Olivia and the Broken Leg

This is how the day began:  a wonderful breakfast with my brother, his wife and their daughter, Evelyn.  My parents, the kids and I were visiting Burnt Hills, NY for Evelyn's 2nd birthday party.  We spent the morning preparing delicious food for the party while the children played.

The party went off without a hitch.  The food was a hit.  The cake, so cute and yummy.  The punch was intriguing and blue (and tasted good too).  Everyone had a great time making paper fish.  Then, the party was over.

After cleaning a little, we drove to the playground.  My brother, Nate, had been talking about this playground since we arrived in NY the evening before.  "You won't believe this place.  It's amazing!  It's three stories tall!"

Amazing it was.  When we got there and I saw this giant play structure with the two huge tunnel slides coming out the side, my first thought was, "I don't want to go up there."  The kids squealed with delight.  I couldn't get them out of the car fast enough.  Before I knew it, Cameron was already on the third story and sliding down and Olivia was climbing up the very dangerous rock wall.  I called my brother over to spot her, but she made it up all by herself.  When she got to the top she yelled, "I did it by myself!"  She was so proud.

She wanted to go down the slide, but she didn't want to do that by herself.  Uncle Nate offered to take her down with him and so she waited.  Then Evelyn decided she wanted to go down the slide too.  So they waited for her.  My Mom, Jennifer and I all stood at the bottom of the slide waiting.  I tell myself now, though I'm not sure that it's true, that I knew it was a bad idea for three people to go down at once, but I never said it out loud.  This slide was very tall and curvy.  When they started to come down I swear it began to bend or sag in the middle.  It definitely shook a bit.  And it sounded like they were rolling down it, not sliding gently on their bums.

Through the opening they came and my hand immediately went to cover my gasping mouth.  Olivia's leg was twisted around and her foot was behind her shoulder almost touching her ear.  She began to cry, but I could not move.  My Mom picked her up.  She said she had a boo boo.  After a minute I finally got up the courage to go look at her leg.  She was pointing to her ankle, so I kept checking her ankle for swelling.  It looked OK, but she was really crying.  She was in a lot of pain.  She would settle down for a few seconds, but then start crying again saying, "Owww, it really hurts." 

Nate is a RN.  I called him over to check her leg.  He compared both legs.  He poked it and moved it, but he didn't see anything visibly wrong with it.  He thought maybe she just bruised it.  My parents tried their best to distract her.  She didn't have a nap, so the thought occurred to us that maybe being overtired was exaggerating things a bit.  It was when my Mom handed her over to my Dad and her eyes got big and she screamed, "Owww, it really hurts!" again that I knew something was terribly wrong.

Nate, my Dad and I all drove poor baby girl to the emergency room.  It was a ten minute drive.  I called Damien.  He didn't answer.  I knew he was in his EMT Intermediate class, but I called again thinking he might pick up.  He didn't pick up.  I sent him a text, "Call me ASAP. 9-1-1."  I waited, but he did not call me.  I called again and he answered.  It just so happened that his class that day was about fractures in children and how kids could bleed out very quickly from a compound fracture to the femur.  He kept asking me a lot of questions that I just couldn't answer.  I told him I would call him back when I knew something.

Two minutes later Damien called my brother Nate who was sitting next to me in the driver's seat.  Nate tried to reassure him that she would be fine.  We were all trying to convince ourselves it was just a bruise and that by the time we got to the ER she would calm down and fall to sleep.  But I knew it was something more.  She would drift off to sleep and then wake up crying and saying "Owww, it really hurts."  My baby girl is a tough little cookie.  She hurts herself, but she shakes it off and continues on.  She was not calming down and it was killing me.

After a very brief registration at the ER we were taken right back to an exam room.  A very nice Physician's Assistant came to check Olivia's leg.  She was in so much pain.  She was holding my hair and clinging to my shirt.  The PA did the same thing Nate did.  He moved her leg and straightened her leg and pushed and poked.  She did not cry out significantly.  She cried steadily the whole time.  The PA ordered x-rays of her whole left leg.  When he left, Nate picked up her leg and her eyes got big with fear and she yelled out.  Every time she did that it broke my heart.  I asked Nate to stop touching her (with all the kindness and love I could muster at the moment.)

