Breaking bones

Around 11 o’clock last Tuesday, I was in a meeting with limited cell phone reception. A message suddenly came through announcing that I had 9 new voicemail messages. Excusing myself, I listened to the messages, 5 were from Alex’s preschool. All the messages went something along the lines of “Hi, it’s Gina again, Alex has fallen and hurt his arm quite badly, we need you to come and get him!”, the urgency rising in her voice with each subsequent message.

I got to the school as quickly as I could, but driving from Bryanston to Senderwood late morning holds a ton of traffic along the way. I got to the school 45 minutes later. The poor boy was sitting in Pre-school reception with his teacher, clutching his damaged arm. The accident report said that Alex had fallen off the monkey bars on the green jungle gym at 10.45 AM. The teacher had wrapped his arm in a splint and an ice pack. His eyes were swollen from crying, and as soon as he saw me he started to wail. And I started to cry too. The teacher that had seen him fall appeared out of nowhere with a glass of water and some rescue remedy. “Drink this, you’re going to need it!”

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(As luck would have it, Gary was away in Knysna playing golf. He also discovered a few voicemails on his phone from the school when he came off the course at around one.)

I got him to casualty as quickly as I could, trying to navigate pot-holes and speed-bumps along the way as gently as I could. There was no parking at the hospital and I ended up parking at the ass-end of nowhere. Luckily a golf cart was on hand to take us to the building, and the driver kindly organised me a wheelchair to take him down to casualty. They rushed us through as soon as we got in, as it was evident that Alex was in a huge amount of pain. By this point he was screaming like someone had chopped his arm off. They gave him some pain killers (2 x 25mg Panamor and 2 x 250g empaped) but they didn’t even take the edge off. He must have cried for 3 hours solid before he literally passed out from the pain. (Side note: I saw his paed the day after, and after looking at his x-rays on the hospital system, he was completely surprised and annoyed that they hadn’t given him morphine in casualty! On a positive note, there was no damage to his growth plates.)

The x-ray revealed that he had broken both the radius and ulna clean through about a centimeter from the wrist. The bones were close to having pierced his skin. He needed to have surgery to fix it. His arm was buckled into an unnatural position.

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We then got taken to the ward and waited for the surgeon. The surgery was scheduled for 4PM. He was very scared at the prospect of surgery, and kept begging me to take him home. It was absolutely heart breaking, I felt so sorry for him, and sorry that I couldn’t take his pain away. The doctor manipulated the bones back into place under anesthetic and had to secure the bones with wires, which they put in through the skin. (Which are incidentally removed in 4 weeks time under anesthetic, by literally pulling them back out through the skin. Ouch.)

We were eventually discharged just after 7PM, with his arm in a half cast and sling. What a day!

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On the bright side he wasn’t in a lot of pain anymore, and managed to have a fairly good night’s sleep. He even insisted on going to school the next morning, and was quite the hero amongst his peers. (Caris, however, was completely horrified that her brother was broken and couldn’t stop crying when she saw him. Sweet girl.)

Yesterday we went to have the half cast removed and a hard one applied. (The poor boy has been like a caged animal for the past week, and all he has been wanting to do is run and be physical!) He was so excited to go to school today so that his friends could write and draw on it. I am amazed at how quickly he seems to be recovering from what was a very nasty break. Even the orthopedic surgeon remarked that children have an incredible ability to heal and just get on with things.

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Case in point: playing soccer in the garden with his sister, cast and all!

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The Joys of Parenting. Not

Alex has a nasty bug brewing in his tonsils, and has literally been man-down since Saturday afternoon. (Unless you count the half an hour or so windows after the Neurofen Syrup has been imbibed, and he is bouncing off the walls for a little bit. What DO they put into that stuff?) It is heart-breaking watching him in this very poor state, and I have been having flash-backs of our time in December / January when he was so sick that I didn’t know what to do. His temperature has been yo-yo-ing between 38 and 40 degrees the whole time.

