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D broke his arm (or, finding a doctor, part 1)

September 14, 2011

Little D, our toddler son, fell off the bed yesterday. He held his wrist right after that and was crabby yesterday evening. We gave him some Tylenol, tried to ice it, and kept an eye on his wrist yesterday evening, but he seemed to have full movement and was using it fine. It was hard to tell what crabbiness was his arm, and what might be because we’re in a new place and he’s had an irregular sleep schedule the past few days.

This morning he was still fussy. He usually falls several times a day–stumbling over a book, running into a piece of furniture–and gets right back up to play.  After one of those falls today, he cried awhile and held his wrist. As I do whenever I have a medical question, I called my mom, who’s a nurse. She said those are classic signs of a kid having a broken arm.

Obvious next step: call the family doctor we went to when we lived in Peoria for three years, and see if they can see Little D. The conversation:
“Hi, I’m a former patient of Dr. L. We’re back in town now. Does he see toddlers?”
“Yes, he does. Has your child seen Dr. L. before?”
“No. We just moved back here.”
“I’m sorry. Dr. L. won’t give advice on patients he hasn’t seen before. You’d need to make an initial appointment first. And we need to have your son’s medical records in our office before we could make the initial visit appointment. You could take him to Prompt Care.”

So I can’t bring my son to my family doctor and say, “He fell, and his arm hurts. Can you take an x-ray and tell if it’s broken?” One of the topics in the national conversation about rising healthcare costs has been that people unnecessarily go to ER and Prompt Care or Urgent Care clinics instead of seeing family doctors. I’m trying to see my family doctor, but they don’t want to see me. Instead, they tell me to go to Prompt Care, who has no established relationship with D, me, or nearly anyone they see.

Well, no time to waste. Off to Prompt Care the three of us went. We saw a friendly nurse and doctor after only waiting a few minutes, and we described the fall to them. I sheepishly admitted that I’d let D play on the bed, as I often do, and had stepped out of the room right before he fell, so I hadn’t seen how he landed. I thought we’d get child-abuse screening questions after that, but the doctor has evidently seen these injuries before and was unfazed by the lack of supervision I’d given my toddler.

Little D handled the appointment pretty well, though John had to be creative and talk about mouths, noses, and beards to keep him still on the exam table for x-rays.

The verdict: Little D has a broken arm. It’s a “green-stick” or “buckle” fracture, which means it’s broken but the bones aren’t out of place. Since D had been using his arm so well, the doctor was surprised how big the break was and said, “He’s a tough little guy.” The nurses put a splint on it. After we left Prompt Care, he pointed at flowers, the airplane, buses, and the U.S. flag and was pretty distracted from the bulky thing on his arm.

Now he’s taking a nap. We’ll see how he manages, but he seemed cheerier after the splint immobilized his arm. The doctor said that once he gets used to the splint, he should be fine, because he can’t move his arm so it doesn’t hurt. We’re supposed to go to an orthopedic doctor soon, who will put a cast on it. He might need a splint or cast for 6 weeks. The first orthopedic office that Prompt Care referred us to doesn’t take our insurance. Now John’s been looking at our insurance’s website to try to find an office that does. That might lead to “finding a doctor (part 2).”

What a little trooper.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. patty permalink
    September 14, 2011 8:40 pm

    Enjoy parenthood Havengas … and all the hoops you have to go through to get medical care these days! It won’t get any better with national healthcare!

  2. Andi permalink
    September 14, 2011 9:58 pm

    The issue with rising healthcare costs is more about people who go to ERs for chronic health problems. Or those who don’t have access to health care and therefore have to go to the ER, as that is the only place they won’t be turned away. Your use of an urgent care in this situation was totally appropriate. Also, going to an urgent care instead of an ER was a wise move; ERs are the most expensive place to receive care.

    • September 14, 2011 10:50 pm

      hi Andi!
      True, the one-time visits for urgent situations aren’t the problem. I just found it ironic that I was trying to not go to urgent care but had to anyway. Looking back, I can better see the urgent-ness of the injury.

  3. September 14, 2011 11:02 pm

    aw! glad he is okay!!

  4. EliseH. permalink
    September 14, 2011 11:08 pm

    Poor D! And poor Mommy and Daddy. So hard to see our little ones hurt! Praying for a speedy recovery and that you find a doctor:)

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