Last weekend, Rafael had a hard landing off a slide. He didn’t recover the way he normally does, and a trip to the emergency room uncovered that he had a buckle fracture in his leg.
While the ER docs were confident in their diagnosis, they still wanted us to follow up with an orthopedist in the next day or two to confirm and give us longer term care instructions. We were told that they would call the next day, but if we hadn’t heard from them by the afternoon, we should contact them.
We realized after the fact that the number they would probably be calling on would be our home phone number. We both wanted to be in our respective offices the next morning to get things taken care of before leaving for the doctor, but that would mean that no one would be home to answer the phone. While we had never used it before, we remembered that Comcast has a forwarding option that allowed us to redirect our home number to our cell phone (*72 for Comcast phone lines). That turns out to be pretty useful, and I think we might use that in the future when we are away.
To our surprise, the orthopedist did actually call us before noon, and they wanted to see us later that day. We rushed home and took Rafael in. Fortunately, they did not need to redo the x-rays, but they were able to show us a copy of the films taken the day before:
The buckle fracture is the small bump circled in the red. It won’t take long to heal – just two and a half weeks. Phew!
Rather than leaving him in the splint, they opted to put him in a plaster cast. This would give him a little more protection, and it would also allow him to put weight on it as it healed and became less painful. This was a relief for us, since Rafael is a very active kid, and we knew that forcing him to crawl for weeks on end would be frustrating for him.
Wrapping a cast on a 16 month old is only slightly less complicated than doing the x-rays, but together with the nurses we figured out a method. We brought over a hospital bed tray and put the iPad on top of it. The orthopedist and nurse worked under the tray, out of Rafael’s vision, and we used the iPad to distract him from what was going on under the table. Rafael sat on my lap during the procedure while I helped keep his focus on the iPad, and Aviva coordinated with the medical staff about the cast and how to hold Rafael’s leg. It worked pretty well, although I haven’t managed to get out the plaster that dripped on my jeans and sneakers
When we got Rafael home, he seemed pretty oblivious to the cast. He crawled around and played, and soon he was even trying to climb things, although being mindful not to put any weight on his bad foot. He even tried to go down a small play slide in our basement, so clearly there is no lingering fear of slides:
Over the course of the week, Rafael has grown more comfortable putting weight on his foot. By the next day, he somehow managed to climb up onto our bed. A day after that, he was pulling himself up into a standing position for short periods. By yesterday, he was walking around comfortably as though there was nothing wrong with him.
I took Rafael to the Museum of Science today, one week after his accident. He was wearing a sock over his cast, so you couldn’t see exactly what it was. A woman looked down at his feet as we walked by and said, “I think someone lost a shoe.” I smiled and explained that actually Rafael had a broken bone in his leg. She gasped and said, “Well, clearly it isn’t slowing him down a bit!”
Indeed. Rafael is walking around as confidently as he ever did. In fact, I think he may even come out ahead in the end, since managing the weight of the cast is actually improving his balance.
In the video below, you can see just how well he manages to walk as he goes up and down a small ramp at the museum: