I was in ninth grade the first time I broke a bone—my nose. How old was I then? 14? 15? I’d been warming up in the outfield before an away game. I remember feeling nervous because I was one of the youngest players on the varsity team. I was afraid I was going to make a mistake and let everyone down. That afternoon, my coach hit a fly ball for me to catch, and I lost track of it in the sun. Nevertheless, I held my glove out and up in an attempt to catch the ball. Instead, I caught the ball with my face.
A year later—the following summer—I had been visiting my grandparents down in North Carolina all by myself. With no parents. One afternoon, while attempting to retrieve some ice, I pulled open the handle of the freezer door a bit too quickly, and a frozen beer mug—a staple in the Herb and Mary Yost freezer—crashed to the tiled kitchen floor around my feet. A shard of glass split the skin on the inside of my left ankle. My grandfather drove me to the nearby urgent care center where I got my first set of stitches.
I think I was pretty lucky to have made it to my teen years without having had much prior injury. My four-year-old, however, has not been so lucky.
Things first got grisly this past winter, a week or two before Christmas, when Nora was technically still three. One evening, she had been running from the living room into the kitchen when she tripped and fell and hit her head on the leg of the dining room table. I had been six months pregnant with Rowan at the time, and Frances and I had been enjoying our dinner. Liam had been in the car on his way home from work when it all went down. I called him right away and told him that I thought the open, bleeding wound would require more than just a compress and a bandage. I asked him to meet me at the urgent care center down the street from our house.
When all was said and done, Nora ended up needing four stitches. Liam stayed with her the whole time and said she did great. She never cried when they numbed and stitched her up. Instead, she talked and joked nonstop with the doctor, nurse and with Liam. That’s our girl.
I detailed Nora’s second encounter with danger when I wrote about the fireworks incident five or six blog posts back.
Then, a few weeks ago, Nora broke her arm. We had been at a birthday party for a neighborhood friend. It was at one of those indoor bounce places. We’d been to that bounce place several times before with no exciting incidents.
At the time of Nora’s injury, I had been sitting next to Frances on a bench. Nora had been running in and out of some houses close by, but I hadn’t had my eyes on her, trusting she knew where to find me if she needed me.
I was talking to Frances when Nora came running up to me crying and holding her arm. “Mommy, Mommy,” she cried. “I broke my arm!”
I held her close and—essentially—laughed behind her back and rolled my eyes at the other adults standing nearby, thinking: Yeah, right. She’s just being dramatic. Broke her arm. Really? Hahaha.
However, the longer I held her and tried to calm her, the more I could see she was really hurting. Still, I didn’t think she had broken her arm. She’s got a history of suffering from elbow injuries.
The first time this ever happened, Nora had been just eighteen months old. She’d been holding Liam’s hand while walking up the steps to the babysitter’s house when she slipped and lost her footing. Liam held tight to her arm and she dislocated her elbow.
We hadn’t known it at the time. She had cried, but Liam went on his way to work thinking she would eventually calm down.
When I came to pick Nora up after work, the sitter told us about how Nora had held her arm close to her side all day, and winced and whined every time she had had to move it. Gratefully, the sitter shared with us her thoughts on the injury, since her son had suffered from a similar injury—a pulled elbow—before.
I took Nora directly to urgent care, where, after I explained what had happened, the doctor confirmed the sitter’s suspicions. The doctor performed a reduction on Nora’s arm. She basically just extended Nora’s forearm, and then bent her elbow, pushing her hand and lower arm up toward her shoulder. This had been incredibly painful for Nora, but the moment the ligament went back into place, there had been instantaneous relief from the pain she’d been dealing with all day.
The second time Nora’s elbow joint slipped, my mom had been playing with her at my house. Nora had been lying on her back on the floor and had reached out her arms to my mom to be lifted up off of the ground. My mom pulled on Nora’s arms a little too hard, while yelling “Whee!” and Nora’s elbow got injured again. Frances was an infant then, and I remember playfully thanking my mom for coming over for a quick visit, only to injure my child and then not even stick around to help see us off to urgent care (she had had an appointment, I think, and felt terrible about not being able to accompany us to the doctor. Liam had been at work. Shocker.).
The third time Nora hurt her elbow I was prepared. I had seen the doctors reset her arm twice and had watched a Youtube video on how to fix a pulled elbow. So, I attempted to fix it myself, and it worked! Since then—and that was over a year ago—we hadn’t had any issues.
So, when Nora said she had broken her arm at the bouncy house, I assumed it was just another dislocated elbow. But I hadn’t seen her fall. And she said that she had landed on it, not pulled it. Additionally, the way her arm was shaking made me not want to mess around with it. So, before the girls got to enjoy any cake, we had to leave to drive to urgent care (including the above mentioned incidents, along with a minor head bump injury when she was just sixteen months old, this would have been Nora’s sixth visit to urgent care). We are still hoping there is not some kind of file on our family and Nora’s injuries at CYA (the local agency tasked with investigating cases of abuse and neglect concerning children).
Liam had been home watching Rowan, so he met the girls and me at urgent care. Liam and I were so puzzled as to why Nora had said she’d broken her arm. We weren’t sure how she knew what that meant, unless a classmate had had a broken bone, or she’d seen it on TV in a movie or a show. Liam asked if she had heard a noise when she landed on her arm, or felt anything funny. She said she hadn’t. We asked her how this injury felt different from her other elbow injuries. She wasn’t able to tell us.
As we sat in the waiting room, an exasperated Liam asked her, “Well how do you know it’s broken?!”
“Daddy!” she admitted, “I don’t even know what broken means!”
Well, clearly, she must’ve. The doctor gently tried to put her elbow back into place in case it was dislocated. When that didn’t offer any immediate relief, they x-rayed her arm and discovered a small fracture in the humerus at the elbow. Nora had been right all along. And, of course, I felt like a big asshole for having laughed at her after her fall. Mom of the year!
She’s been in a bright pink cast now for a few weeks. It comes off a week from Tuesday and hopefully all will be well in her little world again. She sure is one accident prone kid! And a brave one at that. ❤️