Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Other Kind of Broken

It was lunch time and his arm hung limp at his side.

He held it at such an odd angle that he looked like a bird with a broken wing.

He alternated between nervously chewing the collar of his shirt and then the fingertips of his good hand.

Stillness had left him completely. He shifted his weight from foot to foot unable to stop squirming.

He seemed incredibly anxious, terrified maybe, desperate to keep his fear in check.

“Who is this person?” I wondered.

He was not himself, not at all.

The couple at the table behind us stared at him, but because his back was to them he didn’t notice.


“What do you think is wrong with him?” they asked each other in whispers they thought I couldn’t hear.

An old man complimented my girlfriend and lunch companion.

“You’re doing a fine job raising your boys!” he told her without looking at me.

Earlier that morning the doctor had said,

“He’s healed perfectly, beyond my expectations! We’ll take the cast off right now.”

Strange.

I understood what I was supposed to do for this kind of broken...





I'm afraid the other kind of broken is uncharted territory.

What am I supposed to do when the bone is healed, but the kid is not?

97 comments:

Woman Undone said...

AWWWWWWWW, poor baby!!! I know, that's the part of being a parent that just pulls your heart out of your chest. When they hurt, you hurt; especially when you can't fix the hurt.

***********Warm Hugs***********

LadyBugCrossing said...

I'm sure it felt funny after they took the cast off. He'd been carrying all that weight around for a few weeks.. Now, it is not as strong as it was and I'm sure he was afraid something would happen if he wasn't very careful.
I think you just need to assure the little guy that his arm is all better and that it will get stronger every day.
I wonder if they didn't tell him that when he got his cast off. He is probably so afraid that it will re break that he is terrified to move it.

Best of luck.
LBC

Circus Kelli said...

Oh darlin... I wish I could help him and you... it will get better. Maybe once he's used to the cast being off...

((Hugs))

Mrs. Fussy Fussypants said...

Poor Mayor, Poor Jess. My heart goes out to you both.

It must be tough for the little polar bear/boy to adjust to the heavy cast finally being off!

Love & hugs to you both.
-Alli

Mama DB said...

He'll get used to using the arm again. I imagine he is terrified of something further happening to it. Did they prescribe any physical therapy? He just needs to work on getting his confidence back in that arm as well as the physical strength.

Virtual hugs to you guys.

Catizhere said...

I know his fear. After breaking my ankle in Little League (I slid into 2nd base & broke it in 3 places) I STILL take extra care when jumping, running or stepping off curbs with my left foot.
Yes, Little League. I was 10 years old. 32 years later, I still "baby" my left ankle for fear of reinjury.

Stella said...

Poor kid! He's got to be so afraid to use the arm and it's such a difference now without the cast!
How do you take away fear? Sometimes it's impossible, they have to learn it on their own.
Poor little guy!!

Chanda (aka Bea) said...

I don't have kids, so no maternal words of wisdome, but I did break my arm when I was about 4 1/2, and I distinctly remember the day my cast came off. It had been one of those gigantic finger to shoulder casts with a bend at the arm,and I was afraid to unbend my arm because I was sure it would break again. My arm was also a very odd color and looked very frail. I remember both my parents assuring me everything was ok, and being four, I believed them. In no time that thing hanging from my shoulder turned back into "just an arm". I imagine it's tough being on the parental side of that, but I feel fairly certain that with some encouragement, the Mayor will be back to his old self in no time.

Corgimom said...

Keep loving him, reassuring him and moving at his pace--right up until the day he runs off without a thought for the arm and is his old, playful self again.

the end of motherhood said...

He's traumatized, poor baby. He has figured out that the world is an unpredictable place in which very bad things can happen. You have some work to do her. I am going to post on this one, oh ye of many Joys, but the short verison is this: Let him have his feelings. Be a home for them. Let him know that you understand it might be scary for him to go run around and play like he used to but that YOU are not scared of him doing so. and be very patient. Poor little guy.

