911 Fractures

Andrew, my younger brother, would later tell me my mother thought he was annoying me yet again when she heard my screams. “But I wasn’t doing anything. I was just sitting on the kitchen floor flipping through the dictionary – you know the yellow one? I was looking at all the pictures.”
Meanwhile in my bedroom I was face down on the floor with a pool of blood around my head, my wheelchair tipped forward onto me, and both of my legs had snapped in half. The events of this incident are choppy in my memory, like some mind-twist of a horror film the scenes cut in and out of my mind. When I really think about it I remember the fall (I can see it happening to myself): the front wheels of my wheelchair had hit something and I was lurched forward, still seat belted in, but by the time I had hit the floor my wheelchair was at a forward tilt two feet behind where I was sprawled. I screamed. I don’t remember who I was screaming for or what I screamed, but I made the loudest noise I could possibly muster; it wasn’t from the pain of my two broken legs, at that moment the pain hadn’t even registered to me yet, I screamed because I was totally freaked out by the endless amounts of blood that poured out of me. There was so much of it!

The next thing I remember my mother had rushed in my room and made a sickening groaning noise. Up until that point I had never had a fracture that involved THAT much blood (when my rod migrated and protruded from my skin there was just a little trickle); what happened after my mother came in are now just a blur. Suddenly I was on a pillow on her lap and my older brother had called 911. I could hear him just outside my room giving the emergency dispatcher the information “my sister she has Osteogenesis imperfecta, and she just fell from her wheelchair. There is a lot of blood everywhere…it’s a brittle bones disease.” Next I remember he was shouting at my mother “Mom! Mom! They said don’t move her spine or her neck, it might be broken!” But at that point I had recovered a bit from the impact of the fall. The pain from my fractured legs had begun to settle in, all I knew was that some part of my legs had broken – so searing and encompassing was the sharpness that I couldn’t pin point an exact location of the fractures. I also knew that no other part of my body was broken, or at least that my back and my neck were fine:
“No. My neck and my back are fine. It’s my legs. I broke both of my legs!” I hollered back out. It seemed only a few minutes while we waited for the ambulance to come. During that time I had never seen my mother look so horrified and confused while she had me on her lap, not even touching me because she was afraid of what other damage she might discover or cause.

When the emergency medical crew arrived they first cleaned up the blood and then shone a flashlight into my mouth and up my nose. “Where did all of this blood come from? Well she has braces on her teeth so maybe the metal cut her mouth when she fell? She’s not bleeding anymore though.”
“She was born with OI, it means she has brittle bones, it’s a very rare condition. This has never happened before. But she says her legs are broken, she knows when something is broken” my mother told them.
It was clear to me that my mother was being fiercely protective of me, not letting them touch or move me at all. The emergency crew moved around my room slowly, at that point they were all trying to figure out how to move me from my mother’s lap to the stretcher.  
“This is going to be a challenge guys, we’ve never come across this before.”

I don’t know whose idea it was but someone had contacted Dr. Shapiro, my orthopedic and surgeon. The phone was handed to one of the emergency personnel and I could imagine my doctor, who has known me since birth, catching him up on the fast facts of O.I.
“Alright guys, the doc says to not apply any pressure anywhere. We can’t use the head or neck stabilizer on her; he says to just use medical tape instead of straps or buckles. We can slide the board underneath the pillow that she is on now and then put that on top of the stretcher – he says we absolutely cannot touch her. The doc is going to be waiting for us in the emergency room at Children’s in Boston… alright so let’s do this slowly and steadily.”
At this point I don’t remember every lying so still or stiff my entire life. I was afraid to move, to breathe, to know what would happen and all I wanted was for Dr. Shapiro to make me better. I wanted to skip all of this stuff and get to the point where I could just pass out on the hospital table as the heat of the fiber glass cast was cooling against me.   

When we got to the emergency room at Children’s Dr. Shapiro trusted no one else to touch me but him. He took all of the tape off of my head and asked me what was hurting the most, he then ordered an x-ray machine to be sent into the room and took the pictures himself. He gently touched my hip area and when I whined he quickly backed off “Okay so it looks like there’s some soreness to the pelvic area so we should get a few pictures of that too.” After he looked at the x-rays it was confirmed that both of my femurs had broken and there was also some damage to my pelvic bone, my head had severe bruising and he when I didn’t cry out as he gently touched the bones in my face he knew all he had to do was focus on the lower half of my body. I was put under general anesthesia and when I woke up two bulky light blue casts were on my legs; I remember feeling the relief that it was all over now, the crisis had subsided and while usually I would be excited to get back to school – this time I just closed my eyes and fell into a deep sleep.

911 Fractures:
  • The fast facts of telling someone in an emergency setting about O.I.: it means she has brittle bones, there have been numerous fracture before, there is a specific doctor and hospital that she always goes to. This allows strangers to the condition to know what it is they are dealing with and where the end destination for them is
  • If possible it's important to keep awake. During the wait for the ambulance and on the ride to the hospital I remember that everyone was trying to keep me awake and conscious
  • In this incident I was in middle school and old enough to know what was broken, but this might not always be the case for younger children. Use your best judgment because you probably know the child the best! And if you're unsure it is probably best to have them be transported to a hospital right away so that x-rays can provide the confirmation for you
  • I was lucky  that my doctor was around at this time and I would advise the emergency team handling the situation to speak directly with the orthopedic doctor. Otherwise, now you know to that added pressure is not the way to go and should be avoided at all costs when transporting someone with O.I. Use tape! 
  • It was helpful that my family and the emergency crew remained calm. I probably would have been in far more discomfort and unable to focus on where I was most injured
  • Listen to the person who is injured
  • I don't know how my mother got me from being face down on the ground to being on my back on a pillow, but she did it - and the best thing about all of that is that I don't remember the transition so I don't remember how much that probably hurt
  • If there was a traumatic fall of some kind it will probably take a few minutes for shock to subside and for the person to connect with their body again - trust that the injured person will tell you where it hurts when the time comes!

Posted in , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. RSS feed for this post.

3 Responses to 911 Fractures

  1. Wow. That did sound like a nasty fall! Glad you didn't break your neck and/or back like they were assuming! I've tipped over twice and luckily I didn't break either time. Of course I've had many close calls! Thankfully there was someone close to catch me mid-air! But tipping and falling is a freaky feeling. It seems like the ground comes at you at lightning speed!

  2. i remember those days :-( the problem with where i live most are just plain idoits, the ambulance drivers automatically set my legs no matter how much my mom or i begged them not too and that always made the break worse. no matter how much you try to explain OI to the people here they just don't get it. i had some one at the hospital tell me there was no such a thing as OI when i was in a car wreck 19 years ago it bent the rod in my left leg and the ambulance drivers set it on the sense when i got to the Er. there were no doctors willing to treat my conditon they didnt even cast my leg which would have relived some of the pain but because they did that to me the doctors said the pin is bent in a boomer rang shape and it cant be removed and the part where the bend in the rod is the bone cant heal over it for some reason

  3. Ravensunn: I definitely cringed as I was reading your comment. I am SO sorry that you went through that kind of hell, yikes!


Copyright © 2011 Perfectly Imperfecta. Powered by Blogger.