A fearless child, a broken bone

From the time he was able to walk, I was convinced I wouldn’t be able to keep this child alive until kindergarten. Gabe is fearless.

So it’s a small miracle that we only had to deal with one broken bone during his childhood — and it was relatively minor.

The story he told us — the story told here in this layout — sounded completely logical, and it’s what we believed for years. That is, until he casually mentioned that his story about how he broke his elbow was actually a lie.

Here’s the story he told us: (This is the journaling on this page.)

We knew it would happen sooner or later. You are a boy, after all, and broken bones are almost a given when you are a young, energetic and fearless boy.

It happened on July 8, 2009, when you were at day care (Cradles to Crayons) for the summer. Your class was walking to Ellis Park in Danville, and, as you were nearing the playground, everyone decided to run down the sledding hill near the pool. It’s a steep hill, and in what was sure to be a race between you and the other boys to see who could get down the hill the fastest, you fell on your left arm. Despite unknowingly having a broken bone (or two), you didn’t tell anyone at day care that you were in pain. You were afraid you’d get in trouble or be sent home from the park. You are at an age where you don’t like to show your pain, especially in front of your buddies, so you managed to make it through the entire day without mentioning your injury to anyone at school.

The second you walked in the garage door to the kitchen at home, however, you burst into tears. It didn’t occur to us that it could be broken, just because we knew you had to have made it through the whole day. So we iced it, gave you Tylenol and sent you to bed as usual. You seemed to be doing fairly well with it by then.

By morning, it was a different story. Your dad went to wake you up and lifted your arm while you were still sleeping. Still not fully awake, you screamed in pain. You got up and went into our room, laid on the bed and cried. We looked at it and discovered that it was pretty swollen, from your elbow down to your fingers. We called the doctor.

Your dad stayed home with you so I could work. (I was on deadlines.) Dr. Essig ordered X-rays, which showed at least one fracture near the elbow. She referred you to an orthopedic doctor at OrthoIndy in Brownsburg. Later that afternoon, we all went to the ortho appointment, where they did more X-rays. Dr. Kendall said the one fracture was obvious, but you also suspected there was another fracture, in the bone that butts up against the confirmed one and forms the elbow. There was fairly significant swelling around the joint, and he said that kids’ growth plates can hide breaks in X-rays. So he suspected two fractures.

Your arm was put into a splint, which was basically like a half cast on the bottom half of your arm that was wrapped in an Ace bandage from your hand to your armpit. You were mortally embarrassed by it. You were crying even before we left the cast room, and you bawled on the way home. When we got in the driveway, you wanted to make sure none of your neighbor friends were outside to see you. You kept saying you were going to stay inside at home for the whole 10 days you were to have the splint. And you were serious. You didn’t want to go to a birthday party you were invited to (Kaden’s), because you didn’t want anyone to see you. You absolutely did not want to go to day care.

Making things worse, you were supposed to keep your splint dry for the entire 10 days, and the night you got it on, you spilled milk on it at dinner. You burst into tears. You were not having a good time. Grandma brought you some popsicles and a card, and Nana brought you Dairy Queen for dinner. John and Colette sent you a card, too. Still, you were so unhappy. It took a few days of running quick errands and seeing that no one was laughing at you before you were comfortable going anywhere. When you went back to day care, you cried for a while (about 20 minutes, I believe), and then you realized it was kind of cool to the other kids. From there, it wasn’t too bad.

At your first follow-up appointment on July 17, Dr. Kendall released you to just a sling. I have to admit, I was very skeptical. After all, you are a rambunctious 7-year-old boy with no fear. I told Dr. Kendall about my reluctancy, and he just replied, “Just keep a close eye on his activities. Kids tend to regulate themselves.” I knew that was a stretch, and we were in for a long two weeks.

We took you out of day care, knowing that there was no way you would be careful enough with it when all of the kids were going on field trips, swimming, hiking and being active soon-to-be second graders. The timing was good anyway. We were set to leave for Colorado in two weeks, and then after Colorado, school was set to start.

Still, we had a long two weeks ahead of us. Just two days after your appointment and being released to a sling, you went to Caleb’s birthday party. During a friendly game of whiffle ball, you were caught on film sliding into second base — with your arm and sling between you and the ground. Geez! A week later, you were attempting to jump a rope fence at the county fair and fell forward, without your arm to catch you. There were several other near-misses, too. I was hopeful that we would return to the doctor for your next follow-up and be put into a hard cast. I was just sure that there was no way your arm would be able to heal well being unprotected like that.

No luck. At the second follow-up on July 28, despite the fracture still being obvious on the X-ray, and despite your not being able to bend your arm past a 90-degree angle, Dr. Kendall released you from your sling completely. Again, I expressed my concern for the bone healing well when not being protected. And again he said that we should just “closely monitor your activities” (yeah, right!), and that “kids will stop when they feel pain.” He also said that adults can get stiff joints, but kids tend to work them out. So he wasn’t worried about the fracture or your inability to bend your arm. I was not pleased! In fact, I was rather frustrated. But we trusted his advice, and, because our trip to Colorado was right around the corner, we were somewhat relieved you would not be bound by your sling for our vacation.

Near the end of our first day driving home to Indiana after our Colorado trip (Aug. 7), you were finally able to bend your arm enough to touch your shoulder with your fingers. It was still not completely able to move freely, but we were definitely getting closer! And you were being pretty good about not overdoing it.

Finally, at your last ortho visit on Aug. 18, the doc took one look at you, asked you if you could move your arm and sent you on your way. It took all of 2 minutes, and that was the end of that!

July and August 2009

That was his story. But the truth? Well, I guess he knew his worrisome mom would have probably had a small heart attack if I had known the truth at the time of the accident.

It turns out that what he was really doing when he broke his arm was climbing the 10-foot-tall (or so) entrance arch to PlayScape at the park…and he fell. I’m guessing that the teachers at the park didn’t see it happen, or we would have had the honest story from the get-go.

I’ll just leave it at that.

Published by Corie Farnsley

I am a freelance designer, writer and photographer with a passion for telling stories, especially those that are close to my heart. I love to document those stories in a tangible way — by making albums that will leave a legacy for my children and grandchildren.

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