baby proofing

What Happens When Your Child Breaks A Bone

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Apparently, we have bad luck with our kids and their bones. When our son was two, my husband took him down a playground slide in his lap. His foot got caught on the slide and my husband’s 200-lb body kept pulling downward breaking his tibia. It was a spiral fracture and required about 9 weeks in a cast. Obviously, it sucked but all was well in the end.

That was three years ago and I thought we were probably safe from broken bones for at least several more years, if not forever. After all- neither my husband nor I or any of our siblings had ever broken any bones and we figured our son’s leg was an unfortunate blip we would probably never have to revisit. Fast-forward to this weekend at a BBQ at our friend’s house. Our daughter was running through the lawn and fell on her arm. At first, we thought she was just being dramatic but several hours and a trip to urgent care later, we were proven very wrong. She has a broken forearm and all the tears and drama that go with it. It was a long process getting to that point so sit back and cringe while I explain to you what goes down when your child breaks a bone:

1. The injury

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Your child comes running up to you in tears, like she has done so many times before. She fell and you figure she needs a hug and maybe an ice pack (they cure everything). As this is not unusual, you barely bat an eye but look her over, just in case.

2. Denial

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No blood, no visible signs of damage and the tear flow has slowed considerably. Her arm couldn’t possibly be broken, she barely fell! You kick back with your mom cocktail and figure everything is ok. You send her back to the yard with her friends.  You have chatting, eating and drinking to do!

3. Reassessment

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Huh. It’s been about two hours and she’s still got her arm tightly by her side not lifting it even when she doesn’t think anyone is looking. She’s got a penchant for drama and is a pro at making a big deal out of nothing (and faking sick) but even for her- this is meaningful. Your husband decides to take a closer look and notices swelling that was not there before. Maybe it’s time to take this more seriously…..

4.Time to freak out

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At this point, it’s a pu-pu platter of panic seasoned with a healthy dose of guilt. Why didn’t you take her more seriously?? What kind of horrible parent brushes off their child’s complaints of not being able to make a fist and sends them off to play on their friend’s Powerwheels?!

5. Urgent care waiting room

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You leave your other child with your friends and haul ass to the nearest urgent care because you assume the ER on a holiday weekend will pretty much look like the mid-stages of the zombie apocalypse. However, urgent care is not much better and the wait is long. You hiss “TOUCH NOTHING” at your child as she sits stock-still in the waiting room chair with a snot-covered 4th grader next to her asking if she wants to play with his tablet. No thanks, kid.

6. The Doctor will see you now

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Having dealt with a child with a broken bone you already know how this will go- they want to hear exactly how it happened complete with a charades-style demonstration if possible. Sadly, this is so they can rule out abuse. This is basically the worst.

7. X-rays and bad news

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Your child screams through the x-ray as the tech has to move her limb in ways she does not want it moved in order to get the right images. You head back to the waiting room afterward with a Popsicle from a kindly nurse and wait for the results. The doctor walks in and by the look on her face you already know- it’s broken. Cue the tears (yours) and the giggles (hers- she is now excited for her cast and the chance to tell all her friends about her exciting tale).

8. Going home

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You head home- exhausted and full of Mom Guilt and regret. Why didn’t we just put her in a bubble? Or on a leash? Why didn’t we follow her around the yard and make sure she didn’t so much as step on a pebble? “YOU COULD HAVE PREVENTED THIS”, you think irrationally. You look at your child asleep in the backseat with her sad little sling on her arm and wish with all of your might that this was just a bad dream…

As you make your way through the next 6-10 weeks trying to keep the cast dry, helping her scratch the itches beneath it and showing her how to write with her other hand you start to realize how truly lucky you are. Not to have a child who broke a bone, but that this is just temporary for you. You gain a new awareness for parents with children who have life-long health struggles. A broken bone is awful- your child is in pain, it’s a huge inconvenience on every level and it changes life as you know it for several weeks. However, with a little perspective, you realize that it will all be over soon and you can go back to normal. Hopefully, you retain that perspective as time marches on and the memory of it all starts to fade. Like everything in parenthood, it’s a lesson learned and an experience to file away for next time. Well, hopefully with things like this, there is no next time.

(Image: Ilya Andriyanov/Shutterstock)

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