Friday, February 16, 2007

Anyone Know a Good Orthopedic Surgeon?

I wish to quote an anonymous commenter from Wednesday's post You Think You Got Snow?

Please educate children about the dangers of playing in and around snow piles near a street. They can be hit or buried by a passing plow, or another vehicle that may not see them in time.

"Silly commenter!" I chuckled. All the years I've lived in Alaska I've never known a child to get hurt playing in the snow piles. "Ha, ha, ha!" I laughed, "That's sweet that someone is so concerned but we Alaskans are too tough to succumb to stupid things like the laws of physics. We're invincible."

Having said that, join me Wednesday, February 14th, 4:45 pm Alaska time. While many of you were thinking thoughts of romance, love and chocolates I was doing mom stuff (okay blogging) and Spencer had taken his snowboard down to the Himalayan snow mounds at the end of the cul-de-sac to test the gravity in that sector. He'd hiked to the top of the hill, admired the view, strapped on his board, and pushed off to find himself in an artistic free fall intermittently broken by contact with various protruding chunks of ice before coming to rest on the snow-packed pavement at the base.

From my vantage inside I heard this growing sound. Rather like a moaning cry that grew into a full-blown wail. In came Spencer, tears streaming down his face, clutching his arm. His wrist was large and lumpy in a very non-healthy way. Make that red and large and lumpy. I tried touching it and he cried harder. I tried getting him to move it and he shivered in pain.

Now I'm no doctor but I began to think that perhaps something was wrong with his wrist. We trekked on over to First Care to seek a diagnosis and after a impressive series of x-rays it was determined that yes, Spencer had broken his arm. The radius was broken near the carpals in a compression fracture that had damaged his growth plate. Whatever a growth plate is.

By the time they had splinted his arm, wrapped it in ace bandages and put it in a sling the pain had died down enough so that he was rather pleased with his new accessory. We left the clinic with him doing very impressive Borg-like moves with his new cyborg-ish appendage which it turns out is useful for threatening younger brothers, imitating Jedi moves and using as a portable Ion Canon.

I took him to the orthopedic surgeon Thursday morning and after more x-rays and consultations he's now sporting a Gumby-green cast from his hand to six inches past his elbow. They want more x-rays in a week, more in two weeks followed by a smaller cast (he's already planning on ninja black for this one). Then more x-rays in six weeks after getting the cast off and various follow up visits until ten weeks have passed and we're panhandling outside the clinic to pay the bills. Yes, green is an appropriate color for the cast, it will end up costing more than anything else he owns.

So go ahead and shake those heads and "tsk, tsk, tsk" me. I'm hearing a cyber-chorus of "I told you so's" and I hang my head with the irony of it all. My dear anonymous commenter should feel some sad satisfaction.

Tell me that it was only a matter of time and that I should be grateful he didn't break his head playing in that enormous pile of ice and snow and I'd agree with you though I must state the sad truth that this is life with boys (though for the record no one ever lets their children play in the snow while the plows are actually running. I mean we Alaskans are tough but we're not entirely stupid). We've had more than one emergency room trip with Spencer and there will probably be more to come--it's an inevitability. As I've said before, boys are God's reminder never to let your insurance lapse.

Oh, and speaking of insurance, the pizza resistance? (as we say around here in our fake French accents) Andrew's starting a new job this month so we're switching insurance carriers. Since this little incident will be the gift that keeps on giving over the next two months we get to pay our uber-high deductible twice. Yes, twice. Once now and once with the new insurance policy. Spencer couldn't have timed it better. Good grief.

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Miscellaneous-Mum said...

As a parent, I've had a few of those "Dear God" moments, when your guts seize at accidents and such. Be thankful Spencer is OK. I certainly am.

Di said...

Kids will be kids, regardless of the vigilance of the parent. Trust me, we have no snowboarding into the streets here in Boca. I live in a subdivision that has lots of kids and a 20 MPH speed limit within our walls. I happen to live five houses from the entrance and one house away from the first stop sign. Yet, people still manage to go 40, blow by the stop sign and generally break several laws and endanger their neighbors. When I posted some information about the fatality rate of a child being hit by a car going 20 vs. a car going 40, an elderly woman posted that we parents needed to do a better job of making sure our kids stayed out of the street.


That's it....I'm moving to Alaska! I'll take a splinted arm from snowboarding over losing a kid to a near-sighted senior citizen talking on her cell-phone while speeding by my house!

Anonymous said...

