I hope I never have another week like this one…

This past week was stressful.

Nathan has his first visit to the Emergency Room on Wednesday. We were at the park, having a good ole time together. We were the only ones there. We had initially met one of my friends and her kids, but after they left, I decided to let Nathan stay a bit longer. Then, a couple of men appeared from nowhere and walked around the play area, staring at us the whole time. Then they stood off to the side and talked to each other for a few minutes while continuing to stare at me and Nathan. They started walking back towards the play area, making me nervous… they were in their early-to-mid twenties and had no business hanging out at a playground without having kids there themselves. They sauntered over to the swings and proceeded to swing while still watching us.

I grabbed ahold of Nathan’s hand and told him that it was time to go. I’m not a paranoid person, but I started thinking that if I screamed, it would take the nearest person at least 30 seconds to run to us… that is, if anyone even bothered to help. I had tunnel vision- I was focused on getting us out of there so I wasn’t paying as much attention as I should have been to Nathan, therefore I was unable to anticipate what he did next.

When he saw we were walking back towards his stroller, he had a temper tantrum and collapsed into an angry little crying heap on the ground. Since I had a firm grip on his hand, it dislocated his elbow. I realized something was wrong when Nathan started crying in pain, grabbing his forearm with his right hand, and pinching his skin.

“Hurt! Scared, Mommy!” he wailed as he cradled his injured arm.

When I saw what I had done, I got sick to my stomach and almost threw up on myself. Fortunately, the hospital was just a couple blocks away, so we made a trip to the ER. The doctor was very nice and empathetic, and said that what happened is actually quite common and is called Nursemaid’s Elbow.  He was able to quickly maneuver the elbow back into place.

When the doctor told Nathan it was all done and okay to use his arm now, Nathan refused to believe him. He walked to the door and jiggled the door handle.

“Wanna go bye bye! Go home? Pweese? Home?” he cried as tears trickled down his cheeks.

“Not yet, little man. I need you to give me a high five so I can see that you move your arm,” replied the doctor.

“NO! HOME!” Nathan wailed pitifully.

“Come here, Nathan,” I said. As I gathered the boy up in my arms I said, “I’m going to kiss your elbow, and when I do, it’s going to be all better ok? No more hurt.” And I kissed his little arm up and down. When I was done, Nathan stopped crying, raised his arm to his face, and gave me a big tear-filled smile.

“All better, Mommy! Thanks!” he said happily.

Sometimes they just need Mommy’s kiss, huh?

Well, the story doesn’t end there, unfortunately. A couple days later, on Friday, we went to a Mommy Lunch. It’s hosted once or twice a month by a local hospital for moms (and dads too!). It’s free, and it lasts for about an hour. They have toys set out and volunteers there to watch the kids so the moms can enjoy a meal while the kids play. It was raining that day, so when it was time to leave, I held my purse, diaper bag (each weighing approximately as much as a Sumo Wrestler), and a giant umbrella with my left arm. I held on to Nathan with my right hand.

I wasn’t thinking.

And of course, in the parking lot, what did Nathan do?

He LUNGED away from me. While I was holding his hand. In the rain. With cars around.

So his elbow was dislocated a SECOND time in just two days.

Panicking, I picked him up and raced back inside. The lady who runs the mommy group is a nurse, so I went straight to her, told her what happened, and asked her if she could fix it. By this time, I was sobbing. I could not believe this happened to my child AGAIN… TWICE. She said that yes, she knew how to fix it, but she wasn’t legally allowed to so I would have to take him to the ER again.

Which would have been fine. But our insurance copay for emergency room visits is $100. We aren’t poor by any means, but we are a family of three living off of one income, a total of $200 for two ER visits is a lot of money to fork out unexpectedly in a span of just two days. So I relayed my concern to the nurse, and she is actually close friends with Nathan’s pediatrician.  A $25 copay for an office visit is much more manageable than $100. Unfortunately, she could not get ahold of him on his cell, so she tried calling the office. They said they preferred I take him to the ER. When she told them about the steep copay, they said they could look at him if we stopped first and got him x-rayed. That was so unneccessary… his arm was not fractured or broken. There was no swelling, no discoloration, and Nathan was running around the room playing.  He was not in nearly as much pain as he was when it happened at the park. I was waaaaay more upset by his dislocated elbow than he was.

So anyway, after the pediatrician’s office said that, I said I would call my husband and see what he wanted to do. I hated bothering him at work, and I knew he would be aggravated with me for holding onto the same arm that Nathan dislocated just two days prior. I feel so horrible for repeating the same mistake again. I’m supposed to protect my child from harm, not cause it.

Paul wanted to come by and see how it looked (since he was nearby anyway, finishing up his lunch break) and then we would figure out what to do from there. When he arrived, he took one look at Nathan’s elbow and said that we definitely needed to go to the ER. It wasn’t distorted or anything, but it was limp and it hurt Nathan to move it. Paul didn’t want to try to move the arm around and said it was best to let a doctor do it. It’s better to be safe than sorry…

SO. Back to the ER. We were taken into the triage room after only 5 or 10 minutes, ahead of the other people that were there. Once we were in the triage room (they recognized us since we were just there), a Physician’s Assistant came in, reset Nathan’s elbow in less than a second, and we were ready to go. He also showed me how to do it myself since this keeps occurring. As we were waiting on the paperwork, I talked to the triage nurse about what happened. I was a sobbing mess; I felt absolutely horrible for allowing this to happen again. She told me that yes, I was holding the same arm, but had I been holding the other arm, the it could have happened to the other arm. She said that some kids are just inherently more prone to it because of soft, growing ligaments and that it’s not something I should beat myself up over because it’s a fact-of-life; it happens. Some kids, she said, have been in the ER 10-15 times for it. It’s quite common and it’s something they see all the time. She also said it’s even more common in strong-willed children (like Nathan) because they try even harder to get away from their parents. Regardless, I still felt horrible.

So once the paperwork came, she sent me to checkout. And get this… they didn’t charge a copay!! Can you believe it? I even specifically asked if there was one, just to be sure, and they said no.

Wow. What a relief.

So I’ve come up with a plan to hopefully prevent this from ever happening again. Nathan has a little monkey harness. It’s like a tiny back-pack that straps around his chest, and it has a really long tail that the parent can hold on to. I haven’t used it yet because, I didn’t know this until I became a mommy, they are “controversial.” Some people are busybodies, and they opine that putting a child on a harness akin to treating them like an animal. They bloviate about how parents should teach their children not to run away from them, and how parents need to parent, and how “leashes” (as they love to call them) are the lazy way out.

Well, these people apparently have never had an abnormally strong-willed, exceptionally determined child with a habit of attempting to wrench himself away from the parent with such force that his elbow becomes dislocated. So their opinions about how I choose to keep my child safe are irrelevant to me. If anyone has the audacity to reprimand me for choosing not to risk another dislocated elbow, I will politely inform them them that this is my choice to keep my child safe due to being in the ER twice for a dislocated elbow. I am not going to be leading him around like a puppy. I will have him hold my hand and the harness will be a backup, that way if he lets go of my hand, there is no danger of him running into traffic, etc.

I’m so glad this week is over. It was emotionally exhausting. Nathan is perfectly fine now, though. After they reset it, any pain he had completely disappeared. There is no lingering pain, and he immediately regained full use of his arm again. He’s back to being his typical little self. I was more traumatized by the two ordeals than my child was. I hope it never, ever happens again. It’s such a nauseating, disheartening feeling to cause your child pain.


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