the hyphens that define my life

Parents of the Year July 3, 2013

Please allow me to introduce you to the 2013 Parents of the Year:  Vince & Beth.

Yes, it is only July with a lot of year left, but we are strong contenders if not winners for sure for Parents of the Year.  Let me explain, then you be the judge.

The moment we pulled into the driveway of our new home in Spokane, WA on Friday, June 22, the kids were ready to get their bikes unpacked from the trailer so they could explore the new tree-lined neighborhood.  We made the boys wait until we toured the house, stretched from the 20+ hours of driving over three days, and then started unpacking.  Once their bicycles were free, the three boys, ages 12, 9 and 7, zoomed off to check out the elementary school.

Twenty to thirty minutes passed before Trace, the oldest, came home to report that Andre, the youngest, was injured and couldn’t make it home.  Vince jumped on his bike and rode the two blocks to the school to assess the situation.  I was on pick up duty with the car should he call.  Sure enough, the call came and I drove the two blocks to pick up the boy and the bike.

Andre was crying.  His thumb hurt and was swelling fast. He could move the thumb and we assessed it wasn’t broken.  Vince went to the local pharmacy and bought an Ace brand thumb/wrist support brace.  We decided to wait to see what happens.  As every day passed, his thumb got better.  He no longer needed the brace.

Andre seemed healed.  He was eating, sleeping, going to the bathroom, getting dressed and playing video games.  Going to the movies and  Spokane Hoopfest were no problem.  His normal everyday routine was back on track. He wasn’t riding his bike but we chalked that up to his inability, due to thumb injury, to use his right and only handbrake on his BMX bike.  When we were at Lake Coeur D’Alene on Sunday, we noticed that Andre wouldn’t swim. Andre played in the water but wouldn’t physically swim from point A to point B.  He would only catch and thow the football with one hand, his left hand.  He carried his right arm like it was wounded.  On the beach we, with enough of our own breaks and bang ups to have just enough experience with sports medicine, assessed his range of motion, muscle strength and resistance tests.  With the focus on his thumb all week, it was nine days after the initial injury before we realized that his shoulder hurt.  Based on our assessment, Andre could not raise his arm overhead and there were pressure points that hurt.  It did not look good. Great.

Something was definitely wrong though we still didn’t believe the injury was warranted Urgent Care, maybe he just bruised his shoulder, maybe just a sprain. We knew that nothing would be done for his shoulder other than rest, wrapping it, and not using it.   The plan was to find a doctor on Monday.  Right, find a doctor.  Remember, we’re new to the area.  Nothing like an injury to get established with a family doctor.

On Monday, the first doctor’s office I called wasn’t accepting new patients.  The second office talked to me for a half hour then referred me to urgent care but invited me back when we get settled.  Why would I call a doctor when I’m settled?  I only call doctors when it is urgent.  The third doctor I called was chosen because the office is ridiculously close to my house and the doctor has the first name as my oldest son, Trace.  A very rare name.  The receptionist told me another patient in the office also had the same name. Does that violate HIPAA?  In our Trace’s 12 years, we only know of Trace Worthington, professional skier and Trace Atkins, country western singer, never had we actually met someone!  Now there are 3 Trace’s living in the same city!

Back to Andre.

Dr. Trace had an appointment available on Tuesday.  On Monday night, Andre and Niko got in a fight and Niko punched Andre in his wounded right shoulder.  Brothers!  The pain, screams and tears were very real.  Andre settled down pretty quick and we managed to survive the night.

On Tuesday, Andre and I went to see Dr. Trace.  He and our son Trace could be cousins. Dr. Trace really reminds me of my nephew. Fascinating.  Another thing that I found interesting in the doctor’s office was that all signs are in English, Spanish and Russian.  Coming from Southern California where signage is posted in English, Spanish, and either one or all of Korean, Vietnamese or Chinese.  For the record, I can’t read Russian any better than Korean, Vietnamese or Chinese but I was fascinated to see new signage.  Apparently there are a lot of Russians in Spokane.  Who knew?