Shannon said...

That picture took my breath away.

Faerie Mom said...

Oh Mama! Poor you! To see your little ones hurt (physically or emotionally) is the worst. Especially when you can't do anything about it. Just love him. And hug him. He will get that confidence back, slowly but surely!

a. beaverhausen said...

Ohhh! That just makes me sad.

Sober Briquette said...

Wow, children heal (physically) so fast. I'm stunned that the cast is off already

My arm was broken pretty badly when I was seven. I still remember how it felt to get the cast off. We went to the supermarket afterward, and I was pretty freaked out at the feelings in my newly released arm.

I don't think this will last. He'll be himself again, soon soon soon.

(You're doing a (better than) fine job!)

WILLIAM said...

That is quote a break.

jakelliesmom said...

Poor little guy. Is he too young for the movie "Rookie of the Year" in which the young hero breaks his arm then becomes a pitcher for a major league baseball team when the cast is off? I'd try to take him to do everything a rough and tumble kid might want to do to show that he's going to be okay. And I'd ask your pediatrician for some tips on getting him over the injury of his memory and enthusiasm.

Jodi said...

Ohhhhh Poor Mayor. This one left me in tears!

Shirley said...

Just be patient with him. He'll get his confidence back. It's got to feel really strange after carrying that cast around.

Just as he felt off balance with it at first, he probably feels off balance without it now. And a little scared.

Give him a hug from all your blog friends and he'll be better in no time at all.

Jan said...

Probably, by the end of the week, he'll realize everythings back to normal. For adults, they frequently suggest some sort of pysical therapy, do they do that for kids?

furiousBall said...

ouch! that's a good one there. hopefully there's no surgery right? i had pins in a finger and i couldn't imagine a kid having to do that

Gretchen said...

Yikes! That picture says more than any words can.

Though not broken, my daughter suffered a pretty severe burn on her left hand. It was wrapped several different ways for weeks. Every time they'd take off the bandage, the nurses and doctors would tell me it was vital to have her try and use her hand as much as possible, so as to avoid permanent scarring/lack of movement.

For the longest time, she babied her hand, holding it near her heart and using her 'wing' instead. Eventually, she did regain full movement with no scarring.

I don't know where I'm going with this, except to tell you to give him (and yourself) some time.

3carnations said...

Poor little guy. What a scary experience.

Maybe a really special treat? A movie, play, amusement park...Something so special he might forget.

Jennifer said...

Oh, man. He's probably so scared of more hurt. And that hurts a mama in an entirely different way. (((Gentle hugs)))

ephelba said...

This part sucks, huh? We get to be moms not because we know how to do it, but because some little person is depending on us to figure it out.

You'll figure it out.

Jenifer said...

Give it some time. I remember being terrified of using my arm after my break and pins...it actually was so stiff I could not move it much anyway. I went to therapy everyday for about a month to get it moving again and if they hadn't forced me I am sure it would have taken longer.

The Super Bongo said...

That was a fast heal.

any physical therapy suggested?

poor baby.

Beck said...

Yeowch, poor baby boy!
My son once ran into the water and was so shocked that it was cold and wet that he wouldn't sit down in the bathtub for months afterwards - but that phase passed and now you would never know that years ago, he was more than a bit shy of water. Your son might be left more cautious then he was before this happened and you can't undo THAT - all you can do is help him find the confidence in himself and in his body again.

Beck said...

(and after I broke MY arm, it was tender for MONTHS afterwards. He'll probably get more exuberant as it stops hurting.)

Loralee Choate said...

Life can deal some pretty crappy blows to kids.

I hate it every time something bad changes my children.

I suppose I should look at the forest and take it that in the end it means that they are growing up and these lessons are necessary and unavoidable, but I tend to only see the trees in situations like this.

bleck.

LceeL said...

