Thursday, August 27, 2009

Starshine Becomes Ironman

Clearly, it's been a while since I blogged. Some of that is due to a busy month and using my usual blogging time to run my online query workshop. This week, I've been absent because up until yesterday, I was staying with Starshine at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital.

On Monday night, at around 8 p.m., Clint and I heard a thump and then ear-splitting screams from upstairs. The kind of screams that every parent knows signal something is really wrong.

I got upstairs first and found Starshine lying on the floor at the top of the stairs, his right arm stretched out in front of him. I took one look at his arm and thought, "That isn't the right shape" followed quickly by "Is that bone poking out of his skin?"

We spent the next several minutes keeping him calm while we called our pediatrician to see if we should try to move him or if we should call 911. (It should be noted that I had to take a 1 min break to splash cold water on my face so I wouldn't pass out or vomit. I then splashed cold water on Starshine's face to keep him conscious as his face turned gray and his eyes kept rolling into the back of his head.) The pediatrician said call 911 and so we called and then asked a friend to come over to stay with our other children. The paramedics arrived with sirens (thus ensuring maximum neighborhood audience for our exit from the house) and it took four of them 20 minutes to stabilize his arm enough to get him on a stretcher.

I rode in the ambulance next to him (trying desperately not to get car sick because we soooo did not need that at the moment). Clint met us there. The rest of Monday evening was spent in the emergency room while Starshine was given an i.v. of morphine and other painkillers, taken to get x-rays, and then sedated for the first attempt to re-set his bones.

Yes, bones. The x-rays showed he'd completely snapped both bones in his forearm. One snapped and went through his skin. The other snapped and slid on top of itself. And all of this happened because he decided it would be fun to stand on top of his brother's rolling desk chair and jump. The chair slid out from underneath him and he landed with his right arm fully extended, palm flat on the floor.

And yes, he broke his writing arm. But I digress.

We'd arrived at the E.R. at around 9 p.m. They tried to set his bone at around midnight. He was under heavy sedation and thankfully doesn't remember a thing. After the re-set, they took more x-rays, called a pediatric orthopedic specialist, and began studying the break. At 3:20 a.m., the doctor informed us that Starshine needed surgery in the morning to insert rods in his bones and to irrigate the tissue broken by the bone to lessen the risk of infection.

Clint left for home, arriving at 4 a.m. to send our amazing friend Derreck back to his house (where he had to get up and do a full day of work in two hours!). After grabbing an hour and a half of sleep, he got our other boys up and ready for school and returned to the hospital. I stayed with Starshine, tried to nap in a chair --not an easy thing to do when both of Starshine's arms were immobilized (he had the i.v. in the elbow of his left arm) and the morphine made the skin on his face itch, and went with him to the surgery prep area where a nice doctor explained to me that Starshine needed two long titanium nails to "shish-ka-bob" both of his bones from wrist to elbow.

Clint made it back to the hospital minutes before they took Starshine back to surgery. We said goodbye, said a prayer, and then headed out to a waiting room full of other worried parents.

The surgery went well and they kept Starshine another night to manage his pain with morphine and give him three strong doses of anti-biotic. Paul came up to stay with him for a couple of hours so I could go home, get a shower, and take my toothbrush back with me to spend a second night in the hospital. We brought the other boys with us and other friends brought us pizza for dinner.

I hoped to get caught up on some sleep that second night because Starshine had a private room and there was a couch for me to use but his pain was difficult to manage. Once we finally had him settled in and sleeping, I crashed only to wake up four hours later to hear the CRN call the nurse to help her because Starshine wasn't getting enough oxygen in his blood.

Few statements can bring an exhausted mother straight out of her sleep and onto her feet like that one. We spent 45 minutes re-positioning him to open his airways and re-medicating him, and then the nurse took out his i.v. since it was kinked. By the time they left, I was awake.

I stayed awake until around 5:30 in the morning and then crashed again only to be awakened an hour later by the doctor coming in to check on him and release him to go home that day. He asked me several questions but at that point, I'd had about seven hours of sleep in two days and while I realized sounds were coming out of his mouth, none of them resolved themselves into coherent words. I think he finally realized I was too exhausted to comprehend anything and told the nurse to return when Clint was there to give us our final instructions.

Poor Starshine was such a trooper. After the initial break, he didn't cry or scream, though he certainly was in enough pain to warrant it. He has to wear a full arm cast for the next month and then a partial cast for another 2-3 weeks. In 4-6 months, he has to have out-patient surgery to remove the titanium rods which is a shame because he's sort of excited to be turning into Ironman.

I slept hard last night but already feel completely exhausted again. It's going to take a few nights of unbroken sleep for me to be back to normal again. I appreciate everyone who brought dinner (Littrels, McEntires, Mike) and everyone who sent prayers and well-wishes for him.

And I have to note that the staff at Vanderbilt took excellent care of us. I'm nothing but impressed with the staff and the facility. If you have to take your child to a hospital, that's definitely the one to choose.


  1. I'm so happy to hear that he is okay and joking about Ironman, LOL. I hope he continues to heal well and fast!

  2. I was eagerly anticipating your blog about the incident. We heard bits and pieces from Starshine (while on morphine); Scientist and hubby - I knew you would be able to give a report only a mother could. We spent 8 days in a hospital with your hubby when he was a little tyke...God love you and hope you finally get some rest to get you ready for the next time!

  3. *hugs*

    I'm glad to hear that he's doing better, relatively speaking. Hope the healing process is quick and as painless as possible.

  4. Wow. What an experience, one no parent wants to endure. I followed the updates on Twitter and prayed often for Starshine aka Ironman, you, the rest of the family and his medical team. I'm glad to hear the worst is behind you.

    I hope the recovery goes well. I broke my right arm in first grade, my writing arm, and know how tough it is learning to scribble discernable words with the other. Maybe some cute little gal will take pity on Starshine and help him with his work. After all, he must look like a major hero with that patriotic cast.

    Hope you're able to catch up on your sleep soon. Sleep deprivation and parenting do seem to go together, don't they?

  5. Somehow I think it is a bad thing that he is taking after my penchant for grievous injuries this early in life.

    I'm so glad that he does not have to wear the cast for 4-6 months. I was kind of hoping he would get to keep the rods as well. Makes for a great conversation piece.


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