Friday, June 22, 2007

Unable to Help -- jcarolek

When my daughter was about 20 months old we were in the process of trying to buy a new house. One afternoon, we had a meeting with the realtor and I left work early to meet my husband at home so that we could drive together to meet her. Hubby was running late, but had loaded the kids into the car to take them to the babysitter’s house. After loading them in and buckling then in place, he realized he had locked his keys in the house.

He went into the back to retrieve the emergency key to the house and dashed in to get his car keys. Meanwhile, in the car, the 3 ½ year old boy and 1 ½ year old girl were getting bored. The back passenger windows were “child safe” – they went down only halfway.

Well, I don’t know about your kids, but, particularly in my daughter’s case, mine were inclined to “test” these constraints. So it was that, as I drove up to meet my husband, to drive to our engagement, I witnessed my 20 month old crawling out of the window of the car.

I was too late to affect any change in the course of events. I could only watch in horror as I saw her fall to the driveway, suddenly “informed” that little girls do not “float.”

The good news was that we were quite poor and had a standard “pine straw” driveway…no gravel, blacktop or concrete to make matters worse, but still, I jumped out on my now parked car and ran to my daughter. I could tell by the pine straw now clinging to her shirt, that she had landed on her shoulder…not her head. (Thank God for small favors.)

I scooped her up and brushed her off, kissed away her tears and asked her if she was hurt. She replied that she was OK, but it scared her. I wasted no time getting both kids re-buckled in, and begging an explanation of my husband, who had, at about that time, sauntered out of the house, blissfully unaware of his daughter’s fall.

We took her to the doctor later that afternoon, when it became apparent she was favoring that arm. Our regular doctor was not on that day, and the doctor at the HMO who saw Jen, sent her for X-rays, read them and assured us there was nothing to be concerned about. We should take her home and give her Tylenol if the pain bothered her. There were no broken bones. That was Friday.

By Sunday, Jen looked as if she had no shoulder on that side. She was still in pain and was not using her arm at all. Monday morning, we were back at the HMO and her regular pediatrician. He took a look at Jen and a look at the X-rays taken three days earlier and decided to send her back for more X-rays. This time they took various pictures in various positions (her first modeling job!)

Sure enough, his suspicions were verified. Jen’s collar bone was not only broken, but dislocated. The first X-ray had not been able to pick up the break because the dislocation placed the one part of the bone directly behind the other, giving the appearance of single, unbroken bone.

For the next few weeks, Jen wore the little harness that holds the shoulders in place, allowing the best healing of the broken collar bone. She still has the lump where the two parts of the bone overlap, but nobody would notice, if they were not looking for it.

What I learned in this whole sequence of events follows:

Safety features are only as good as their safe implementation

Children will find a way to push the envelope

Outward appearance of inner health is often inaccurate

Experts can miss things too – I can and should continue to challenge when I see an “obvious” problem

Even when I can see the world falling apart before my very eyes, there ARE times when I CANNOT affect a change to the events.

On the plus side, my daughter has not decided the take up sky-diving yet (though bungee-jumping was on her list of first things to do when she turned 18! LOL

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