Last week my daughter put a laundry net on her head, took herself up the neighbour’s stairs and promptly tumbled down them. Hearing her cries we raced to the scene and found her on the top flight, clutching her arm, saying ‘The dog pushed me.’ Said dog was now at the bottom of the stairs so it seemed plausible. But blame wasn’t relevant – I was more concerned with my wee girl’s welfare. Of course, every time I touched her arm she screamed and it was hard to work out exactly what was wrong; a sprain, a break or just fear having fallen? When chocolate raisins failed to calm her and she sobbed she wanted to sleep on the sofa I knew Isla was trying to make the pain go away. Back home I called my wife who was away on work for the week. No answer, she was still driving from one workplace venue to another. It was clear Isla couldn’t settle so I bundled her into the car and headed for the hospital, wondering if I was over-reacting. And wondering if I really should have manoeuvred her painful arm through the seatbelt – and should have called an ambulance instead.
By the time we arrived, Isla was asleep and I was guiltily waking her up. I ran inside carrying her, nearly being flattened by an idiot in a 4×4 who wouldn’t stop at the small zebra crossing as we crossed. The receptionist was brilliant and within minutes Isla was in the Triage room being assessed. I marvelled at her quiet dignity as she answered countless ‘Does this hurt?’ questions and prodding with a soft ‘Just a little bit.’ Standing there all hunched and forlorn, my daughter held her left hand in her right and put her whole trust in the strangers around her. To reassure her, I reminded Isla of the Maisy Mouse story where Maisy goes to hospital with a broken leg, meets the doctor and has an X-Ray. Isla joined in and told the nurses all about it. Another nurse appeared, was impressed by her memory and confident speaking, and began cooing, ‘Isn’t she cute?’ That’s my girl!
The doctor or surgeon or consultant, anyway a very nice man called Sunny, came in smiling – his disposition matching his name. Another check and it was time to go to the X-Ray Dept. I had been carrying my daughter about up to this point but one of the nurses then asked if Isla could walk. I let Isla lead the way. But was it really such a good idea for her to take the weight of a possibly broken left arm in her right hand, instead of resting it on her stomach while being carried?
We followed the coloured floor dots and took our place in the X-Ray room. I was given a heavy lead coat and Isla was given a chair. My instinct was to drape my daughter’s body in the garment rather than protect myself from the X-Rays. Afterwards I wondered why she could not have her own, smaller coat. Several X-Rays were taken, mainly because she was in pain and kept moving. I gently held her fidgety fingers, once receiving my own dose – but I assumed, like the X-Rays vets give to small pets, that X-Rays for kids are not as powerful as those for adults.
Afterwards I was given a slip and we walked back. I noticed a red X on the paper but paid little attention. Isla was by now quite calm but wincing in pain. I had a chance to call Kate again but she was still driving. The doctor saw the X and gave a surprised look, then told me there was obviously something amiss. Father and daughter had a cuddle as the doctor swivelled his monitor and revealed the results. A buckle fracture and a crack on the ulna. As I read the notes onscreen Isla read out some capital letters X L T, to the nurses astonishment. She started to perk up and chat to the nurses, and even hummed a tune. One of the nurses joined in and was promptly given a look that said shhh. When asked if she thought the singing was any good Isla replied firmly ‘No’ with all the bluntness of an X Factor judge. Now Kate called and I broke the upsetting news of the break. Isla and mum spoke to each other and it was clear Isla just wanted her back. Very hard being an absent parent at times like these.
Now we set off to a side room where we tried to remove her top. I suggested cutting the sleeve and Isla freaked, diving under my chair and sobbing that she didn’t want her arm cut off. It was some minutes before I could calm her and we succeeded in pulling the top off in one piece. So now came the bandage and half a cast. Isla tested it out and gave a satisfied nod. She was fading fast and we needed to get home so she could go to bed. Sweet as anything she said her goodbyes, got lots of kisses and waves and was carried to the car.
A sleepless night followed where she could not settle and was in and out of bedrooms. Calpol worked its magic eventually and Isla fell asleep in her own bed. At half five she emerged fully awake and badgered me to go downstairs, still in some pain. This was the day she was due to go to Grans and stay over but I decided that a day quietly spent at home was best. By three o’clock Isla was stir crazy and leaping off chairs, falling off her balance bike and rolling all over the dog. How to stop a 2 year old from moving? You tell me!
Time is a great healer and so is Isla. Just 6 days later, the cast was replaced by a flexible bandage. For safety, we have elected to keep her off Nursery this week. Isla has enjoyed all the cards, treats and visits by friends and family – and our only worry is she might think breaking her arm is a good thing! As for me? I’m glad I made the right call to get the wee one to hospital and promise to keep laundry nets, dogs and daughters away from each other on stairs.
In a year’s time Isla probably wont remember a thing.
I know I will.