Again, back to Andre.

First we told young Dr. Trace the tale of how, now 12 days earlier, Andre was at the school playground with his brothers.  Andre climbed up the slide (how many times have I told all my kids and probably yours too, don’t climb up the slide?). He then attempted the daredevil feat of moving to the next slide and slipped and fell off the apparatus.  He landed on the soft cushy pad and tweaked his thumb and shoulder.  I explained, rationalized, justified to Dr. Trace that we, being the on-top-of-it parents that we are, waited so long to bring Andre in to get checked because he was functioning well through daily life.  Dr. Trace was kind enough not to pass judgement.  He examined Andre’s thumb.  Not broken but the bottom knuckle needs to heal and Dr. Trace said to keep wearing the brace. If he takes off the brace for repetitive action, like playing his beloved video games, only do so for short periods of time.  Andre almost cried with the news of video game restriction.  Dr. Trace knows little boys and reassured him he was allowed to play video games.  They had a brief discussion on controllers and thumb action, the movable controller knob hurts him to use but the buttons do not hurt. I sat there and listened and appreciated the conversation.

For Andre’s shoulder, Dr. Trace advised x-rays.  Matt the awesome x-ray tech played freeze tag (without running and only Matt was it), to get Andre, a squirrelly 7-year-old, to hold still long enough to take 4-5 x-rays of both shoulders.  One shoulder to see what it should look like due to growth plates and the other to see what, if anything, is damaged.

Back in the office with Dr. Trace, we viewed the x rays to see a funky jagged part on his right arm that is smooth on the left.  Dr. Trace conferred with a radiologists who confirmed Andre’s arm is indeed broken. Dr. Trace and I shared a laugh and he called Vince and I, jokingly, Parents of the Year.  Thank you, thank you, yes we are indeed.

The break is an impact fracture and has some special name, to my husband’s chagrin, I can’t remember. Because the break is at the high point of the arm so close to the growth plates, Dr. Trace has referred us to an orthopaedist and sent us on our way with Andre’s right arm in a sling and his right thumb in a brace.  Andre is the walking wounded. The orthopaedist, we’ve been advised, won’t do much other than assess and x-ray again in the future but that may change at the pending appointment.  Andre’s arm will not be put in a cast but perhaps he’ll get a more high-tech brace or sling.

For as squirrelly and wiley and obnoxious Andre can be most days, it always amazes me what a good patient Andre is for any medical staff, from phlebotomist to neurologist.  He doesn’t scream or cry.  He answers their questions in complete sentences.  He allows examinations without fuss.  You would be amazed to watch him give blood.  He has coached older kids giving blood for the first time, talking them off the ledge.  Andre, when he first had to begin having blood withdrawn regularly, has only pitched a fit when he was told he couldn’t take a vial of blood home with him.  I should bring everyone up to speed, Andre has a seizure disorder that is medicinally under control which requires blood work 2-3 times per year.  He has also had every procedure from spinal tap to MRI and even had an ambulatory helicopter ride (in an Ohio thunderstorm with yours truly).  We have been advised that Andre shouldn’t ride a bike, climb trees, and various other top priority boy stuff due to his condition, but we have decided that Andre only gets to be 7 once and he should live and enjoy life.  Besides, he manages to get hurt on his own, as any rambunctious kid, without any seizure involved, ie broken arm, see above.

How are we going to have Summer Fun now?  Our first stop after the appointment was to the grocery store to stock up on ice cream novelties.  Nothing heals wounds, breaks, bruised egos, or a feeling bad for your kid better than popscicles and ice cream. For the rest of summer, slings can get wet.  We’re still on track to keep jumping in the lakes.



2 Responses to “Parents of the Year”

  1. Shelley Jones Says:

    Oh Beth!! I am so sorry. LBJ is very worried about his BFF and whether this spells the end of over the phone electronics for the next several weeks. 🙂 On the positive side, it sounds like you found a great local doctor. In Temecula with family for the 4th–will check in after the holiday.

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