Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Proximal humerus fracture - part 4

If you need to catch up, you can read part 1, part 2 and part 3 :)

Our second visit to the hospital was very different from the first one. For one, we were there less than 2 hours, which went by very fast. It's not surprising, as there was a lot to do:

  • got registered at the clinic, 
  • waited a bit in the waiting room
  • received our requisition to go get some new x-rays
  • went to get those done
  • came back to the waiting room for a while
  • got called into a consultation room
  • waited a few minutes more
  • met up with the orthopedic surgeon
  • back to the waiting room for a bit
  • to the "Body Shop" to get a half-cast
The consult with surgeon was quick and slightly confusing, as there was a lot to absorb. We tried to prepare questions ahead of time, but even then we felt like we didn't ask enough questions. The x-ray was still showing the bone very much disconnected and displaced, but the surgeon didn't seem all that worried about it, expecting that gravity will continue to work on it and pull things together.
He recommended that we get a half-cast, which is basically a splint made out of plaster, and tied together with a bandage. 

BR was kind of happy to get the half-cast, as it gave her a certain feeling of legitimacy, like she belonged with all the other broken-armed and broken-legged kids. The big arm is definitely more impressive looking than just seeing her arm in the sling. Even her new collar and cuff sling was much more serious looking than the original.

The one thing we didn't know or remember about the plaster for the cast was that it gets hot after it gets applied as it sets. I think they don't mention it to the kids to avoid freaking them out in advance. However, in hindsight it might have been a good idea to prepare BR, because she really got quite scared and worried about all the heat. She was ok while the cast was being put on, but afterwards she kept crying and complaining about the heat. I think she was worried it was going to be like that forever. A few minutes later she was visibly relieved as things cooled off.
We left the clinic with an appointment set for two weeks later. Things were quite a bit easier with the half-cast, especially the nights and sleeping. The only downside was that BR was a lot hotter with the cast, so we ended up installing a ceiling fan in her room. Our instructions were not to remove the splint for the whole two weeks, and we were worried about BR's skin getting sweaty and itchy, but luckily she only complained about it a handful of times and just blowing into the cast helped. I think a half-cast is much easier to handle from that perspective than a full cast.
The shirts and dresses I had prepared for BR the previous week really came in handy with the half cast - we were able to put them on and take them off without disturbing her arm at all, and allowed us to change outfits every day and give BR some variety and a chance to make some choices around what she was going to wear every day.
BR's energy was slowly returning, and with that came new challenges. She felt more secure with her arm bandaged up, but we knew her bone wasn't together yet and needed to move down some more, so we often needed to remind her to let her arm hang down, and not jostle it too much. She was also getting bored with the few activities available to her, and looking forward to any kind of new activity. We downloaded a whole bunch of new games to the tablet, introduced her to a bunch of new card games and generally tried to give her some things to anticipate, like birthday parties and picnic lunches.

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