Well, we broke her. Or rather, we dislocated her. But it wasn't "we," it was the sweet gymnastics coach who pulled her up off the mat after a crooked tumble, and it wasn't really "her," it was her elbow. Here's what happened:
When I picked her up from gymastics Saturday morning, she was being held by her coach and she was crying. The coach said she had a "boo boo" and that she was missing Mommy. Sounded about right. When I tried to put on her sweatshirt, though, she started crying even harder. I went back into the gym and got a better description of the injury. When I got her calmed down, she could lift her arm up, she could bend it at the elbow, she could squeeze my finger. All good signs. We headed home for ice and Tylenol. When I noticed that she wasn't using her left arm, I suggested that we might need to stay home and rest instead of going to the princess birthday party she was supposed to attend. MAJOR TEARS. A full-on princess hissy fit. Had Frank been home, he would have called it a "jihad." But Frank wasn't home and Mom wasn't sure what to do, so I helped her slip into her trashiest princess dress, some hot pink high-top Converse, and her Halloween costume crown. She still had her crooked pigtails from gymnastics and a tearstained face and her arm hanging limply beneath crushed purple taffeta and pink netting. In a word: pitiful.
We arrived at the party about an hour late, but just in time to eat cake and watch the hired Cinderella tying flower and wand balloons (I kept thinking of you, Aunt La-la, and your life on the birthday party circuit!). Fast-forward to dance party time, and Cinderella surrounded by twelve adorable little princesses, some with flowers in their hair, some with sparkly blue eyeshadow, some with glitter lotion on the skins, some with perfectly hair-sprayed ringlets, none looking quite so thrown together as my little Princess Ragamuffin. Cindy turned on the Hokey-pokey and I watched my little gimpy daughter shuffle and gyrate, but she just could not put her left arm in. Should I take her to the emergency room? Urgent care center? Call up my brother, the former nurse? Before I could decide, a horse-drawn carriage arrived at the party and Sophie's jaw dropped. She took two rides on the carriage before I convinced her it was time to leave.
I finally called Uncle Jeff, who listened to all the details, including the fact that she has had a hurt arm twice before (once when she was a toddler and sat down while I was holding her hand, another time after a friend was swinging her around by the arms). Both times it dangled by her side and healed after a few hours. Jeff decided it was probably muscular, and told me that the ER would charge me $50 and give her acetaminophen. Give it three days, and she'll be back to normal. He also advised that I give her a makeshift sling, which I did, and that seemed to help.
Then I went to the oracle. Google-style. Turns out that kids between the ages of 1 and 3 often get "nursemaid's elbow." (Called that after caregivers who inadvertently yank the arm of an uncooperative child.) If it's happened before, it's likely to happen again. And it occurs more frequently in girls than boys. And more often on the left arm than the right. Guess what?!? She's three, she's a girl, and it was the left arm. The internet tried to teach me how to reduce the injury, but it didn't seem to work. The internet also said that ice, Tylenol, and a few days would do the trick, if the reduction didn't work.
Finally, my rock, my love, my Frank came home. And I showed him my research. He called up our doc, Dr. Geoff, who concurred with the google diagnosis. He gave Frank a few more tips over the phone, and told him that it's a really easy procedure that's hard for parents to do (screaming is involved), but easy for doctors. Then he gave Frank directions to his house. (Did I mention that we're friends with our doctor?) We tried. Twice. Then Frank loaded Sophie up in the car and drove her to the doc. A house call, in reverse. He tried the maneuver once. No dice. He frowned, tried it again, and POP. She was cured. (We'll be billed through the mail, thank you very much.) I would have paid a $500 co-pay to have her fixed yesterday morning.
Tonight we are thankful for sweet gymnastics coaches who cuddle you when you fall, for Cinderellas who distract you from your pain, for cherry-flavored Tylenol, for horse-drawn carriages, for Nurse Jeff, for Dad who tried really hard but didn't want to hurt his little girl, and most especially, Dr. Geoff. He even gave her a sticker when she was done! And thanks to you, too, Google. And you? If you read this whole dang post, you should get a sticker, too.