Saturday began with nothing on the schedule. I was cooking breakfast and hoping to get a little bit of work caught up that I was behind on. Nathan and Kate were playing in the kitchen. Nathan wanted so badly to pick Kate up and she, as usual, wanted nothing of the sort. So he tried to lift her and she kicked him hard in response. The result was a boom and Kate on the floor crying. I turned around and went to comfort her. This scenario is not unusual at our house. The boys are boys and Kate is a unsteady, spitfire toddler. She often ends up sprawled on the floor somewhere laughing or smiling or even sometimes whining and needing a little hug from mommy, but this time was different. When I picked her up, her body went stiff and she had a hard time catching her breath from the sobs. She clung to my shirt desperately and her eyes were terrified.
At first I thought that maybe she had hurt her head, because it had also hit the floor, but when she could finally tell me what was wrong, she was pointing to her leg… the leg that had already broken once in China and had healed the wrong way…the leg that is already shorter… the leg that haunts me every now and then with the taunting thought that I was not there when she broke it and couldn’t make sure someone fixed it. When she wouldn’t stop crying or let me move it at all, I knew it was time for xrays. I called David, who was on the golf course, and headed for Newton ER. Thank goodness I had sense enough to take the bacon out of the oven and turn off the stove. I KNOW for a fact that the Holy Spirit helped me to keep calm because Kate was screaming her head off, breakfast was still going on in the kitchen, the boys were doing there own thing, and I was still in my pj’s. Somehow we all ended up in the car ready to go in less than 5 minutes. Despite my misgivings, I strapped Kate into her car seat suffering through her screams of pain and headed to the ER.
Once there, we were taken back quickly even though the waiting room was pretty full. David arrived to find us already back in a room. They took xrays and quickly discovered that Kate had broken her femur again. Not in the same place, but right below the original break. I was asked several times “now how did this happen again?” I explained the situation to each nurse and the xray technicians and the doctor until I was tired of saying “China…previously broken leg…fibrous dysplasia…weak bones…special needs…etc. etc.” I know by the end I sounded rehearsed, but there wasn’t much I could do about that.
Newton was kind enough not to try to repair Kate’s leg, but transferred her to Egleston, so that pediatric specialists could determine the best course of action. I was relieved and grateful, as I did not really feel comfortable with the local ER doctor in this case. They let us drive Kate ourselves up to the hospital, so we stopped home and picked up clothes for everyone. They were admitting us directly to the surgical floor so we did not think we would be going home that night.
We finally arrived at Egleston and were again impressed (we have been there before with Nathan) at the caliber of this Children’s hospital. Kate received such great care from the nurses who had to poke and prod her at every turn. They loved on her and even tried their best not to mess with her leg until they had to. Since we were told we would not have orders for surgery until the morning, we called my sister to come pick up our boys. Love my awesome sisters who love my children so much. The boys were actually stoked that they got to spend the night with their Aunts, so no trauma there. David and I took turns keeping Kate company in the bed. She was not in a lot of pain and barely had to take any medicine (one TOUGH cookie), but she was very scared and by night time was begging to go “bye bye”. I explained that the doctor was going to fix her boo boo, and though she was not very happy with the prospect of spending the night, she seemed to understand the necessity of all we were doing. My heart rejoiced as I realized that she is learning to trust us, even in times of great pain and perceived danger. As long as Mommy or Daddy was there to protect her, she would be okay. We did, however, have to endure a visit from child protective services because of the femur fracture. Evidently this is policy at this hospital, which greatly saddened David and I as we thought of all the cases of abuse they must see. I won’t lie… my heart about stopped when they told us that we would be visited and asked questions. I have just heard so many stories about misunderstandings and jumping to conclusions and the like. You can imagine how hard I prayed that Jesus would protect our family. We had nothing to worry about as they all quickly assessed the situation and made notes in our file that we were clear from any suspicion. I did, however, ask my pediatrician this morning to give us an official letter explaining Kate’s diagnosis and prognosis for any future situations. They woulda had to remove me from that room dead if they had accused us of anything :).