One morning he'll wake up and he'll forget to favor that arm. He'll be fine.

kristen said...

i don't know your boy-o, other than through the glimpses you share here. i think he's processing the whole experience from a sensitive, careful place.
i think it's lovely and the story made my heart ache for the feeling of protection and tenderness,over his little fragile limb. sigh.

DD said...

Did the doctor suggest any kind of rehab? I would try to get him to do something that he ends up using his arm w/o it feeling like it's being emphasized. At our Y, they have family swim night once a week. Maybe just some time in the pool?

I would scoop you both into a hug if I was there.

Marmite Breath said...

You guys are such a great family, I know he'll ease back into being The Mayor very soon.

xoxo

Sugared Harpy said...

My younger son broke his arm at five and acted very much like this after the cast was taken off.

He was kind of excited about showing off the cast and being the super stud of broken arms.

And when it came off, the arm was pale, weak, weird looking and it scared him. He carried it with his other arm, he protected it in a crowd, he acted very quiet and nervous for a few weeks.

ewe are here said...

It may be 'healed', but I can almost guarantee you it still aches on occasion, and he's probably 'worried' about hurting it again, too.

Time, hugs and patience... his arm will get stronger, and so will he.

Nancy said...

Poor Mayor. I'm sure he'll favor it for a bit. Fear it will hurt or fear it will break again.

Maybe by having him selectively using it ..i.e. to eat ice cream cones, holding a new light weight soft stuffed puppy, or hold helium balloons ... he'll regain assurance that his arm healed.

I know this hurts you more than the original break hurt him.

Sending hugs and good thoughts.

Biddy said...

have a special outing and call it the "arm is healed celebration" or something much more clever than that.

maybe take him to get a new toy to commemorate the special occasion or go to a paint your own pottery place.

just something fun that will lift his spirits and keep emphasizing that you're doing this to celebrate his arm being all better.

Queen of Shake-Shake said...

I remember when I broke my arm as an 8 year old. It was a pretty bad break too. When the cast came off, my arm felt oddly vulnerable. It was weak from 6 weeks in a cast too.

I was overly protective of it for a bit, but I eventually began to trust that my arm was fine. I'm sure Mayor will too. It just takes longer to heal the mental scars than the physical ones.

I would keep reassuring Mayor he is ok, that his body knows exactly what it needs to do to make him better. !And wow! Look just HOW well his body does know! He healed so quickly! Go Mayor!

He'll get there.

Mel said...

I honestly don't know. I wish I could offer some advice on this, but I've been lucky (touch wood) and haven't dealt with any breakages.
All I can offer is a hug and all my sympathy for the tough time you're having.

bzybead said...

he probably is having a feeling of the unknown. . . the weight is lifted, but the mental care is still there. gently integrate it back into his life, maybe by lovingly holding his good hand and then asking him to do little movements with the healed arm (hey mayor, what does that bud on the bush feel like?) Looking forward to seeing the wee ones soon!

you & k know how to encourage and nurture, and that is what it will take . . .

Lisa said...

My heart goes out to you and to the Mayor. Children innately believe that they're invincible. When they learn that they're not, it can take some time to get their emotional equilibrium back. Maybe it would help to talk to him about people he knows who have broken bones and are perfectly "normal" again.

My daughter was 17 when she was hit by a car and broke her leg. A four-year-old friend of ours was shocked when my daughter was finally able to walk without crutches. We hadn't thought to tell him that broken bones, unlike broken dishes or broken toys, heal in time. He thought her disability was permanent.

Jen M. said...

Oh - poor sweetheart.

With the parents he has, and with time, he will be okay. You will, too.

Mary Beth said...

I know when I hurt myself, I'm always a little hesitant to use the injured limb at the beginning. He just needs some time to step back from the memory of the pain. Before you know it he'll be using the arm like nothing happened.

QT said...

Oh yeah - he is going to be super tender with that thing for awhile, sister. Hugs to you and to that little one.

Kimmylyn said...

I broke my ankle nine months ago. I still won't wear my old heels because I am afraid of breaking it again.. The mind is a crazy thing and likes to play games.. It takes time.. he is the Mayor!! :)

Magpie said...

