow or up through her wrist, to hold the broken off bone in place. And she would probably need to stay overnight, maybe two nights, to recover. If she had pins inserted she would need a subsequent surgery in a few weeks time to have them removed. He then talked about the possible risks of the surgery if the bones did not fuse or heal correctly (bone dying, more surgeries, growth problems). Somewhere in there he did mention that they would try to manipulate the chipped bone prior to starting the real surgery to see if they could get it into place in a non-invasive way. He anticipated that the surgery would last two hours (or more) plus 30 minutes before and 30 minutes afterward for anesthesia.

A little bit later, Dr. V came in and reiterated (and mumbled) some of what the resident said. Both the resident and doctor were hopeful that they could fix Chelsea’s elbow since she is so young and since the injury just happened.

Chelsea was wheeled back into surgery and we were told by the nurse that they would call us once the surgery started (after anesthesia) and we could start counting time from then. We sat in the waiting room and waited for a call, but never got one. We thought that was odd and thought maybe they were having a hard time getting Chelsea to go to sleep. Then, about hour and 15 minutes after sitting down, I saw the doctor and resident coming down the hall. The resident saw me and gave me the thumbs up.

It turns out they never called because they never really started true cut-the-skin-open surgery. They were able to do a closed reduction, meaning they did not have to cut the skin, to manipulate the bone piece back into place. They did have to insert a small wire to push the bone into place, but other than that there were not any incisions. They took x-rays to make sure the bone looked right and it all looked good. So in the end, they prepped us for the worst case scenario but with their skills, gave us best case scenario.

Week 20 :: Chelsea's Broken Arm

They put a green cast on Chelsea (her favorite color) and on her bear’s left arm (isn’t that sweet? he went back into surgery with her). She will have the cast on for three to four weeks, depending on how she heals. They do not like keeping the elbow in a cast for long since it can get stiff.

Week 20 :: Chelsea's Broken Arm

We will have to go in weekly for x-rays until her cast comes off to make sure the bone/cartilage is fusing correctly and then again in six months.

Week 20 :: Chelsea's Broken Arm

We got to go back and see her after she started to wake up a little. She was still really sleepy, so we let her take her time waking up. The nurse said that once the bones were back in their proper places, then the pain she had been in would be greatly reduced.

Week 20 :: Chelsea's Broken Arm

Once she was alert and had a little juice, they discharged her. In the children’s hospital, they wheel the kids out in a wagon instead of a wheel chair.

When we got home that afternoon, Chelsea got pretty grumpy just once which was probably from not giving her the pain meds soon enough. By the night, she had perked up some and was even asking to do things “myself” already. She did NOT want help sitting up or laying down on the bed and pillows. She worked hard to figure out how to do it without the the use of her left arm. She is going to have to figure out how to use her right hand more because she is left handed. Who knows, she might come out of this being right handed or at least ambidextrous!

Before bed, we gave her another dose of her pain meds and anticipated having to give her more in the middle of the night. We were going to let her sleep with us in our bed, but she wanted to sleep on the floor next to Mallory. By the morning, everyone (including Tessa) had migrated to our bed and eventually it was Jonathan on the floor. It is a good thing we have a king sized bed. Do they make anything bigger??

Jonathan went to work on Friday because he has a list a mile long of things to do. Chelsea did not seem to be in pain and was in good spirits again, so we did not give her any more pain meds (which is a great sign!). She did figure out that she needed help to do some things and would say, “too hard for me.”

Mallory is having a hard time with being extra gentle and sweet to Chelsea. And she does not understand why Chelsea has gotten a few special gifts. She cannot even manage to be a little extra nice to Chelsea even though Chelsea is sharing her new toys (and generally always shares with Mallory; the reverse is not true). We had been having a hard time with Mallory anyway with her outbursts and attitude. Chelsea’s situation is definitely not going to help with evening out Mallory’s temper.

Chelsea is one resilient little kid. We are so lucky that the doctors were able to fix her arm in the easiest way possible. We love her so much and think she will be back to herself in no time.

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3 thoughts on “Week 20, Days 6 & 7: Chelsea’s Broken Arm (long recap)

  1. Pingback: Second Giveaway Winner « LULUBLOOM: And now, she quilts.

  2. Pingback: Week 25 (June 18 – 24) « Wilke Family

  3. wow thxs for the wonderful story, me having broke my right arm, having to stay at home looking for things to read while trying to overcome the pain from last nights surgery. this blog really helped lift my spirits and give me the energy for the next days to come. thanks – randy

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