Lily's Broken Arm

Last week we enjoyed a week in Devon, half of it was spent with my Mum and Sister who live in Exeter and the rest was spent with friends in nearby Teignmouth.

On the Thursday my friend and I took our children to a local attraction which included a small soft play area.

We then planned to take a train ride, maybe visit the model village and go to the play park. We could have stopped for some lunch or coffee, grabbed some ice creams and had a pleasant afternoon. But, alas, it was not meant to be and Lily landed badly on her arm going down a slide and after being checked out by the lovely and kind staff on hand at Trago, were advised to go to Newton Abbot Minor Injuries Unit for an x-ray.

After being seen by the triage nurse at the MIU (and navigating ourselves around the Mum of four badly behaved children tipping water all over the floor) we were advised that Lily was too young to be x-rayed there and would need to go straight to the main A&E Department at Torbay Hospital.

Matt met us there on arrival, wincing at Lily's arm and commenting that it was 'longer than the other one' and our friends kindly whisked Ollie off back to their home where we staying whilst we waited to hear what the damage was to Lily's arm.

My money was on dislocation but I was surprised when the lovely doctor informed us that Lily's elbow was broken right out of it's socket.


She was obviously being really brave. She'd refused to walk anywhere because her arm was hurting so badly but she'd managed a few smiles and didn't cry as much as I would have done. She patiently wiggled her fingers and made a fist for every doctor and nurse that came by and it was a few hours until she was given some painkillers.

I don't have much experience of broken bones so it hit me quite hard to be informed that Lily would need to have an operation to set her arm and hold the bone in place with wires. They had to call in the Orthopedic registrar from his home (!) and he arrived within the hour (impressive stuff). The whole team were sweet and kind and took the time to explain the procedure to both Matt and I as well as Lily.

Matt kept me together. He was so calm and was much better at asking questions than I was. My mind was racing and I just wanted to hear that my daughter would be OK, Matt was more analytical and far better at explaining to Lily what would happen. During a crisis I can seem calm on the outside but inside I'm usually falling apart, having him there helped me and Lily and I couldn't have done it without him.

We had a bit of a wait as an extra theatre team was called together and an emergency surgery was held for another patient but by 10pm Lily was wheeled into surgery.

What followed was really upsetting for me, even if Lily seems to have bounced back unscathed. The anesthetist and his team were friendly and professional, the nurse was understanding and helpful. I cannot fault the team at all but I fell down in my own expectations when I couldn't even make it out of the room before I started crying.

I shielded Lily's view from the needles being inserted into her right hand and spoke to her in a falsely bright and cheerful voice about mermaids, that if she thought of them he might dream about them whilst the clever doctors fix her arm. She looked straight at me and told me that she loved me and despite trying desperately to be brave, the tears leaked out and my voice broke when I told her that I loved her too.

It's silly, such accidents are common in children and operations routine. She was in the best hands and would be fine but my heart was so fearful for my child as my anxiety-ridden brain suggested every possible way this could go wrong and berated me for leaving her alone in the room with strangers (I wasn't allowed to stay any longer even if I wanted to).

It wasn't really that long until she was out but it was still hard waiting to see my child. We got to the recovery rooms just as she was waking up and they let me climb onto her bed and hold her in my arms as she cried. When she cried it didn't sound like my Lily, her usual air-raid siren wail, and I felt so helpless but the staff were once again amazing. Someone, I don't know who, had taken the time to quickly wrap up the left arm of her teddy bear and put it in a sling just like her arm which was a wonderful, thoughtful thing to do. We're going to keep it just like that now.

We didn't have to wait for very long at all to go up to the room on the children's ward which was prepped for us. Only one parent could stay and so I was given a bed in the room with Lily and I was grateful to be able to stay with her and still lay down to try and sleep. It didn't come easy, like when she was a newborn and every little sound would startle me awake, so it was that night with every whimper she made and every time a nurse came into the room to carry out her observations.

At around 3am they found she had a temperature and so we woke her to give her some medication. At that point she was quite chatty, excited to see her teddy and the little dog cuddly she had taken in with her. I curled up at the bottom of her bed and we chatted for a bit and I read her the messages from all our friends and family who had seen my post on Facebook about the incident. Lily found it amusing that I was 'sleeping in a cupboard bed'. She soon drifted off to sleep and when we woke later she was very tearful and fearful of moving her arm, even to walk.

Despite all that we were discharged and able to go home before midday. And so we returned to our friend's home, exhausted, hungry and shell-shocked.

I did feel bad that we'd interrupted their holiday with the crisis but was grateful for them looking after us all!

I'm happy to report that Lily is now doing very well. She was sensitive and clingy for a few days but is now used to her arm in a cast. We're home and waiting on an appointment for our local fracture clinic to go through the next stages and I'm actually sad we couldn't have stayed in Devon just to have the comfort of seeing the familiar and nice staff at Torbay Hospital - I can't thank them enough.

I will report on the better bits of our holiday over the next couple of weeks - I just wanted to get this episode out of the way first!

With it being the summer holidays, I'd be grateful if anyone has any suggestions for one-arm friendly activities! Leave any suggestions in the comments below - thanks in advance!
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