On late Sunday afternoon, we ventured out to the Linksfield Hospital, to see if someone could help my ailing boy, and help us get his constantly rising temperature down, but the whole trip was a disaster. The Casualty section was very busy, and completely disorganised. We waited for over half an hour, before we had even done the paper-work, and it was freezing in the waiting room. Poor Alex was sitting on my lap shaking, with his lips turning blue (despite having about 4 layers of clothing on) and his temperature rising even more. With no prospect of being seen imminently, we decided to leave. When we got home, I raided the medicine box to see if we had anything other than Calpol, Empaped or Voltaren suppositories, because clearly none of these were helping to sink the 40 degree temperature. I found a bottle of Neurofen Syrup that was still sealed, and thankfully had not expired. 5ml and half an hour later: temperature gone. A few SMS’s were fired off to one of my friends who is a GP, and an agreement reached to take him into her rooms first thing in the morning. I already knew he had tonsilitis, as he had that something-crawled-into-his-mouth-and-died smell on his breath.

Neurofen has about a 4 hour window of effectiveness it seems, as by 10 PM we were back to a 40 degree temp, this time accompanied by vomiting. Queue Empaped suppositories, as those at least stay in. (Despite the fact that having a suppository administered is probably number one on Alex’s list of stuff he hates. Poor little guy.)

So, bright and early on Monday morning, we were in the doctor’s office, Alex once again sitting on my lap like a hot potato and shivering because he was so cold. Temp reading: 39. The doctor confirmed tonsilitis and sent us packing with a script for antibiotics and more Neurofen to keep the temperature at bay. While filling the script, I asked the pharmacist to give me a dose of the Neurofen syrup to try and get a handle on the temp before we got home. As soon as he swallowed the gloopy liquid, it came straight back out again. Along with the only bit of liquid that had passed his lips since Saturday, which happened to be blue energade. I had to choice but to catch his blue vomit in my hands. Yuck. Not exactly a feel-good parenting moment.

He spent the rest of the day, and all of Tuesday pretty much like this:

(wash, rinse, repeat)

Thankfully, this morning, for the first time since Saturday he woke up without a temperature, and he even had enough energy to give me crap a challenge getting him dressed. So it seems he is on the mend. *crosses fingers*

Caris, however, woke up with the snottiest nose I have seen in a long time. Oh, the joys of parenting.

Hello 2012!

It’s January 1st and I feel like I have been out partying all night. Although my “hangover” is due to a lack of sleep and not over-indulgence. Alex has been sick for almost two weeks. Our holiday has included 2 trips to the emergency room (real trips this time) and one visit to a GP. He has had temperatures of 40, on and off for the last 4 days, so with doses of Calpol, 2 courses of antibiotics, voltaren suppositories and wrapping him in tepid towels we have been playing yo-yo with his temperature. Alex tends to vomit when his temp exceeds 38, so we’ve been cleaning up a lot of that too.

So last night, just after midnight while everyone was screaming happy new year and letting off noisy fireworks, I was running a tepid bath for my poor, poor boy. He spent the rest of the night sleeping in between us, feeling like someone had sneaked a hot potato into our bed. Wash, rinse and repeat at about 4, including more vomiting, and diarrhoea for good measure . To add to our woes, we found out from the chemist yesterday, when we filled the script for the top-up antibiotics and more voltaren suppositories that the casualty doctor grossly over-prescribed when giving us the suppositories, and the antibiotics. So I am hoping with all my soul that the 3 suppositories that were more than double the dose he should be having for his age and weight, have not caused any lasting damage. (Caris slept through the whole ordeal).

I’m definitely sending an email to hospital management.

So the start to the year has not been a good one, and I am really worried about my boy.

2011 was an interesting year, with a mix of highs and lows.

We were in Ballito last year as well, and I remember standing in the shower on the morning of January first, and crying my eyes out. I was 22 weeks pregnant with Caris, feeling very sorry for myself and my unplanned pregnancy. Gary was grumpy with me because we had stayed home on New Years eve, and to top it off, I had had a huge argument with Craig on Christmas day that was still creating an uncomfortable vibe in the house. Then to add more fuel to the fire, Stuart said something that really pissed me off, and as I stood in the shower drowning my sorrows, I contemplated walking away from everything, playing scenarios of being a single mom of two in my head. (Cue dramatic music) Step-parenting sometimes sucks in a big way, and I’m still waiting for my medal in the post.

So now that I think about it, 2011 got off to a shitty start as well.

