When my son, Mr. Sensitive, turned two Hubby and I wanted to have a big party. Not the kind of semi-wedding festivity that his first birthday was, but big enough to invite relatives from both sides to celebrate the birthday of their first grandson. I organized menus, guest lists, and ordered a nice store bought cake.
We decorated my parent’s backyard, set up patio furniture and fired up the BBQ.
On party day the whole event was less stressful than the drama of his first birthday, where relatives did not speak to each other and snobbed one another off beautifully. Including me, the host. After that day was done I did not talk to some relatives for a couple years. Oh, yes – it was one of those parties.
So let’s just say the guest list was severely edited this time around. It helps if you haven’t talked to people in about a year. Honestly, I’m still not speaking to some of those people. Fine. I’m over it. Really, I am.
So we approached the party with cautious optimism.
The day of the party, dressed in our finest summer wear, we greeted guests and served food. Mr. Sensitive toddled around the backyard. He was a late walker (he started at 16 months), so he was unsteady on his feet. This was before the Duchenne MD diagnosis. He was an early talker (at 9 months he could say moo, cat and moon). His daycare provider told us about how bright Mr. Sensitive was.
He commando crawled everywhere. He never did the classic crawl. We now know his hip and core muscles were too weak. Back then we just knew he slithered everywhere on his belly. We were starting to ask doctors about Mr. Sensitive’s weaknesses, and why his left foot turned out. No one took us seriously, and said, “He’s fine.”
That summer I was hugely pregnant with Little Miss Adorable. (Again, unknown to us Little Miss Adorable would have serious medical issues of her own.) As we finished eating dinner, guests were still speaking to each other. This was a good sign.
I walked out the patio door from the kitchen carrying the large Disney cake. Chocolate, with Winnie the Pooh decorations.
Mr. Sensitive was toddling around beside my parent’s garden shed. My parents have a large backyard, filled with fruit trees and flowerbeds. We were on the lawn near the house. Mr. Sensitive was exploring the garden shed at the end of their yard.
Mr. Sensitive turned, and fell.
Guests were seated at the patio table, waiting to sing happy birthday. I put the cake on the table. Hubby was sitting at the end of the table and watched Mr. Sensitive fall. Mr. Sensitive sort of pivoted in a circle when he fell, his foot still planted in the soft earth.
He lay on the ground. Still as death.
Then he started to scream and writhe.
I thought he fell on a nest of ants, and they were biting him. Hubby was at Mr. Sensitive’s side instantly. I yelled at Hubby to pick him up. Hubby just stood there, looking at my son screaming. I later found out Hubby was following first-aid protocol for a suspected neck or spinal injury. As soon as Hubby saw Mr. Sensitive move a limb he scooped him into his arms.
I waddled down the backyard. Mr. Sensitive was screaming, clutching Hubby’s neck and wriggling like he was trying to get away from his leg. That leg was not moving.
Hubby and I knew instantly – it was broken. We thought the break was between his knee and ankle, his lower leg. Hubby carried Mr. Sensitive to our shocked guests and announced that we were going to the hospital. I invited them to coffee and cake. We left, our guests still sitting in patio chairs, the Winnie the Pooh cake in front of them.
On the way to the car, poor two year-old Mr. Sensitive was sobbing and wanted to be carried by me.
We strapped him into his car seat. He screamed.
Luckily the nearest hospital was less than five minutes away. Hubby parked the car, I waddled inside. The waiting room was miraculously empty. I marched in, with Mr. Sensitive on my hip and my huge belly jutting forward. I approached the triage desk, explained that we suspected Mr. Sensitive fractured his leg. The triage nurse touched my son’s leg. Mr. Sensitive screamed. Then triage nurse pointed to the empty waiting room and directed me to ‘take a seat.’ I looked around. No one was there. Summer holidays.
Every time I moved Mr. Sensitive cried. In a state of shock, I actually tried to squeeze my 6 month-pregnant body with a toddler on my hip into one of those stupid seats. Mr. Sensitive screamed.
I told the triage nurse to find me a place to stand, because I was not taking a seat.
We were then directed to a bed.
To get Mr. Sensitive into the bed I had to lean forward with him still wrapped around my neck. The new nurse (definitely NOT the triage nurse) pried Mr. Sensitive’s fingers off of me and quickly set up a DVD in the TV. Madagascar played. He stopped screaming as cartoons took their narcotic hold.
As soon as I knew Mr. Sensitive was not looking at me, I burst into tears. There is nothing worse than seeing your child in pain and being completely unable to stop it. The nurse pushed a chair toward me, helped me sit in it and gave me a hug. I am still grateful to that woman. She humanized a horrible situation.
Hubby arrived and helped wheel Mr. Sensitive on the gurney into the X-ray room. I was not allowed to in (being hugely pregnant). I just paced the hallways and cried. I could hear Hubby telling Mr. Sensitive that there’s a camera in the ceiling and to say ‘Cheese’ and smile.
Once the doctor read the X-ray a fracture was confirmed. But not in his lower leg. Mr. Sensitive fractured his femur, the toughest bone in your body. The break was a ‘spiral’ fracture, and went from his knee to his hip. We found out later this type of fracture is highly correlated with child abuse because of the force needed to break this bone.
We also found out that we would need to go to the fracture clinic at the partnering hospital tomorrow morning. The doctor recommended we get there by 6:30 AM because ‘it’s first come, first served.’ It was now after midnight. We would go home tonight with a temporary splint and prescription for codeine.
Imagine putting a toddler with a splint from his hip to his toes in a carseat. Imagine the pain involved as bones and muscles move. Imagine YOU are the one inflicting this pain on your child. You cause the screams. Imagine the pain you feel as a parent.
I will never forget that night.
This post will be continued tomorrow…