Tate and the High Swing

Wednesdays are long days for our family. I’m at work before 6 to be on conference calls with my coworkers in Europe and Asia. Megan typically is at work until after dinner or bedtime, depending on what is going on at church. A neighbor picks up Tate from school and Japser has spanish class until 4:30 or 5. Yesterday was one of these typical Wednesdays.

I left work around 3 and went straight home to have a little down time before the boys came home. It was nice to have a little quiet time and I hung out with the other parents in the yard while I waited until it was time to get Jasper. Tate was playing at the school playground with friends after school, as they typically do.

I went to get Jasper and Tate was home by the time Jasper and I got back. It was so nice outside that I didn’t want to go in. We played for a while.

I was sitting and talking with some of the other parents when all of a sudden I hear Tate cry out. This happens all the time and I wasn’t immediately concerned. I turned around to find him and he was calmly walking toward me holding his right arm close.

It was clearly broken.

Clearly broken.

Tate had been climbing on a swing that he had rolled up to about 5 feet off the ground and he fell off.

A bunch of the parents and I ran over to him and I picked him up. He was pretty unsteady on his feet. We sat down on the ground to have a look. His arm was bending at a place that it shouldn’t be bending.

One of the moms volunteered to drive us to the ER and one of the other families volunteered to watch Jasper until Megan got home. We have awesome friends and neighbors.

Just as I was getting Tate buckled into the car seat, Megan called to say that she was heading home. I interrupted her to say that Tate and I were heading to the ER… just what she wanted to hear, I’m sure. She said she would pick up Jasper and meet us at the ER.

Tricia drove us the 8 blocks to the ER at Comer Children’s Hospital. Tate sat quietly in back. I watched him rolling his head around in the side-view mirror. I was shaking with the nerves and adrenaline.

I carried Tate into the ER and they got us in after only a few minutes. The nurse took one look and said “yep”. We got the vital stats done and the nurse showed us to our private ER room. The Comer Children’s ER is quite nice.

The nurses started hooking Tate into the machines and asking questions about what happened. At the start, they were pretty sure that he would have to be sedated to have the bone set, so they asked about the last time he ate. Unfortunately, he had just ate an after-school snack. This meant that we needed to wait at least another 5 hours before they could sedate him and set the break. It was going to be a long night.

They put an IV into Tate’s hand and gave him a small dose of morphine. Tate said that we all looked like we were in 3-D and that he was happy. He said this many times. It was a nice diversion to the mess of his forearm.

Close x-ray of Tate's broken arm
Close-up of the fracture.

It was still just Tate and I and we wheeled into the X-Ray Department. Tate sat in my lap at a little x-ray table. We took lots of x-ray pictures and Tate did a great job of putting his arm where the X-Ray Tech wanted him to put it. He didn’t cry out or complain even once while we were moving and twisting his arm. He did such a good job that the tech gave him a set of Star Wars trading cards.

The x-rays confirmed what we already knew. Both bones were broken an inch or two above the wrist. But, it also appeared that the break wasn’t complete. The X-Ray Tech called it a “Swan Neck” break.

We rolled back to our room and Tate got back into bed. The morphine was still in full force, so he and I had some interesting conversations while he watched Ninjago on the Cartoon Network.

Not long after, Megan and Jasper joined us. We hadn’t had dinner yet and it was well past our usual dinner time. Megan wanted to have some time with Tate, so Jasper and I wandered out to find some food. We shared a sandwich and brought one back for Megan.

After we finished dinner the bone doctor came in to do the official diagnosis and tell us what they were going to do to fix Tate’s arm. The doctor said that the fracture wasn’t complete, so they would have to complete the break before they could reset it. To do this, Tate would need to be “conscience sedated”. This meant that he would be awake, but so far in la-la land that he wouldn’t feel anything, and even more importantly, he wouldn’t remember the procedure.

We still had a couple hours to go before they could give him the sedation drugs, so we turned out the lights and watched some movies and TV. Tate fell asleep.

Tate on drugs.
Tate on drugs.

The time came for the procedure. The doctors wheeled him in his bed down to the procedure room. We followed and stayed with them until he was sedated. It was interesting watching my 6-year-old getting high on ketamine. Almost immediately I saw his eyes glass over and he started saying things that were even more strange than usual.

Megan, Jasper and I went back to our ER room and waited for the doctors to finish the procedure. I don’t think we waited even 15 minutes before Tate was back with a big, plaster cast on his right arm. It went from his wrist, over his thumb all the way up to his armpit.

We wheeled back to the X-Ray Department for a couple post-procedure pictures. The bone doctor showed them to us and they looked good. The bone doctor said that in three months we’d never be able to tell that the bones were broken.

The doctors had one more thing to do. They needed to split the cast open so it could have room to expand with the swelling that was sure to come with Tate’s arm. He pulled out a rather mean looking plaster saw. He showed Tate that it was safe by running the blade on his own skin without cutting himself. Again Tate did great. He didn’t flinch or complain at all as the noisy saw split the cast. Jasper though, didn’t like it at all. He snuggled into Megan crying that the doctor was cutting Tate.

The doctor wrapped the split cast in an ace bandage and we were done. They sent us home telling us to keep him on non-Aspirin pain medicine for the next couple days and to loosen the cast if Tate’s fingers swelled up. It was about midnight.

Tate was hungry and he had seen commercials on the Cartoon Network for Trix, so that’s what he wanted. We drove down to the 24-hour Wallgreens to get Trix. Both boys ate Trix at 12:30am. Megan and I were too tired to care…

I slept with Tate in his bed because he didn’t want to be alone. The doctors said that one of the side-effects of the ketamine could be weird dreams. So, I figured it would be a good thing to be with him in case he woke up with nightmares.

Tate snoozing on the couch
Tate snoozing on the couch.

Instead of waking up in the middle of the night, he woke up at 5:45am ready and raring to go for the day.

He didn’t make it long. By 7 he was laying on the couch all bundled and propped up. This would be how most of the rest of the day would go.

By the afternoon, he was ready to go outside. We were eager to see our neighbors and have them see Tate to know he was doing well.

We went out just ask the kids were getting back from school. Tate and I went down into the yard to see everyone and share the story of our time at the hospital. Tate picked up right where he left off, albeit a bit slower. Everyone was happy to see Tate and the kids started signing Tate’s cast.

Simon and Tate
Simon and Tate

Tate wore out pretty quick, but he wanted to keep going. We stayed out as long as we could.

We are truly thankful for our wonderful friends and neighbors. Without them, this would have been a much more stressful incident. Thank you, friends.

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