Aw - he'll get there, poor busted kid.

mamatulip said...

Oh, that is a terrible break.

I think it'll take time for him. I think he needs patience, understanding and love...and I know he gets that from you every day.

Thinking of you guys.

we_be_toys said...

Patience grasshopper - It had to be incredibly traumatic for him to go through this - breaks hurt! And he's understandably cautious and a little scared about just going out and getting wild right now. Give him about a month or so, and it'll be like it never happened.

Lisa Milton said...

How spooky. And I bet all that medicine didn't help too.

Lexi kept her arm glued to her side for what seemed like weeks after she broke her arm, and she was skittish of the ice rink - she wore a brace for no reason, and she broke her wrist, just running on the playground.

I hope his spirit heals soon, and he bounces back, reassured.

Please take care.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mother of mayor- the arm has lost strenght being in a cast, and he will be verrryyyy careful with it for awhile. he best thing I heard (from a physical therapist who lived down the street) when our son broke his arm in the same place falling out of his loft bed- was to put the kid in the pool. The water will support the arm, and he will get strength and range of motion back much faster- blessings to you all.

BInkytown said...

Oh dear, I don't know but I too was going to say that time will probably help a lot. I realize that doesn't make him or you feel any better in this moment, but kids are more resiliant than we know and as each day passes I'll bet he will be stronger and stronger and more like himself. You guys are taking great care of him. He'll make it through this.

Nancy said...

Oh wow. I was so sorry to hear about the Mayor's accident (although terribly late in coming over to say so) and I'm sad to hear that he's still quite tentative about using his arm. Hopefully time shall heal this wound too.

xo

Frumpy Luv said...

So sorry. As my kids get older I realize it just gets harder. A hug and a kiss used to solve the world's problems. Good luck with this.

jennifer said...

Oh poor Mayor, he really is having a hard time these days. I hope this phase passes quickly for his sake (and yours.)

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah said...

Poor little guy.

Poor Mommy.

Paige said...

All you can do is love him and give him time.

For what little it's worth, I understand. Every couple of months I have to reassure a down-in-the-mouth Avery that her face is not broken and that nothing is wrong with her after one of these surgeries. She starts off self-conscious and guarded of her cheek, but eventually gets back to her old self.

Even so, the self-consciousness, the questions about whether something's wrong with her are enough to break my heart into sharp little shards every single time.

photomommy said...

Poor thing!

I'm sure he'll be back to his old self in no time.

Hugs.

Emily said...

I remember when they took my cast off in 2nd grade. My left arm floated up over my head, the world went dark, my fingers tingled like I had 10,000 acupuncture needles dangling from them, and then I passed out.

I remember beggin my sister to fasten my buttons in the morning, because it was such an odd sensation to use my hand, again.

I'm 30 now, and I button my own shirts (YEAH, EMILY!) That apprehension and odd period reacquaintance with a limb (and with self confidence) is only a season.

I'm sorry the Mayor is feeling so apprehensive.

****And screw the passive agressive lunch goers. They don't get to define good vs. broken.

You are doing an excellent job raising your children.

Craze said...

My son broke his arm when he was in 1st grade. The cast stayed on for 12 weeks. When the Dr. was going to take it off he cried, begged and pleaded for him to leave it on. They did end up taking it off but it sure did take awhile for my son to get used to it.

KathyLikesPink said...

You write so well! Your post brought tears to my eyes.

Reading through the comments, it seems all of us who have had an injury or break have had very similar feelings once the cast is off. Hopefully you can take some comfort from that.

If you can bear one more story - I have a very vivid memory of 3rd grade, my cast was finally off and the next day we had a field trip to a river bank. I tripped over a tree root and I totally freaked - screaming and crying - I remember my words to this day - "I just got my cast off and I'm afraid I broke my arm again!"

