My head is fucked.
It was fucked earlier in the week by something unexpected that has hit me harder than I thought it would.
If you can’t take negative themes, don’t read any more.
So, I wake up on Friday morning, get jumped on by various small children (it’s only two but they have like 15 elbows and 47 knees between them) and go to have a shower.
I get about ten minutes into my shower (my showers are long.) and I can hear O having a meltdown downstairs. Every fricken morning. I reluctantly finish my shower and head downstairs. My day has begun.
OH puts O in his highchair for some breakfast and the Toddler belts about the house singing and then demanding the potty. OH sorts her and I try to feed O his jam flavoured puree. He’s not having any of it. I pull him out of the chair and latch him on. I let him feed until he’s no longer hysterical and then try to get him to eat some goop. He takes a few mouthfuls while she decides to do a stinking poop on the potty and all hell breaks loose while we try to clean them both up to a presentable state ready to go to pre-school.
It takes longer than expected.
We leave the house at 8.59am after she has removed her wellies and her socks twice. I’m not in the best of moods but determined to get to a point where I can feel a bit better.
I drop her off and head back home, forgetting to avoid the roadworks that have sprung up all over where we live. Still, I get home and get O out of the car. He’s asleep so I leave him in the car seat while I have a nice cup of tea and five minutes to gather my thoughts.
O wakes up and has a feed then I put him in the boat and I sing him the dancing time song (designed to encourage L to get her ballet stuff on) and “The Oscars on the bus” and he is playing with her keyboard thing and we’re laughing and it’s all supercute.
Then I notice he’s not really using his left arm. He’s reaching for everything with his right hand. He’s going across his body with his right hand to get toys. I check the left arm. It looks like he’s leaning on it, but he’s actually not. it feels a little limp and weak. Hmm. I decide to give him a nap and do some online shopping so we settle at the computer for an hour or so and he sleeps and eats while I spend way more than I should on things we probably don’t need.
He wakes up and gets agitated. He’s not a great fan of lying down once he’s awake and would rather be sat up. If he is laid down, he has to have certain toys within arms reach, one of these being his “octopus” (which actually only has 6 arms and was purchased at the Lovely Ladies Christmas Fayre.) I decide to test his arm and put the octopus on his left side. He looks at it. His arm twitches but stays by his side until he begins to reach across his body with his right arm.
Definitely something wrong.
I figure the Drs surgery will just send us to the hospital for x-rays so decide to bypass the middleman and go straight to Accident and Emergency. I arrange for L to be collected from pre-school, let OH know what’s going on, get O into the car seat carefully avoiding his left arm which is now cold, has no grip and is hanging limply by his side and head off.
I get to A & E and book in. I answer the name, address and “what has he done?” questions for the first of a million times and we take a seat to be triaged. It’s actually surprisingly speedy.
The triage nurse doesn’t even take him out of the pushchair. I explain his symptoms and say that I don’t know what he’s done but he appears to have lost the use of the arm. She nods.
“Most probably pulled elbow. They can sometimes get it when they are picked up by their arms. It hurts their elbows and they just stop using the arm. It’s a simple procedure to sort it. Unfortunately I can’t do it but the Drs can.” She looks at me.
“They used to call it nurse maids elbow or something?” I say. I’ve read about it. It doesn’t sound very pleasant but it’s common in young children.
“Yes, they call it pulled elbow now. We see it a lot.” She smiles reassuringly and invites me to go back out to wait.
O meanwhile is starting to get fed up of being in the pushchair. A quick scan of the waiting room detects a few sore feet, a wonkey shoulder and some broken fingers but no grey babies and no vomit so I get him out.
The woman next to me has her two children with her. Her eldest, a little girl, is intrigued by O. Shes about the same age as Lily and very sweet. The little boy in the pushchair has been bought in for a rash which is a suspected allergy to his jabs.
We chatter for a bit, comparing our experiences, then she gets called through.
O does a little shimmy on my lap and I smell it. Lovely poo. Explosive. Up his back. Great.
I take the pushchair into the disabled loo (there are two toilets in here but no cubicles. It’s very odd.) and strip O down, wipe up the poo, put some clean clothes on him, normal changing stuff. I’m careful to wipe all the surfaces down and clean our hands. I’m becoming germophobic….or whatever it is. We go back out.
