Well, that’s a more dramatic title than usual. Isn’t it? Yep we had a broken arm in the family over the summer. I suppose I’ve done well to get to 44 and be a Mum for 15 years without a broken bone but Tara has set a precedent for us.
As far as broken bones go, its was not a bad break. A small fracture near to her elbow but painful nonetheless. All as a result of falling about 1.5 feet onto rubber matting at the garden centre. She was really quite unlucky really but that’s the way it goes.
She didn’t have a cast which we will be forever thankful for. Just 8 or so hours earlier, we had booked a last minute holiday for the 4 of us (Millie isn’t coming). This meant Tara could still cool off in the many pools although she wasn’t too chuffed to miss out on the water slides.
So what have we learnt about how to cope with a broken arm?
People are really kind
You can’t go past many people with a child in a sling without people saying ‘Aah’. One man in a taxi rank wished her well which put a smile on her otherwise sad little face.
I have to admit it was tempting to just feed her sandwiches and finger food that she can easily pick up with her left hand (Yes, of course, she is righthanded!) This wouldn’t be that practical or tasty for the next 6 weeks though. The first place Tara wanted to eat at was Wagamama – Erm, rice/noodles with your left hand? Well, we gave it a go and discovered children’s chopsticks are a magic solution! The staff were so impressed that they gave us a huge handful as we were leaving to see us through the next 6 weeks. See? Back to people being so kind.
We’ve also found that sports cups are a godsend – you soon learn after mopping up your second spilt juice in 10 minutes that beakers may not be that easy. If eating out, straws are great too and so much easier to control.
Now this was a biggie and we learnt a lot each day. Button up shirts and blouses are the most practical for an arm that is in a sling and can’t be bent. We only own one though and to be honest, there’s not many of them in the shops. Strappy tops with wide necklines are the next easiest.
If you can manage without PJ’s then do it but we also used her big sister’s vest top which went on fairly easily. We also learnt to time any dressing activity to coincide with 20 minutes after pain relief.
We were advised to take off her sling at night. The first night was awful as Tara kept waking up, whimpering but at least she kept still. The second night was a whole new level of hideousness though – Tara found herself waking up with her arm behind her head. Its a brave parent that gets your 6yo to move that arm down by their side. We propped the arm up with a spare pillow but it kept on wandering. Be prepared for sleep deprivation!
Starting to feel better
The first couple of days are rough. If I could re-live those first 2 days (hope I never do) I would cancel any plans and really take it easy. We were very lucky that we didn’t have too much planned but just getting up and down stairs took forever due to her pain, never mind leaving the house.
It was really the Hokey Cokes of Paracetamol & Ibruprofen that got us through those early days. Don’t be tempted to try to last too long in between doses, especially if your child starts moving around more. It will hurt.
Will I know when my child has broken a bone?
‘They’ say you will just know when you have broken a bone or your child has. Well, it wasn’t quite so obvious for us. Tara fell from a small piece of play equipment at a local garden centre. It was only about 1.5 feet high and she fell onto soft rubber matting. It was plainly the angle that she fell on her arm that resulted in a small bone being fractured. There was a lady right next to her who said there was a horrible cracking sound, so I suspect the lady knew before any of us.
Its fair to say Tara was miserable when she had first hurt herself but she wasn’t hysterical. She could move the arm – We even took her hoodie off so we could have a better look. She calmed down but couldn’t really take her mind off her arm – even when her Nanna used her amazing distraction techniques. After about 15 minutes of her still wincing, we popped her into the car and made our way home. At this point, we were still debating if we needed a trip to A&E. She really didn’t want to go as we had a family meal booked for my birthday, which happened to be the same day.
We managed to persuade Tara that she needed to be looked at though. At this point, we were still convinced we would be told it was bruised. Even the medical staff didn’t think it would be broken (apart from one nurse who said the way she was holding herself was making her think it was). The doctor on shift was fairly surprised but broken it was.
What activities can my child do with a broken arm?
We were amazed how much Tara achieved. Within the first week, she was in the pool (wearing the spare sling that the hospital gave us in the water). At first, she just paddled around but within a couple of days she was swimming one armed. A day later she was heaving herself up onto inflatables.
End of Week 2, the hospital advised to take the sling off. They like to promote movement so the arm doesn’t get stiff and lose strength. This was a scary moment for little T but within 48 hours, she was definitely better off for having no sling.
By the end of week 3, Tara was writing with the right arm. We didn’t particularly encourage this but if she wanted to do it and felt up to it, who could stop her?
By week 4, Tara had no sign of injury. She is allowed back to PE at school including dance. Swimming properly is actively encouraged as it helps strengthen then arm without pressure on it.
What to avoid long term?
The nurses and doctors at fracture clinic told us that if they could, they would ban trampolines and riding horses as the majority of their patients are from this type of activity. I will admit it has made me more cautious about trampolines (We aren’t horsey types so that hasn’t been an issue). Tara gets invited to a lot of trampolining parties – So far I’ve been able to decline as she has had other commitments but I have provisionally said yes for one in December. I know its 4 months after her injury but it does make you think.