They made me go sit in the bus. Once I stopped hyperventilating and calmed down, I was very sorry to be sitting on that bus and watching all the other kids have fun. (I'm 49 now and I *still* remember it so vividly!)

Chantelle said...

Awe, bless his heart. I know it is cliche and has already been said, but I think he just needs time.

Amy said...

What a wonderful expression of parental angst. We spend all their infant lives making it all better and then they get to a point where we can really only do so much. It's tough.

Aliki2006 said...

Poor, poor kid--he probably does feel odd, and not himself, and is worried his arm may never be the same again.

Hugs to both of you--this post was so touching...

Kyla said...

Maybe you can wrap it with an ace bandage for a bit? To wean him from that protection? A bit of a placebo effect.

Rosie said...

Time, a listening ear and lots of hugs. It's heartbreaking being a parent sometimes, but they are stonger than you think, not just physically. Give it time. Sending hugs, this post made me cry too.

Chicky Chicky Baby said...

That's going to take some time and a lot of love. Something tells me you've got it in you.

carrie said...

That x-ray.

Oh, Mayor . . .

Oh, Momma . . .

Day Dreamer said...

Yes, that X-ray! Holy toledo!!

My heart went out for you two before...and now even more so.

I can almost feel it.

He's bound to get better inside, too. He didn't get the name Mayor for nothin'!

But watching them when they are unsure..nervous...it's hard. I know.

Tracey said...

The WORST part of being a mother is not being able to fix the hurt. I know. I've been there. Hang in there!

Emily N said...

Poor kid :-(

Maybe you could tell him all the people he knows that have broken their arms, so he'll feel like he's in a cool clique. (I assume someone in your families or wide network of friends has done this? I have told my 5 yr old about my brother breaking his arm when HE was 5 many times, it never gets boring for him - I hope he doesn't take that as a reason to try it tho)

Little Monkies said...

Ok, this will likely be an unpopular idea, but you might think of taking him in for a little play therapy with a child psychologist. If he's uncomfortable in his skin, he will likely adapt but it might be good for you to meet with someone to see how you can support him through this interim period. He's fragile and likely a little shell shocked (that xray took my breath way, Jess).

I fell down the stairs 2 weeks ago and had my shoulder looked at today. When the doc was moving it around I kept trying to avoid him doing anything. He told me that there are really good studies out about the imprinting that happens when people do things like dislocate shoulders. I think that the same applies to this situation with the Mayor.

I'm with you in spirit, sister. I wish I could put my arms around the both of you.

Above Average Joe said...

With you, Im sure whatever you do will help.

fooped said...

I have no wisdom sistergirl, but I'm sending kisses your way.

Smx!

jen said...

oh babe. poor mayor.

Cathy said...

Poor little guy.

I know from experience (including that embarrassing incident in my self-defense class) that it takes awhile to regain confidence.

I promise, he'll get used to the new freedom and will be back to his sweet, rambunctious self in no time.

(I do not recommend self-defense classes for anyone incapable of doing a forward roll while "fleeing" from a pretend attacker.)

*ahem*

Jenny said...

awww *hugs* i'm sure he'll feel better soon especially since the cast is off. those things are the worst.

Lisa said...

Am sending you and the Mayor a great big hug and an even bigger bowl of the Mayor's favorite ice cream.

Lisa said...

P.S. Broke my arm as a kid. I remember the cast coming off and being scared of how the arm looked so skinny. And feeling very overwhelmed what what I realize today was a feeling of vulnerability. Like the others have said. Just a little bit of time.

True_Floridian Momma said...

first time here via cre8buzz....you have a beautiful way of writing.

Lisa said...

My daughter, 5, recently had a full-leg cast for a month. Someone said it took as long for the leg to get strong again as the cast was on. That turned out to be the case -- it was a month before she was back up to speed with her physical strength. For the first week, she refused to walk on it at all. Mayor probably feels like he can't use it at all.

