Two years after our daughter was born my wife finally felt comfortable taking a long weekend trip and left Allison home with Daddy to attend her college reunion 5 hours from home. I figured I would document the long weekend in detail with one of those cheesy time-line posts or maybe pie-charts with time spent doing certain activities. I had a little note-pad with me on Friday and started recording our time.
That all stopped when I broke Allison’s leg.
Friday started at 6:57 with Allison shouting for “Daddy!” from her crib. At 7:20 I failed to slice the apples correctly and they were rejected as breakfast. Oh well. Around 9, to give Heather some time to pack-up, I whisked the little one away to grab some go-food for the weekend at the local grocery. Allison was having a grand time shopping with Daddy bopping in her cart-seat to a collection of soul oldies on the in-store-radio. We returned about an hour later, unpacked and ate the apples (Heather had fixed them with cinnamon). Helped with the packing effort by starting a load of laundry. Allison helps to toss stuff in. 10:45 and it is time for Brunch. Honey Mustard dipping sauce with cauliflower and crackers. Heather managed to get out of the house only 20 minutes late at 11:20. Allison watched through the window then enjoyed a few minutes of threading pine needles through the screen. Spent the next half hour watching “Baby Einstein – Mozart” while I cleaned up brunch and pre-cooked dinner. Allison then wanted to go “Ow-side!” so we loaded into the stroller and rolled up to the sea-wall where she (re)discovered the fun that is tossing rocks into the bay and letting sand drift through her hands. Back home at 12:50. Spent 10 minutes flipping the laundry from washer to Allison who would then yell “Hup!” and toss it into the dryer. Back upstairs, Allison has a snack then watches Elmo brush his teeth on YouTube. Time for a nap! Allison sleeps until 4:00. Supernap! During her nap I load the car for adventure. When she wakes up I spirit her away and drop her into the car seat before she has a chance to fully wake up. She enjoys an early dinner of travel-sized Spinach Rotini while we drive down to Ocean County Park which takes around 50 minutes. We arrive at the park around 5:15 and I notice Allison isn’t wearing any shoes. Did I forget to put them on or did she kick them off while I was carrying her around as I loaded out? I deploy the backup shoes (Brown Crocs – a favorite) and we spend an hour watching tennis, spotting racoons and deer, playing with pinecones and finding a geocache. At around 6:20 we head for the playground … but it’s roped off. Danger! Keep out! I’m tempted to cross the line but instead load Allison into the Adventure Backpack and head west a half mile to the backup playground. Allison plays, slides and swings for 15 minutes but is getting hungry. I offer to let her go down one more slide. She’s capable of going down the slide by herself but not getting up to the top alone so I have to guide her up then she rides down in my lap. We’ve done it 100 times. This time she somehow gets her leg pinched between me and the side of the slide and the super-tacky-crocs yank her leg backwards pushed by our combined weight.
This is where I stopped keeping track of time and started going into denial. Allison started crying immediately and I figured she had twisted her ankle or knee from the way it bent back. I held her and offered comfort while trying to see if I could see any damage. Nothing apparent. Some drink and a snack bar calms down Allison but she’s obviously in pain. I’m a half mile from the car so we beat feet and, with as little jigging as possible, I powerwalk her back to the car. From her car-seat I test the leg… she’s able to bend it and is pointing to her knee and saying “Boo boo!” At this point I’m thinking a sprained knee… but there’s no visible swelling. We had originally planned on meeting some friends at a nearby chicken place (which is why I drove 50 minutes to this particular park). Change of plans – just drive straight home to get some ice on the leg and some children’s Tylenol. A few minutes into the ride Allison was calm again and finished her snack bar. Yes! The endorphins have kicked in and she’ll be fine. So I changed my plans back and went into the restaurant, met my friends, shared some chicken-chunks with ketchup and the whole time Allison didn’t complain or fuss. She sat there eating her nuggets… with a broken leg.
After maybe 45 minutes we drove home. She nearly fell asleep on the ride back and was very clingy asking for Mommy when we got home. I never even put her down. We got some ice… but there really wasn’t any noticeable swelling. I tested the leg again and she could still bend it. She got a good dose of ibuprofen and went to bed. And slept through the night… with a broken leg.
In the morning Heather’s mother came by. I had originally planned to attend an Earth Day beach-cleanup with the county parks folks but after coaxing Allison into trying to stand and finding she was unable we made an appointment at the pediatrician’s office instead. They got is in by 10:00 and by 10:15 had referred us to the hospital as X-Rays were deemed necessary. We opted for Monmouth over Jersey Shore since Allison was born there and hadn’t been back since. We walked into the main entrance looking for Radiology and were shunted into the emergency room. Apparently that’s the only way you can enter a hospital these days. I’m guessing insurance companies only pay if it was an “Emergency”. After being checked out briefly by the ER doc, Allison got to ride in the gurney bed to Radiology where she had a meltdown on the X-Ray table but they got what they needed and the images confirmed a radial fracture of the right fibula (See picture at left).
The pediatric doctor had to come in from Princeton so we had a few hours to wait. We killed the time by watching crazy “children’s shows” on TV with no sound and making games out of everything we could find in the diaper bag. Heather’s mother was kind enough to venture out to find some grub. Allison snacked on chicken and fries with apple juice and some other various snacks. She was very cranky as it was well past her nap time (and lets face it – it had been a very stressful day) so I crawled into the bed with her and she fell asleep on my chest. Right on cue – the doctor finally shows up. This was a blessing in disguise however as my little girl actually slept through getting her cast applied! We opted for purple over hot pink because she has more than enough pink already. A broken toddler leg in a nutshell: 4-6 weeks in the cast. She can walk on it but don’t encourage it for a few weeks. Don’t get the cast wet. Come back and see me again in 3 weeks. We left the hospital around 4:00. Allison woke up as we left but fell right back to sleep in the car snacking on crackers.
I had been keeping Heather abreast of the developments. You might think she’d be pissed because I ruined her get-away weekend but she was very supportive and didn’t lay on the guilt. This is one of the reasons I married her! It messed up Allison’s weekend pretty good but she got to take extra rides in the Adventure Backpack and didn’t seem to be feeling too much pain. It took a lot of convincing before Allison stopped asking us to take the cast off. I painted her toe-nails to match it but that only helped for a few hours. By the time Heather made it back Allison was able to stand on the cast without whimpering. Within a few days she was walking on it but hadn’t figured out the balance thing yet so she needed support. I caught her using her little pink chair like a walker to get from point to point. Over the next week she learned more how to deal with it and gets around by the old “butt-scoot” that she did when she was a year younger and has reverted to crawling. The biggest adjustments have been to routine. No more baths and the leg has to wear a bib during feedings. Even so, I just know that when we cut the cast off in a few weeks we’ll find an animal cracker wedged down in there. I already had to do surgery with a hemostat to remove some toilet paper that got stuffed down into the cast. Allison’s baggiest pants and our largest socks fit over the cast so we’re using what we can to protect it… but I think after a month the cast is going to look (and smell) pretty awful.
I hate to admit it, but there is a lot more TV time now and Allison asks for “Elmo” as much as for her parents. We re-purposed her old car-seat into a lounge-chair and she loves relaxing with the gang from Sesame Street. During the healing process we’re trying to not just turn on the TV but invent more interactive games to play. It helps that Allison received a bunch of new toys for her birthday. She has rediscovered some of the toys that we more mind or dexterity work than things she could throw and run after. The end result of all this may be that our little girl learns to slow down a bit and be more contemplative. Or… she’ll all of a sudden go nuts with a months worth of pent-up energy at the moment of cast-off. I’ll post back with an update when that happens.