The Saga of Baz’s Arm

Last night around 7:30pm, Baz was sliding around on his brand new pirate socks. The house was newly cleaned and there was a lot of extra open hardwood floor to slide on. Even so, we were nervous. Kay was just telling Baz to stop before he got hurt (like, the words were just coming out of her mouth) when Baz fell.

His feet went out from under him and he fell back, landing hard on his elbow. It only took one look at his face when he stood up to know that it was more than just a bad bruise or something. Kay, having more experience than me with injuries of that nature, took a quick look at Baz’s elbow and declared that we were going to the E.R.

By the time 30 seconds more had passed, Baz was in a whole lot more pain. It was really obvious to us: Baz is the stoic type, he usually cries for half a minute when he hurts himself, and has forgotten about it half a minute later. Here, things were getting worse, not better.

Kay and I were ready and taking Baz out the door within two minutes. (I say “ready”, & we were good enough for the moment. More on that later.) We got Baz into the car & I drove as fast as was safe to Somerville Hospital.

At SH they determined pretty quickly that Baz had, in fact, broken his right elbow. Specifically, he’d broken the humerus bone. They told us it was the most common arm break they see. They managed to get one x-ray of it before Baz was really hurting and they had to stop, but the break was visible even to me and Kay. Baz was still in a lot of discomfort, so they gave him some child morphine to ease the pain, put his arm in a splint, and called to arrange for us to have him seen by a pediatric specialist at Mass General Hospital.

(“We are not amused.”)

By the time we got Baz into the car again he was feeling better – not good, but controlled. We drove (uneventfully, thankfully) to MGH.

I dropped Baz & Kay off & went to park the car. By the time I got back to them, Baz was clearly feeling better (or feeling the effects of the morphine) because he was doing his usual thing and charming the socks off of every single person he met. They got him set up and examined again, and then sent him for more x-rays because they had to be absolutely sure that they knew exactly what they were dealing with. Fortunately for Baz they were able to do the x-rays straight through his splint, so it didn’t hurt him too badly. He turned on the charm (and the extremely funny morhine-induced comments) to charm printed copies of the x-rays out of the techs for him to look at later.

(Baz – while on morphine, admittedly – decided that this x-ray rig
looked like Wheatley in Portal 2)

They decided after looking at the new x-rays that Baz needed a surgical procedure. They would insert 2 tiny pins into his elbow to hold it in place, and then put a cast on it. But they couldn’t do it that night, so they admitted Baz to stay overnight at the hospital.

The room was pretty nice, but of course there wasn’t a lot of room for other people; there was a chair that folded out into a tiny bed, and another regular chair.

After we got Baz settled in (and out like a light), I drove home. By this point it was about 2am. We’d realized that in our haste we’d left the house with all the windows open, and the cats were unfed. We were also missing some things: We’d remembered insurance info and a change of clothes for Baz, but Kay’d left in what she was wearing, and I’d just tossed on what I could grab – so I was in shorts and a t-shirt (and therefore freezing), and only one sock.

As we were frantically running around to leave the house, I’d discovered that all my socks were in the wash and we didn’t have time to wait, so I dug out one sock and put it on before leaving. Before driving from SH to MGH, I switched the sock from my left to my right foot because my driving foot was getting chafed from the shoe. When we were at MGH I managed to snag one of those rough hospital socks they give people, but I was still uncomfortable.

So I went home, secured the house, fed the cats, put together a bag of stuff to take back to the hospital, and collapsed into bed for a few hours. But I got up fairly early so I could get back to the hospital.

The night before they’d told us that the docs start doing their surgeries at 5am, and they couldn’t tell us when they were going to work in Baz. So I wanted to get back asap just in case. It’s a good thing I did because just about ready to go, Kay called to tell me that they’d told her Baz would be in by noon. And when I was about 3 blocks away, Kay texted me to say they’d moved him up to “any minute now”.

I parked and got to the elevator so damn fast… Reached the room and then we sat around for a while before it happened anyway.

Baz was mostly cheerful during the lead-up to surgery. We kept him amused with making fun of the blue scrubs thingies they made us put on. We talked to various doctors and anesthesiologists and signed consent forms, and then we went in. Baz was clearly nervous but held up really well. I tell you, it will freak out ANY parent to watch as a gas mask is laid over your child’s mouth and then his eyes roll up into his head and he passes out. I know it was normal and expected and everything but crap I’d like to never see that again, thanks.

After that there was no point in our being there for the actual procedure, so we took off our scrubs and were shown to a waiting room. When we got there we looked at the clock, and lo and behold it was almost exactly noon. So their initial prediction was pretty close.

We spent the next hour or so fidgeting with our phones trying to distract ourselves from our anxiety. I exchanged emails with my mom, who was coming over to see Baz (and bring me and Kay food – we hadn’t eaten anything except bagels early that morning).

The doc came out to tell us that the procedure went as well as could be hoped for, which was a huge relief. Then a bit later a nurse came to lead us to the post-op room where we could see Baz again.

When we got to him Baz was crying and refusing to open his eyes. Some of it was reacting to the meds, but he was also clearly upset to have woken up to a room of strangers. When Kay and I got there he started to calm down, tho his emotions were still roiled from the meds. The docs and nurses told us that after a couple hours the meds would have worn off enough that we could take him home.

My mom arrived, and stayed with Baz (who was much calmer by then) while Kay and I ducked into a food-safe room to wolf down the food mom brought. Then we went back and spent the time talking to Baz, just trying to make him feel calm & more relaxed (the nurse wanted to see his blood pressure drop, it was a bit high), and giving him his first food and drink since the night before. We told him that his cast was a very nice shade of green (they let him choose his color!) Baz did manage to fall asleep – real sleep – for a while, which was really good.

(Shh! There’s a boy under all those pillows…)

It’s hard to gauge exactly how much of Baz’s discomfort from moving is actual pain, and how much is not wanting to move, or expectation of pain. But suffice to say Baz didn’t want to walk around himself, and the idea of being carried seemed to make him nervous, so we got a wheelchair to wheel him out to the car. My mom was a really big help, both with keeping Baz calm and with dealing with stuff which freed us up to focus our attention on Baz’s comfort. Thanks mom!

We got Baz in the car & back home without too much trouble. He spent the rest of the day reclining on the couch, watching some tv, playing one-handed, and slowly eating. He conked out pretty early (while I was out picking up his pain med prescription), but we woke him long enough to give him some meds and give him some more food before transferring him to his bed for the night.

Overall, considering he broke his arm, it could have been so, so much worse. Baz is so hardy and generally cheerful and he’s really good at telling us (or the docs & nurses) when he likes/dislikes something, when something hurts or is better, etc. He got through the early part much better than I feared. The next 4 weeks with the cast are going to be challenging, especially the next few days while he gets used to having it, but I think he’ll adapt pretty quickly.

MANY thanks to all those of you who emailed or tweeted your thoughts to Baz! We read them all to him and they seemed to really cheer him up!

We’ll keep you posted on any new important/exciting developments. Tomorrow I may do another post on the multiple instances of irony which surrounded Baz’s injury.

Close communication.

4 thoughts on “The Saga of Baz’s Arm”

  1. With a fall on his elbow he must also have strained (or sprained) his shoulder. Which hurts too, even if no broken.
    Poor little mite. I am glad all seems to be ready for having him heal nicely now.
    Hugs to all.

    1. He keeps insisting that the only place it hurts is the elbow, but he’s also hesitant to lift it at all, even in the cast, so you could be right. We’ll keep an eye on that too. It could be that the pain from his elbow was distracting from any other pain.

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