Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Smell ya later, spica cast! Our bizarre six weeks comes to a close.

Right now, Calvin is in the next room, snoring gently and lying on his back with his two rather spindly legs straight out in front of him, a bit toneless in muscle and flakey in the skin, but healed and whole and stable.

I feel as if I fell down a rabbit hole, six weeks ago, and just came back up.

We were just raking leaves, and the kids were peddling around the driveway, Audrey on her bike and Calvin on his scooter, when I saw him tip and then I heard him scream. The next few minutes, hours and days are a little sketchy in my memory but my main recollection is wanting to close my whole body around Calvin and prevent his pain.

How incredibly lucky we are to have medical care and treatment within a few minutes drive, and things like morphine (who ever imagined we'd be so excited to have our not-quite-3-year-old given morphine?) and pediatric orthopedic surgeons and everything else we needed-- friends. And family. And resources. And time for him to heal completely, with follow up care. Most children in the world have few of those things, or not enough of them. Many have none. I can hardly stand to contemplate this but children endure what Calvin went through without so much as an aspirin.

During the hospitalization, every doctor we spoke to, starting with the on-call pediatrician in the E.R., told us that we Calvin could have, and should have, and would have, the pain medication he needed and that we should ask for it, advocate for him, and make sure he got what he needed. About 180 degrees from what a parent would have heard in the past. (A thought that makes me feel sick for those children, and grateful on behalf of mine.)

Oh, and they've worked on bedside manner a lot in medical schools, it would appear. Example: late on the night of Calvin's accident, we have arrived at Children's Hospital Boston (transfered by ambulance from Winchester) and I've just been shown the x-ray. The break is so big, and so complete, that at first I don't even understand what I'm seeing. The doctor-- who is nine-- has to show me the line along which Calvin's one femur bone became two jagged, completely distinct pieces right below his pelvis. I am blank for a moment with horror-- and shame, and panic at how this must have hurt and still be hurting.

I blurt out that I probably made the initial break much worse by picking him up right away-- in my total ignorance-- and jostling him in my arms, trying to comfort him. I set him on the couch and put an ice pack on it, for heaven's sake and then sent Scott off to the hospital thinking we were being overly cautious. My voice may be going up a few registers. The nine-year old doctor steps very close to me, right into the space that no one ever steps into in the course of normal conversation, and says carefully, "It's very important that you understand this: you did not do anything to hurt your son." He puts his hand on my shoulder. Someone has told him to emphasize these words with warm but appropriate touch: I can tell. I want to crumple very quietly into a chair at this kindness, but I go back to Calvin, who is numbed and semi-asleep. He is tiny in the bed.


The sound of the little saw they use to remove the cast frightened him, and he cried, but he also smiled in between bouts of tears, and chatted with the nurses, before crying a little more. Last night he slept in his own bed again, instead of the beanbag he's been heaped onto each night. Every night we did a midnight "flip" from back to front and then from there until dawn, me, sleeping beside him, at his insistence, on an air mattress. (Being back in my own bed, too, is a welcome change.)

He is sore and his leg muscles are quite stiff but he was already taking some assisted steps today with the help of Judy, the lovely nurse who spent time with Calvin at home this month and stayed with him at school while he was in the cast. This morning when I left them both in his classroom he was seated on a beanbag (beanbag's are as essential, it turns out, to spica cast care as they are to dorm room decor) and he was just holding forth to his classmates about the whole thing, and pointing to his healed leg. I guess this was probably his last day of being a minor preschool celebrity and he was making the most of it.

He is already asking about his scooter.


Ellen said...

So happy to hear this experience is behind all of you! You will have stories of a little boy's bravery (and mom's too!) to tell for years to come.

Mom said...

Tell me more about this nine-year-old doctor....?