An hour later O has finished charming everyone in the room. We have been asked if the birth mark in the shape of a V on his forehead is a bump and I have to explain it’s a birth mark (we get this a lot. He was very low in my pelvis for a long time and he has a large imprint on his forehead. It will fade, but until then, we have to explain it away.) and he is now milk drunk and snoring on my lap.
I wonder if we were called in while I was cleaning up the poo, so I ask at reception. She tells me no but there is only one person before me, so it shouldn’t be too long.
I chat to all the people in the waiting room. I’m not shy. Having a baby is a great icebreaker.
Then O gets called in. We go straight to the treatment room and I’m picturing having to hold him while they wiggle his arm around and the thought puts my teeth on edge a little. But I have to learn this stuff. I have to be ok with it. So I gulp and am brave and go to wait.
A Dr comes over. At least I assume he’s a Dr, although his nervous stature and dress suggest he’s a student. That’s ok. We’re not a serious case, we just need to get his arm going again.
“So, what’s wrong with Oscar?” He asks.
“he’s not using his left arm.” I say. “It’s limp, he has no grip, and he normally has a vicelike grip.”
The student picks up O’s arm and bends his elbow, moves his shoulder a bit and can’t find anything obviously wrong with it. I’m starting to suspect a problem with his shoulder because his elbow is moving freely but he seems to be holding his arm slightly away from his body at about a 45 degree angle. Still, I’m not a Dr, I’m a massage student and we are not clinical. I’ve already had a bit of a feel and can’t find anything muscular but the shoulder joint just feels a bit funny. It’s probably just where I’m paranoid about it though. The shoulders of small children are very supple though and funny feeling joints are quite normal (I learnt this from picking L up at funny angles and her shoulders would suddenly look very awkward. They would always go back to normal and never caused her any issues though.) O didn’t yelp at all the whole time he was being moved about (very gently). The student just looked at me a bit blankly.
“Does he normally use it?”
“Yes.” I reply. I know it’s normal for them to have a preference sometimes. I know the like to stretch and wriggle and try new things with this great body they have been given. But he’s just NOT USING IT AT ALL.
I begin to feel like the student doesn’t really believe me about him not using it, so he wonders off and gets another Dr. This time, a quiffed posh talking guy comes over.
He runs through the name/address/what’s he done crap again and then he gets to the Dr bit.
“I know that Dr!” He says. “She’s my friends mother.”
Weird. That Dr is also the mother of my ex boyfriends friend.
“Really? How weird.” He smiles gently. He’s a good-looking boy. I mean he’s like 25 or something. I feel really old.
“Her youngest son is like…”
“Yeah, he’s 16 now.” Dr Quiff answers (he calls himself Louie. Not Dr anything. Louie.)
“wow” Yep, I’m old. The youngest son in question was like 10 the last time I saw him. Maybe younger. And the siblings that Louie knows are at least 5 years younger than me. I’m feeling wrinkly.
He checks O’s limp arm and concludes it’s being very weak. He also checks for reflexes and says he can’t find anything, which is worrying and that we have to have a xray to find out whether it is skeletal or neurological. He orders an elbow x-ray and the girl in solitary confinement orders a sick bucket and off we go to the sound of dry heaving.
We get to radiology and the radiologist takes the little form.
“You’re not pregnant are you?” he asks before I’m even in the room.
“I hope not.” Would be a bloody miracle as you have to have sex first!
“Good. You can hold him then.”
I park the pram, pull out semi-naked O and get a lovely lead waistcoat draped over my shoulders. It possibly weighs slightly more than I do. We manoeuvre O into position and the radiologist takes some elbow shots. I am singing the “We’re getting pictures of your insides” song.
The radiologist goes into the back room to check the results and then comes back out.
“All done.” He smiles and helps me to take off the ten tonne coat and head back to the treatment room.
Once we get back, there’s more waiting, more of me feeling poorly and more sick. Lots of horribly sick kids. I don’t like sick.
They’ve also had to rush in a resus baby as there’s no room in resus so all the Drs buzz around her, and she’s screaming as they poke her and prod her as they try to stabilise her. It’s heartbreaking.