Some Lows:

* “The terrible twos”: clingyness, whining, general non-compliance (exacerbated by the impending arrival of a new baby)
* My mother being hospitalised for pneumonia, which gave me a huge wake up in terms of my childcare “plan B”
* My father being diagnosed with macular degeneration
* Saying goodbye to some toxic friendships
* A divorce in the family

A Few Highs:

* The birth of my sweet baby girl, little Miss-happy, Caris. Watching her grow and develop and turn into edible cuteness.
* Alex starting school, and watching him blossom and learn new stuff every day. (Also, sadly seeing Alex “my baby”, become a “big boy” overnight)
* No more nappies for Alex!
* Having 6 months off work! And having had some time to reflect on whether or not I am still happy doing what I’m doing. I can see that 2012 will be a year of big changes for me.
* Starting a blog – it is amazing what a great outlet writing is. Even if no-one reads it, seeing my thoughts in black and white is incredibly therapeutic.

So, while the year has launched off with a rather bumpy start, I just have a feeling in my bones that it will be a good year.

Happy new year.

The other night at the emergency room

 “The decision to have a child is to accept that your heart will forever walk about outside your body.” Katherine Hadley

 A few Saturday’s ago, we were watching TV, when we heard Alex scream from his bedroom. We both went bolting upstairs to see what was wrong. He has been having some “age-appropriate” nightmares of late, so we assumed that this was the case. Alex slept through the night from about 8 weeks old, and has never really given us any trouble in the sleep department (other than when his sister was born, but that is a different story entirely!), so these nightmares have been a real shock to the system for us.

He was hot and sweaty, and absolutely frantic when we got upstairs. After about half an hour of trying to get him back to sleep, and with him point-blank refusing to stay in his room, using all the excuses in the book, from complaining that there was a bee in his room, to heartbreaking complaints that his tummy is sore, along with hyper-ventilating, we decided to let him fall asleep with us, and then take him back to his room later.

After about 20 minutes of him rolling around like he had insects under his skin, and some myprodol for the slight fever and some telement drops for the tummy ache later, we decide we better take him to casualty. At this point, he is telling us his tummy is sore, doubled over and crying big whimpering tears. And as much as we know most three year olds are hypochondriacs, these were real tears. I finally managed to convince him to let me touch his tummy, and it was hard and bloated. Gary and I got out of our pyjamas and into clothes suitable for rushing to the hospital, (I may have even gone out wearing my slipper crocs, which really are strictly for “at home” use!)  strapped Alex into the car seat, and headed towards the hospital. As I was closing the buckle on the car seat, I had a moment of real panic. How would I live without this boy if something were to happen to him. Every speed bump we went over on our drive, made Alex whimper in pain. I think my heart nearly stopped a few times.

At about 1030PM, we arrived at the hospital, and being a child, they rushed us though, and sent a nurse in to do a preliminary diagnosis. All the while Alex is crying and saying his tummy is sore. People in the rooms around us are giving us that terribly pained look of sympathy and fear that is reserved for the parents of sick children. The nurse asked us for a urine sample, and I carried Alex, still whimpering, into the bathroom, telling him that he had to make a wee in to a very special little cup. Alex has been fully potty trained since he turned 3, and stays dry at night. He started to wee into the cup, and it was like a flood gate on a dam opening up! The wee went everywhere, the cup was full in a nanosecond, and what seemed like 2 litres of wee went spilling onto the floor. Stupid me thought a 3 year old would be able to *stop* weeing once they started. Umm, nope! Note to self, hold the boy over the toilet next time. So half the paper towel supply later cleaning up the floor, I embarrassedly tell the nurse about our little “accident”. Then we headed back to the examination booth to wait for the doctor.

Alex was suddenly a new child, asking us what all the medical equipment does, peeping through the curtains at the other casualty visitors, doing bunny hops up and down the passage, and all the while we are realising that he is fine. Not dying, not in any pain. And then the penny dropped. Alex’s sore tummy was in fact a VERY full bladder. Neither of us thought to ask the boy if he needed a wee, and he didn’t make the connection that the pain he was feeling was his bladder.

We discussed slipping out quietly, so that we wouldn’t have to face the doctor and explain that our boy was right as rain. When the doctor came in a few moments later we explained the situation with rather red faces. She examined him for good measure, and everywhere she pressed, he of course said was sore, even his knee and little toe. The doctor laughed with us, and said it happens … it wasn’t the first time she had examined a toddler who was dying the one minute and 100% fine as soon as they were examined. Who would have thought that emergency room doctors have a sense of humour at 11 o clock on a Saturday night. So she sent us on our merry way, and our little guy was fast asleep by the time we pulled into the driveway. So all’s well that ends well, but my standard question to any complaint he makes now is “do you need to wee?”. *Breathe*