Road Trip #10 – The Broken Kid

On our last night in the vacation house in Grand Haven, Mr Pict and I were woken abruptly at 1.30am by a piercing yell.  Our 9 year old had fallen from the top bunk bed and his arm was hurting.  It was hurting a lot.  I had a good look at the arm, got him to move his fingers, looked at the shoulder blade and collar bone, and nothing seemed amiss visually.  But the level of pain he was experiencing in his upper arm was excruciating.  His father and I suspected it was broken.  We hoped it wasn’t but the only way to know for sure was to take him to the ER.

So at 2am, Mr Pict drove off to the ER with our little hurt one while I stayed home for the other three kids – who had amazingly slept through all the noise and hubbub.  They returned at 5am with the news that it was indeed broken.  It was a clean snap right through the front upper arm bone.  The ER doctor had put him in a splint and sling and told us to give him standard over the counter pain meds to manage the pain.  Our poor wee chap was officially broken in bone and in spirit.  He could see the rest of this road trip and summer vacation before him as being a long  and miserable struggle.

Remarkably I have made it over 40 years having never broken a bone in my body and over 13 years as a parent without one of my kids breaking a bone.  I am, as such, no expert in such matters.  However, even in our sleep deprived and addled states, Mr Pict and I felt we needed a second opinion as to the whole issue of the splint.  Our 9 year old could barely function with it as it held his arm at a 90 degree angle and was so padded that he could not get a clean shirt on.  We had to leave Grand Haven that day, however, and head to Chicago.  We needed to seek out a second opinion in Chicago.

We had crappy internet access in Grand Haven yet the internet still managed to help me as I reached out to a group of friends I call my Mommapedia and set them to googling and researching while we drove to Chicago.  They came up trumps and so upon arriving in the city we immediately headed to the Illinois Bone and Joint Institute that was running a walk-in clinic.  Exasperatingly and despite a change in time zones we arrived just too late for the walk-in service.  The receptionist, however, was sympathetic to our situation and asked if a doctor would still see our son.  Happily one would.

The upshot was that this doctor determined that there was no need for the splint.  The sling would keep the upper arm immobile enough since a clean break should start knitting back together pretty quickly in a 9 year old.  He had to be mindful of his arm and not allow it to get knocked or hurt in any way but the splint could definitely come off.  He recommended a follow up with an orthopedic doctor back home in a few weeks time.  That was it.  As parents, all we could do was trust the expert.  The 9 year old was elated to lose the splint.

As experiences go, this was not the first any of us anticipated or desired from our vacation.  Life does like to chuck those curve balls at us, doesn’t it?

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15 thoughts on “Road Trip #10 – The Broken Kid

  1. Yikes. Poor wee chap. Is he in much pain now? Upon reading I thought that you might indeed be missing the NHS. Oh sure, the waiting is long for some procedures- but for emergencies, like broken bones the NHS is pretty great. #Thankful

    • It’s not very painful any more. He just has to be careful not to use it and it’s often sore when he wakes up in the morning. I’m keen to get a repeat X-ray done to check it is knitting back together as the Chicago doctor predicted but our insurance company is causing technical glitches preventing us booking him in. I honestly could weep for how much I miss the NHS. The medical system here is broken.

      • Well, that’s good that your son is on the mend now. The medical system really IS broken. I had of course never thought it was, until I moved to the UK. I mean, as terrible and naive as it sounds-you get used to it. And you should never get used to a broken medical system. That is simply not ok. Even with insurance, you are still paying out loads of money. My mum recently had eye surgey. The 3 sets of eye drops she needed post operation came to 1K. And that was with Insurance pitching in. So terribly broken-you are right about that.

      • People disparage the NHS model on the basis of things such as access to care and waiting lists but it is no better here despite paying through the nose for it. And the layers of bureaucracy make accessing care difficult. It also shouldn’t be for insurance to decide in any degree the nature of your treatment; that’s a decision for medical professionals and patients to make. It’s abysmal.

  2. Aww what a terrible thing to happen but as you said life gives us curve balls. I hope he is pain free and is somewhat enjoying the rest of the vacation. With a clean break he will surely heal quickly. Sending big hugs to him and you! ❤

    • He did manage to enjoy most of the vacation. He was just sad to miss out on some activities – no tree climbing – and it necessitated some changes of plans. He seems to be steadily getting better.

  3. Yeowch! Get well soon, Pictling! And at least you’ve been able to ditch that splint early on… I imagine the last days of his holiday would have been a lot less fun if he’d been all trussed up. Here’s wishing him a speedy recovery!

    • Thank you. The splint was awful. It was holding his arm so rigidly that we couldn’t dress him or clean him properly. I had not anticipated that he would be told that he didn’t need a cast at all though. He was a bit miserable about not being able to swim in lakes or climb trees any more and we had to change plans for some activities but otherwise he managed well on the rest of the vacation. He seems to be mending well but that’s based on our own judgement. We’re experiencing a technical glitch with medical insurance compounded by them not answering the phone that is blocking us getting him in for a repeat X-ray. It’s very aggravating. I loathe the healthcare system here.

      • Oh, how annoying! I saw what you said in some of the other comments… You hear general rumblings about how bad US healthcare is, but it’s hard to believe until someone shares their first-hand experiences. It makes our system here in Ireland look quite rosy in comparison… And it’s no picnic! Hope you get sorted out soon 😃

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