Another Dr comes over. He’s dressed in darker green scrubs so I’m guessing he’s senior to Louie and he takes us into a cubicle.
“The elbow x-ray didn’t show anything.” He says, as O starts to move his left arm again slightly.
“I suspect it’s his shoulder.” I say, not knowing that later on, this is going to be one of the things I am going to kick myself for.
The Dr pokes and prods and presses his collarbone. O yelps and cries and tries to wriggle free. Another x-ray is ordered.
Same radiographer. Same heavy lead jacket.
This time, instead of holding O sat up, he’s laid down and I have to try to get him to look away from the shoulder while pinning his arm in place. He starts pelvic thrusting and the first shot is a crapper. They take another one.
“Any good?” I ask.
“It’s not great because he moved, but it shows what we need to see.” The radio x-ray guy says. Ok, so it is his shoulder. We’re getting somewhere. I’m still suspecting a dislocation and thinking about how they’re going to get me to hold him while they ram it back in. Teeth on edge.
Back again to the treatment room and OH gets in. I dying of thirst and can’t even think about eating my stomach is in knots. We’re going to be out soon though. They just need to relocate it, set it and then we’ll have to figure out how to get him in the car. Poor boy.
I decide I cannot take the dry-mouth any longer and hand O over to OH. I go out to reception to try to get a drink. £1.50 for a bottle of water. I have 70p. Fuck. Nevermind. I could drink the squash in the treatment room but even the thought of it makes me queasy. You never know what kids have done to it.
Back to the treatment room again and I’m talking to OH when Dr Dark green scrubs comes up and says to OH “You must be dad.”
“Oh, sorry.” I apologise to him. “I didn’t mean to talk over you.”
“Come and take a seat.” He says, pulling us into a cubicle and drawing the curtain round as if the thin piece of grubby cloth offers complete privacy.
“We have found the problem.” He says seriously. There is something in his eyes I don’t like. He’s a bit snappier. Something has changed.
We nod nervously.
“It is a broken collarbone.” He says.
I am shocked. Actual WTF?
“Now, an injury of this type in a baby his age is very rare. It can only be caused by direct force or a drop.”
“Would his sister being over affectionate have caused it?” I ask. I have to point out I would never blame her. I’m not blaming her. My brain is working a mile a minute going over the past 24 hours and the only available time slot for this to have happened is when he was playing in his boat and she was running around when I was showering and OH was getting breakfast. She could have launched herself at him in a cuddle and caught him accidentally.
“No, the force would have had to be much greater than that.”
“Because it is so rare, I have spoken to the pediatric consultant and he would like to run some further tests to check for things like brittle bone, so we will have to admit you.” He pauses to let this sink in. “Now, some of the questions they are going to ask may seem like they are accusing you but you have to understand that because of the type of injury he has they have to ask these. They are not accusing you, they are just trying to establish how this happened.” He pauses again and I’m not sure I can believe what I’m hearing. His tone is cold. His eyes are harsh. He’s not accusing us…yeah right. I begin to die a little.
“You should prepare yourself for up to a week staying here as they need to establish a cause.”
A week. I will have to stay in hospital with O for a week. A week without L? That hurts. I can’t not see her for a week. This is fucked up. I nod dumbly. He leaves us to digest what he’s said and opens the curtains.
I sob into my hands.
“She was right, I’m a terrible mother.” I cry. I can’t breathe. In that second I just want to die. Or get superstabby.
OH is more calm and rational. He calms me down and we go over the last few days thinking of everything we can suggest that may have caused the injury. Everything that takes their eyes away from us as child abusers. No one has used that term, but I can feel that’s how they are starting to see us. Child comes in with mother. Mother suspects injury. Break is found in a very hard to reach place… yeah. This looks awful. No wonder there was a cold air when he took us to one side. No wonder.
We update the people we can with the news we are going to be in overnight and I comfort myself with the thought that the main reason for the tests is to find an underlying problem, and that it’s better if they find it now. OK, so he mentioned that it might feel accusatory but it’s not. He may have other fractures we don’t know about. We may have to adapt our lifestyle. Yeah, that’s definitely what the Dr was saying. This is for our own benefit.
And finally, the skinny nurse with short blonde hair says “would you like to come with me?”