I hate to say "I told you so" so I won't...because really, what the hell do I know. I would have never thought about a kid getting a broken wrist or anything else from playing in the snow...Snow is soft, no? But I'm ditsy like that I guess...

I hope he feels better soon.

You are one strong mamma.

Karen Shanley said...

Ooooooh, ouch! On the double insurance deductible. Kisses for the broken arm. Okay, scratch that--your son's too old for kisses. Getting my kids mixed up here.

I've got no tsk tsks for you. I have a stepson like your son who's not happy unless he's pushing the envelope a bit. It was hard for me to not always be shouting "Watch out!" or "Get off of that before you break your neck!" etc. But I could see from early on that he had an awareness of his body and of his capabilites that was to be envied. Yes, he's gotten a few knocks along the way (interestly, no broken bones) but they've all served to teach him in ways that neither his father nor I could about his limits. (This is the stepson who's trekking around Alaska now as a wildlife biologist.)

I'm not saying to let kids jump off roofs or engage in dangerous activities. Just that maybe your son learned a valuable lesson about snow piles and chunks of ice that no amount of "talking to" could have taught him. I know, I expensive lesson.

A pile of snow to a northerner is like a box of chocolates to a chocoholic. I can't stand up on a snowboard, but I know that I'd have at least tried a sled down that thing! LOL!

All this to say that I think you're a great mom, and Spencer was being a normal kid. And I'm so very glad Spencer is okay. I'm sure the black ninja cast will be cool too!

Damselfly said...

Yikes! Hope he feels better. These always happen between insurance companies. Does Alaska have any major-league sports teams? Their ortho doctors are usually good.

Cagey said...

Poor kid. Poor YOU.

re: kids getting hurt - I would rather my kid be the spunky, daredevil who might have to wear a few casts in his childhood than have him be scared and sitting on my couch all the time. There is life to be lived and it's usually NOT in your house.

It's still hard to let go and my minor drama on Monday made that starkly clear to me. Sigh.

Hang in there!

Ma said...

Ouch! I hope he heels fast. Poor guy!

Thanks for stopping by. I live on Oahu. Maui is nice. When we lived on Molokai, we used to take the kids and go there all the time. It would be just for the day to go shopping. It used to cost only $30.00 round trip and the kids only $20. Not anymore though.

chelle said...

awww Poor Spencer!! Glad he is ok and will heal!

Ouch on the timing!

Jane said...

My principal is a bit of a safety freak. This year we actually got a playground at school. It has awesome foam matting under it, but still for the first time in her 5 years at our school "2 kids have broken their arms." Well, the reason nobody did before was that there was NOTHING for them to do! I bet if you asked both of those kids if they would trade their broken arm for the plaground, they would take the good with the bad. I am sure that your son also has no regrets! A broken arm is a badge of something (honor, courage, ?) in childhood. I am even willing to bet his sibs are a bit jealous (except for the pain part.)

Julie P said...

Poor kid! With bad timing!

Kelly said...

Did you see this story about the dangers of playing in the snow? Scary! Who'd have thought snow could be so dangerous?

Here's hoping he heals up quickly!

Viscountess said...

Think of it this way: when he's in college and the boys are telling their scar and emergency room stories, he'll be able to tell the story of the day he snowboarded onto the street, and by then, the pile will be several stories high, and he will have only narrowly missed causing a thirteen car pile-up because he landed in traffic.

He's alive, and it will heal. Every good northern boy has at least one story like this.

K T Cat said...

My son broke his radius right near the elbow when he was 7. When the bone repaired itself, it fused the growth plate onto the rest of the bone, stopping growth from that end of the radius. If left untreated, his arm would have gradually bent as the ulna continued to grow, but the radius grew only from one end.

He had surgery to repair this at Children's Hospital in San Diego (where we live). The doctor was Dr. Wallace. I researched this thoroughly before the surgery and discovered that Children's in San Diego teaches pediatric orthopedic surgery to others. It's just about the top of the line for this.

Here is all the contact information if you'd like your doctor (or you) to contact them.


Please email me if you'd like more information. If I had known that this complication might arise, I would have taken a different approach with our pediatrician as my son healed. Knowledge is power.

Please feel free to use me and my experiences in any way you see fit. That goes for anyone else reading this, too.

My son is now 15 (today is his birthday) and he is completely healthy. The bend in his arm is not noticeable and he is on the high school football and wrestling teams.

Mert said...

