Fracture Timeline - It's The Way Hours Crawl

"Snap, crack, pop" those sounds are the catalyst for split-second assessments, instinctual decisions, and tears that fall somewhere between wailing and shrieking. Sometimes, unfortunately, these motions are routine. Here is one routine of the many -
(The below actually happened, the times of course are roughly estimated).

  • 10:18:27AM - A rubber ball in a game of four square bounces off my arm the wrong way in P.E. class in the 5th grade. 
  • 10:18:33AM - I am gripping my forearm; I look at my teacher and in those 6 seconds I try with every millimeter of my wide eyes to send her the message that "something bad happened."
  • 10:19:04AM - I've been ushered out of class and someone has run to get the school nurse. I wait in the hallway with my aide. My tongue is bleeding because I bit it; still, I am trying to hold the screams in. I'm not far enough away from my classmates.     
  • 10:22:14AM - Running down the hall is the school nurse with a bag of my slings, splints, and other bandages. She tries to do an assessment, I don't let her touch me, and pull my arm closer towards my body. Whimpering for my mother.
  • 10:24:08AM - My mother has been contacted. I am now sitting in the nurses office. The burn of the fresh fracture has somewhat subsided. I continue to grip tightly and hold still, I found the place and position where it doesn't hurt and by god I'm going to keep it there for as long as possible. I've begun to sweat through my clothes. 
  • 10:40:12AM - My mother arrives at the school, she has a sling. I tell her that it hurts too badly for me to go back to class this time. I tell her that I know it's two fractures in my upper arm. She knows how much I love school, I would never willingly miss time with my friends; she understands that this time it's serious - she calls Dr. Shapiro from the nurse's office.
  • 10:50:02AM - Dr. Shapiro will see me in the cast room once we get there. We just page him once we arrive, it's business as usual.
  • 10:52:15AM - With great care and coaxing my mom has transferred me from my wheelchair and into the car. My arm is jostled slightly from the transfer and that's when I let the screams out. 
  • 11:48:32AM - We arrive at Children's Hospital in Boston and race to the second floor. The cast technician recognizes me, but instead of a cheery hello his face quickly frowns when he sees that I am hunched over my arm, my face twisted in discomfort. He knows the deal, Dr. Shapiro is paged. 
  • 11:49:18AM - Dr. Shapiro has been paged and now the waiting begins. I am 10 years old but I know that we will be waiting for at least an hour or more. Dr. Shapiro is also the attending orthopedic surgeon; of course, today is his operating day and he is in surgery. I slip into a quick nap, my body growing cold in places because I refuse to move. I try to get some rest before the dreaded part comes, the x-ray.
  • 3:36:12PM - He strolls slowly down the hallway, everyone knows Dr. Shapiro is notoriously slow and unbelievably friendly. I see his bowed head looking downwards at the floor, his posture belies his reputation as 'hot-shot surgeon & O.I. expert.' Always in a dark suit and jacket, never in a hurry - the sight of him fills me with relief. We may have waited over 2 hours but he is always worth it, he always makes things better, most importantly -- he's the only one we trust. 
  • 3:46:17PM - First question from the doctor is always "where does it hurt?" He then places his fingers around the sore area, the first person aside from myself to touch the injury. Every time he does this I remember in Kindergarten how I thought his fingers were actually spider legs with x-ray vision at their tips. He never hurts me, and when he does his face winces in advance so I know that the discomfort is coming; to this day I have no idea how he knows! He scribbles out directions for the x-ray order form, telling me aloud everything he writes so that by the time I am in 7th grade we both know that I could probably fill out the form myself.
  • 3:50:12PM - My mom and I are waiting in the waiting room of radiology. It is only down the hall and no matter how many times I've been in this room there is always something new to distract me from the pain. The faces of children all around the world smile down at me from the ceiling in bright primary colors; there are actual x-rays of stuffed animals, robots, dinosaurs, and clown faces on the walls; the t.v. is always on; coloring books litter the tables. My mom settles in next to me after she has called home to make sure my older brother is home from school, she has updated him on what happened to me. He is my older brother and knows how to take care of himself my mom tells me, he is used to this too.  
  • 4:07:09PM - A radiologist finally calls my name, she looks at the form Dr. Shapiro had filled out and I plead with her silently to pay attention to the part that says "O.I. type III, fragile." She tells me we are just going to take a few pictures, I know the deal and zone her out. As we go down the hall to the x-ray room my heart is racing, I begin to sweat again. 
  • 4:08:12PM - My mother suits up and puts on an apron, she carries me onto the table and lays me down on my back. Already I am beginning to get uncomfortable. This is the first time all day that I was in this position with my broken arm, I had not yet found the 'comfort' position for laying down. As the radiologist asks me to put my arm down along my side the tears begin. My mom has to hold my arm down for me, and hold my other arm away from it. I squirm and cry through the entire process, it seems like I lay there for a year on that metal table.   
  • 4:20:03PM - Finally the pictures are done and I fold my arm back inwards. But now my bones are all riled up, confused and broken, they are uncertain of where to go to get comfortable again. I glare at the radiologist on the way out, she had done this to my arm. Stupid. Moron. Idiot. We go out to the waiting room and wait for her to give us the pictures to present to Dr. Shapiro.
  • 4:37:19PM - Finally the pictures arrive in a large red folder that covers my entire body. It is heavy. (This was sometime in the 90's so digital x-rays had not yet existed). We make our way back to the cast room, I hope that Dr. Shapiro would be waiting for us there, I wish with all my might that he hadn't gone back to the operating room. But of course that never happens. We will have to wait for him to come back. 
  • 5:03:21PM - Dr. Shapiro flicks on the light table and snaps the x-ray on top. He confirms what I had already known that morning, there were two cracks in my humerus, it was time for a cast. He put on his apron and Odie the cast guy got the fiber glass ready. "Dark blue" I say, "just like always" and that is the first time in the whole day I thought about something other than the fractures in my arm.  

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One Response to Fracture Timeline - It's The Way Hours Crawl

  1. You did an excellent job documenting and describing what it's like. So much so that I got chills remembering my own experiences. I think one of the worst parts is always the x-rays. There is never a good way to do it without the "evil" xray tech putting us in even more pain!


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