Psychologically... before she broke her leg she was crazy good at the monkey bars. She wasn't allowed to with the cast and now she won't touch them. But we found a new thing! Now she's a crazy good jump-roper.

It took a while though. Good luck.

karrie said...

Poor sweet Mayor. :(

Jamie said...

Oh Poor, Mayor! Momma, I am feeling for you this morning! Kids are resilient and he'll come along.
Then, broken Momma will heal too.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

Poor little guy. Is he getting physical therapy for his arm? I remember having my arm in a cast and, when it came off, I could barely move my wrist at all. Hugs to you and him.

AnotherMomCreation said...

I recall getting my cast off of my arm, it was casted bent at the elbow so when the cast came off the arm was so light it hurt to move it. The muscle tone was gone and I just couldn't use it. It took a couple weeks but slowly I started using that arm again.

Heather said...

Some wounds may take a little more time to heal than others.

Mimi said...

Oh wow, it looks like a terrible break. I'm sorry the Mayor is not feeling quite himself yet. I'm not sure what to do. But *I* think you're good mommy.

Kevin Charnas said...

Oh Sweetness,... time will heal it...it will. I know that seems trite. but, I believe it to be true. It will pass...and as time moves on, so will the Mayor.

coleman stoves said...

Poor kid! When my elbow was broke and I finally got the cast off, it was impossible to unbend my arm. It had kind of locked into position. I am sure he also is more timid now that he is afraid of getting another broken bone knowing how much it hurts.

Mrs. Schmitty said...

You are a great mommy, he will heal with your love and support. Children are so resilient. Just be yourself and do what comes naturally, he'll be okay.

Rock the Cradle said...

It takes time.

I broke both my arms as a child (luckily not at the same time) and I remember a sense of disconnect with my limbs when the casts finally came off. And as someone else mentioned, a feeling of being a bit overprotective. Kind of makes sense, since you've basically been wearing body armor nonstop for a while. You feel a little vulnerable when that protection is suddenly gone.

Eventually, you get used to not carrying all that weight around.

And you get used to being able to SCRATCH again. Bliss, that.

Hang in there. Both of you.

Kelley said...

I hope he is better now. Sounds like your commentors know what they are talking about.

But it doesn't stop the pain as a mother.

No smart arsed comments from me today. Just sending you a virtual hug and a glass of wine.

PG said...

it really sucks, it took several months for my 9 year old to get back near full speed. He busted his left arm last May, missed the rest of Little League season. I will be interested to see if there are any lasting mental hurdles for him going all out a full year later.

Ruth Dynamite said...

Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow

Jessica @ A Bushel and a Peck said...

My son had a minor break that had to be casted for 2 weeks when he was about 13 months old. He had only been walking for about 6 weeks when it happened. When they took the cast off, he still wouldn't/couldn't walk on it properly for almost a month--twice as long as the cast was actually on his leg! I'm SURE it will just take time to adjust to the new sensations and the ability to actually move without pain. Good luck to you both!

jeanie said...

My daughter insisted on the sling for weeks after - mainly to hold the grimy sticky (although fairly un by the end) bandages in place over the wound after her operation.

In fact, by the end I was willing to call in Child Protection to get the darned thing off her arm.

It feels weird and vulnerable and scary - oh, and its probably a bit like that for the child too!

Time is the most important commodity - takes a lot of angst before you accept it is the main healer in this instance.

Lotta said...

I think that getting seriously hurt at the Mayor's age feels like such a betrayal. You were supposed to be safe, and strong. WTF?

I think the best thing you can do is listen to his feelings and try to help him feel safe again. And time, that helps too.

I know Mack is healing far slower than Gracie after his tonsil surgery. He'll still randomly say, "Isn't it funny they can cut you open and you don't die?" and laugh nervously.

Such a heartbreak of parenthood that we can't take away our children's heavy thought and burdens eh?

Jo Beaufoix said...

That must have been so hard to see. I'm sure he will get his confidence back steadily and in the mean time, lots of hugs and cuddles will help.