Touch of Spice

A trip to the emergency room

I knew there was a chance it would happen sometime but I never once considered it might be my fault.

Sunday was the first trip to the emergency room with one of the girls.

It was Nikki, which meant we drove to the hospital.

Had it been Katie, her wails would have brought an ambulance before we had time to make the call.

With Katie on my hip and Nikki considering ways to get out of a high-armed chair that was pressed up against the desk, I decided it was time to intervene before she just jumped. I took her hand and lowered her to the floor.

That was my mistake and this is a warning to other parents of small children.

The action caused what's commonly called "nursemaid's elbow."

When she stopped moving her arm and was crying each time it was jostled, we decided it was time.

We collected the things you can't leave without -- a bottle, a blankie, a bunny and Katie.

To Katie, it was an adventure.

"Go see doctor?" she asked over and over on the drive.

We arrived at the emergency room and laid Nikki on the bed. Her tears had dried by then and she was becoming more interested in her surroundings than her arm. She sat still as a statue and smiled as the nurse took her temperature.

It was becoming an adventure to her, too.

While waiting for the doctor, Nikki crawled out of bed and explored her surroundings with as much vigor as Katie did.

It was like we had taken them to the park instead of the hospital. They were running, laughing and jumping on the beds. Some chemical in the air mixed with their personalities and created instant maniacs.

I felt like I was at the mechanic because Nikki acted fine. She wouldn't hold anything with her arm, but she'd bend and straighten it.

I groaned silently. You hate to have a doctor rush to the emergency room for nothing. Then again, when it comes to your kids, you'd rather it be nothing than something.

Nikki sat like an angel and watched with interest while the Dr. Roberts examined her. He was patient and caring and talked to her the whole time.

She was intrigued. But when he started to twist her arm, the tears welled to the surface.

I was so proud of her. She didn't jerk away.

She was handling it much better than I was. I wanted to jerk her away.

The pain in her eyes when she looked at me was nearly too much for me to bear.

Then it was over.

Apparently her arm popped right back into place.

Five minutes later, she rejoined the society of loons, running and playing and using her arm like nothing had every happened.

I couldn't believe it was fixed so fast and so easily.

The doctor assured me nursemaid's elbow happened often and that I shouldn't feel guilty. He made me feel better but didn't absolve all the guilt. How could he?

Up until about age five, the ligaments in children's arms aren't fully developed, so lifting them by the arms and swinging them around by the hands is a no-no.

It is also something I've done and seen many, many other parents do.

Well, I learned my lesson the hard way.

Nikki came home wearing a bandage that was optional. She enjoyed the option for about three hours, then enjoyed winding and unwinding it for another hour.

That night, Katie and I went for a walk. I set out to make it a long one -- about a mile and a half to the grocery store and hoped Katie was up for it. The first third of the trip, she begged to go to see the doctor. She liked him and the new surroundings of the hospital.

I'd say "grocery store" and she'd say "doctor."

Then she turned, lifted her arms and said "wanta holdja."

I laughed. "You mean you want me to hold you."

"Wanta holdja" she repeated.

So I lifted her up (by the torso) and shifted her to my back for the uphill climb. When we crested the hill, I asked if she wanted to walk again.

Her answer was a resounding no.

We made the rest of the trip with her on my back.

By the time we arrived, I was starting to think she was going to get her wish and we were heading for our second emergency room visit of the day -- this time for me.

I would have been way more OK with that.

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