She was so good during the x-ray.  I went in with her and she held my hair.  Two minutes later we were in a private exam room with a TV.  We put on "Spongebob Squarepants."  It distracted her, but she was still crying.  The PA came in a few minutes later.  His exact words were, "Well, now I know why she was crying so much.  She has a proximal fracture of the tibia."  Hand over my gasping mouth again.  I knew something was really wrong, but the whole time I had been trying to convince myself it wasn't anything serious.

Apparently, it wasn't that serious, considering what could have happened.  The break was clean and reset itself.  She didn't need surgery, just a cast from her toe to her thigh.  They gave her some Tylenol with hydrocodone (SP?).  A narcotic that would calm her as well as ease the pain.  It seemed to work.  What really worked was when the cast started to harden.  She had been using her muscles to try to stop the pain, but once she didn't have to anymore she felt so much better.  She started talking and smiling and I knew that everything would be just fine.

I have a photo of the moment they come through the opening.  I didn't realize this until the cast was on and we were getting ready to leave the hospital.  When I remembered what I was doing at the moment she broke her leg I took out my camera and scanned through the photos.  There it was!  A photo of the moment.  I couldn't look, so I gave the camera to Nate.  His reaction was, "Oh."  But not a surprised "Oh!" or a "Oh," like someone just told him his hamburger was ready.  It was an "Oh," like he was reliving a very bad memory.  I finally got up the courage to look at the photo.  It gave me the chills.  It was really hard for me to look at.  The worst part, besides her leg bent in the wrong direction, was the look on her face.  Those big, wide, pain stricken eyes.  My poor little baby.  For obvious reasons I decided not to post that photo on here. 

Olivia, cast on her leg, feeling a little better, says to me, "Mommy, I want to see my broken leg."  I showed her the photo.  Every five minutes for the rest of the day she was asking to see her broken leg. 

The ride back to my brother's house was so wonderful.  My little girl was back!  She sang songs and told stories and laughed.  When we arrived at the house we propped Olivia up on the couch and she immediately started making her demands.  The first night in bed was a bit uncomfortable for her, but ibuprofen helped.  I didn't really cry until the next morning when we woke up.  I saw on Olivia's face the sudden realization that she really can't do anything without assistance.

It has been a few days now, and she has adapted very well.  We kept her still and quiet for the first two days, but now she is mobile.  She can slide herself off of the couch and scoot herself around on her bum or drag her legs behind her in a commando crawl.  Cameron still has a playmate, it just takes a little longer for her to follow him.  This evening they were playing and Damien took Cameron into the living room.  He yelled, "Help me," and Olivia responded from the play room, "I'll save you Cameron!"  She started scooting toward her brother and I couldn't help but laugh at the scene.  She's so adaptable and it just makes me proud!

Before Olivia broke her leg she loved to be carried around.  Sometimes she would stand in the middle of a room and ask me to pick her up.  If I hesitated, or if I was busy or had my hands full she would cry and say, "Pleeeaase, I can't walk!"  Ah, the irony.


  1. Poor baby! It is the worst feeling in the world to have something happen to your children or to see them hurt. I think each of us that day at the park was thinking, in the back of their heads, that this wasn't a good idea, but of course hindsight is 20/20. I all wish we could reverse time and prevent things, but we can't. :(
    I am so glad Olivia is adapting well, she is such a good little girl! Sending lots of hugs and kisses her way (and to all of you too)!

  2. What an ordeal! I'm so glad she's doing better, it's amazing how kids adapt, isn't it? How long is she in the cast?

  3. That must have been horrifying to watch. I'm glad to hear she's recovering and adapting so well. She is a strong little girl!

  4. Typical Olivia, and by that I mean that she is the Queen of bouncing back. I hope that that carries through the rest of her life. Nothing will keep her down. I don't know if it helps or if you even want to hear it but, I hear that these sort of things happen when you have children.

  5. Oh so sad. Your story breaks my heart. I am so glad she is feeling better. What a brave little girl (and mommy).


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