The fracture

Last night, everything was grand.

We took the girls trick-or-treating at the residence halls on the university campus, and Phoebe filled her Halloween bucket with enough candy to get us through the next year. It’s a Halloween tradition I’ve been wanting to try since we moved to The ‘Ville, and it was totally worth it. Some of the students really decorated their rooms for the season.

Then, before calling it a night, we went to visit our friends, Jeff and Gina, at their home, where Phoebe received yet more candy. And there was Phoebe, rough-housing and wrestling with Jeff on the floor.

The girl has no fear. ...

Until  …

I was hard at work in my office today, pumping out another piece about all that is good about our university when my phone rang at about 3:30 p.m. It was Kates.

When I answered the phone, Kates was on the other end but distracted. I could hear crying in the background and Kates was asking, “Where does it hurt?”

After a couple seconds she noticed I had answered the phone call and said, “Phoebe just fell on the playground.”

I sighed a quick sigh and flipped my mental switch into crisis mode. This was bound to happen sooner than later.

Kates continued. Phoebe couldn’t move her arm and appeared to be in a lot of pain. Kates didn’t think she could strap Phoebe into her car seat. Without hesitation, I said I would meet them at the school so we could go to the hospital.

I dropped what I was doing and headed to the elementary school. After first heading to Kates’ classroom and then being directed by a custodian to the preschool classroom only to find no one there, I finally found them in a principal’s office. Phoebe was in a kid-sized lounge chair, clutching her arm, which had been placed in a small dinosaur. She was surrounded by Kates, a kindergarten teacher and one of the principals. I walked into the room, Phoebe made eye contact with me and she started balling. She was scared more than anything.

No one seems to know exactly what happened – the playground supervisor didn’t see what happened – but according to the kids, Phoebe was swinging on a bar above a slide when she fell and banged her elbow on the slide. All we knew was our next stop was the hospital to get her arm checked out.

“Daddy, I want you to carry me,” she said through the tears.

I scooped her up and we walked to my car. Kates took her place in the front passenger seat, and I set Phoebe in her lap. Since Phoebe couldn’t and wouldn’t move her arm, we agreed that was the best way to transport her – and, despite her pain, Phoebe thought that was pretty cool that she got to ride in the front seat.

Throughout this adventure, there were a few gems to come from Phoebe’s mouth, but, of course, now that the hours have passed I can’t remember most of them. The best came as we started the drive to the hospital and she muttered, “I hope I don’t have a crooked arm.”

At the hospital, Kates got Phoebe checked in as I continued holding her. And “Friends” was showing on the TV in the waiting room, so that was good. … (Kates and I have had it on a lot lately – TBS runs it non-stop, it seems – so Phoebe, naturally, has taken an interest in it, especially since it has a character with her name. And, no, it’s probably not a show a 4-year-old should be watching, but heck, I was watching stuff like “Three’s Company” and “The A-Team” when I was her age, and I turned out just fine, so I’m not going to sweat it.)

Eventually, a nurse directed us to a room in the emergency wing, where we met a couple more nurses who began checking Phoebe and taking notes about her symptoms. … After that phase of the adventure, I left to pick up Faye from her daycare, which is conveniently located next door to the hospital. I found her wrapped in a blanket and soundly asleep.

When I returned to the emergency room, a doctor was there and explaining the X-ray process. A few minutes later, a couple technicians wheeled an X-ray machine into the room. The tears started pouring from Phoebe’s eyes again, and the technicians gave their best effort coaxing Phoebe to rest her arm on a table so they could get their pictures while Kates stood by trying to comfort her. … It wasn’t as torturous as the night we had to put Phoebe through a CT scan, but that scared cry of your daughter never ceases to tear your heart.

When the doctor returned with the results, there was no definitive diagnosis. He said the X-rays showed something, but nothing serious enough that wouldn’t heal quickly. Meanwhile, I’m thinking, “Ok, doc, so what are we going to do about it? Let’s play it safe here. Spit it out.” … Finally, he told us they were calling it a Salter-Harris type I physeal fracture of the left distal humerus. The best thing to do was put her arm in a sling and bring her back to the hospital for a check-up in a week, although she may have to wear the sling for two or three weeks.

Two and a half hours later, we headed home – with a pit stop for Kentucky Fried Chicken on the way.

There won’t be any gymnastics for Phoebe for a while.

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