Poor guy! I am glad that he doing OK despite all of that, and that he didn't injure himself any worse. Poor you too! Don't beat yourself up. ((((Hugs))))

Inkling said...

I'm glad your little guy is okay. Sorry about the insurance adventure. Those are never fun...or cheap. Some of my friends would probably croak to know I said this, but......letting boys learn to be tough, to endure bumps, bruises, and even casts seems to be a better way to go than suiting them up and wrapping them in bubble wrap to protect them from every conceivable injury. So, if I had little ones, I think I'd let them keep on playing on the temporary mountain in the cul-de-sac, even though their brother had a painful adventure there. I'm almost afraid to post this for fear of the iceballs that may now come my way. =)

Christie said...

oh no!!! i am glad he's ok! what an ordeal! my husband had just switched jobs and insurance the week i was going for my first ob appointment when i was pregnant. we had some interesting times with that at the beginning. fun stuff!

Robin said...

Poor kid, and poor mom's wallet with the double deductible. I hope it heals quickly and with no complications.

I broke my wrist skiing in college - I decided it would be really fun to see how far I could ski on only one ski - so I can sympathize with your son's need to occasionally push the envelope. It's just something about a big snowy hill...

Dave Thurston said...

I enjoy your writing. My son and I've had a similar experience. Also have the similar green cast. See:

Lei said...

oh my - glad he's alright! and what cute thing to find the silver lining in all this! hope his cast brings him weeks of fun and that they go speedily by!

Lisa said...

Agggg. I hope your son feels better soon. And don't feel bad about the snow thing.... Hey, when you raise boys... stuff like that is bound to happen no matter how much bubble wrap you try to wrap them in.

Hope your wallet recovers as quick as Spencer's arm will!

kailani said...

I hope Spencer is alright! See, I knew I wasn't the only one who would get hurt on that thing!

Carrie K. said...

Hope he's better soon!

Loralee Choate said...

Awe, poor little one. Hope it gets better, soon!

Cece said...

Oh man! don't you hate it when that happens? Hope he's feeling better soon.

Sandra said...

Good grief indeed. And Holy snow. I'll stop complaining about ours now.

Glad that Spencier is okay.

Biker Betty said...

So glad it was nothing worse. Bad luck on the timing with the change of your insurance companies, yikes.

I see someone else went into it a little. As I understand them, growth plates are where kids' bones are still growing. My son has a very large benign bone tumer and had to have a body scan when we initially found it. I was scared to death when I saw the results of the body scan and all those white spots at ankles, wrists and some other spots. They told me not to worry about those, as they were hot spots where my son was still growing and they will go dormant once he's fully grown. I had a huge sigh of relief.

I hope the break at your son's growth break is serious and that it heals well.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend.

J said...

Oh boy, that sucks. Sorry Michelle.

Mrs. Chicky said...

Poor kid, that stinks. I've known all along that snow is bad!

Anonymous said...

Good God! No, I don't feel any satisfaction! And I don't think you're a bad mother. -I'm just glad he didn't get hit by a MOA plow.
P.S. I hope you bough him some ice cream.

Stephanie said...

It happens. I guess I never did post about it, but my nephew broke his leg here a few weeks ago doing something that some might consider dangerous, but our kids do it all the time. It was kind of a freak thing that he broke his leg. I'd rather let them be kids (with in reason of course) and deal with broken bones than to try to shelter them from every possible thing that might hurt them.

Pass The Torch said...

Oh no!! We have a wicked hill behind our house that I worry about too.

I sure hope he heals quickly. That really stinks.

Bec Laklem said...

Hi Michelle,

I'm a mum of 7, 2 boys/5 girls ranging in ages from 19-3.

My youngest son, a little mite of 3, is a whiz on his 2-wheeler bike (without the training wheels). My heart skipped a beat the other day, when I looked out our window to see him speeding down our fairly steep gravel drive (within our Bible School compound) and as a brake-buffer crashed his bike into a hedge at the end.

He came on into the house totally unscathed. Bear in mind, he can't use the handbrakes on that thing, he uses his feet! So, when it's a bit too fast, I guess he found another way to brake :-)

(by the way, it was the first time he went down that particular route).

Another stunt to keep an eye out for. Life is never dull being a parent.

Please feel free to check my blog out at:

I have been enjoying reading your blog. Thanks for sharing.

- Bec.

Anonymous said...

A few Orthopedists and I recently started a blog to help out people who have questions about Orthopaedic issues.