The night was pretty much devoid of sleep… I mean, at least for Mommy. When Kate wasn’t awake and crying, the nurses were in waking her up to take vitals or blood or mess with the equipment. I am a light sleeper so hospital visits equal little to no sleep for this worried Momma. At one point Kate’s sugar was very high and the anesthesiologist suspected diabetes, but the next bloodwork came back normal, so we are pretty sure she does not have diabetes. Finally it was morning and they came to take her down to surgery. They gave her some loopy meds and we took some hilarious video in the OR preop room as she was pretty much out of it. When the ortho was ready for her, she was not loopy enough to realize that she was being taken from Mommy and cried for me until we were out of earshot. The only thing that kept me walking forward to the family waiting room was knowing that if I rescued her now, I would only be prolonging the miserable. Separation was a must.
The “surgery”, which was actually just the cast being put on, only took about 45 minutes from start to finish. The orthopedic who treated her was a keeper and the blessing in disguise in all of this is that we were still looking for a good long term ortho. We found him. He came in when he was done and talked with us for about 30 minutes, answering all of our questions and offering his advice on Kate’s condition. We will follow up with him in about a week to make sure Kate’s leg has not shifted in her cast. The ortho’s technician has also put Kate’s “sock puppy” stuffed animal in a cast just like hers which we thought was so cool. I cannot say enough about Children’s.
After surgery, Kate was DONE. As she was being rolled back in, still drowsy, she was frantically waving her arms and saying “bye bye”. She was ready to GO! She wanted me to hold her, but when I did, she slapped me hard across the face and continued to thrash around. After I got bit and gouged with fingernails, it was Daddy’s turn. Finally they brought some Loritab and that combined with a wheelchair ride around the 4th floor seemed to do the trick as our Kate with the twinkle in her eye returned.
She did really well after surgery, despite the large cast that goes from her chest to her ankle on the left side. They cleared us to leave within 2 or 3 hours. We strapped her into the car with a safety harness made particularly for the spica cast because you are unable to sit in it. We grabbed the boys and some Krispy Kreme (which somehow made up for the lost sleep…love those things) and headed home.
Since then, things have once again been in an uproar around here. David and I are both fighting head colds. The boys are bored without their friends who are at school. Kate is tired of “laying” around. We found that the umbrella stroller works great for keeping her propped up, but as any normal 2 year old, day after day of being tied down is torture. Thank goodness for Nathan, who often gives her rides around the house when she is particularly cranky. This works like a charm. Despite being warned about getting the cast wet, we woke up to a pee pee soaked Kate this morning. What do you do?? She’s 2. Yes, I will limit drinks at night from now on and change her in the middle of the night, but the damage has been done and the cast is no longer in pristine condition…after 1 day!! Whew! Only 41 to go. I really can’t even think about it or I will cry, so I will just continue to take one day at a time.
So no, not ideal conditions, but we never expected the ideal. We knew the choice of Kate would be riddled with difficulties…mountains to climb, oceans to cross, casts to blow dry. We have heard many “bless your hearts” and “we are so sorry you have to go through this”. Funny thing is, we are not sorry at all. We are so completely blessed to have been chosen to parent Kate, and we are treasuring even the hard things. In those hardest of moments in the hospital, all my heart could sing was how happy I was to be right there by my baby’s side this time…to not ever again have to wonder how something happened or what she had been through…to be able to sing to her and kiss her and dry her tears and reassure her that all would be okay. I will scream it to the hilltops WORTH IT ALL! Forget competing in the Olympics or climbing Mt. Everest or skydiving or running a marathon or traveling the world… you want a rush? Go get the children that God has waiting for you and then watch Him working LIVE. Yes, girls are drama and we have lots of it here, but don’t you think life is really pretty boring without the drama?