Our First Major Fracture

We’ve known all along that FangFang’s osteogenesis imperfecta would mean that she’d be highly susceptible to bone fractures, and we were a bit relieved when, in January, we experienced what we believe was her first fracture since coming home. We made it through that and breathed a sigh of relief! It was relatively mild, though – we weren’t even sure anything was going on until the morning after it happened. And honestly, it made this OI mama gig seem pretty easy!

But this week we had our first real, major fracture. FangFang’s newest skill, of which she is immensely proud, is that she can go up and down the stairs by herself. She sits on her bottom and scoots herself up or down one stair at a time, and while I wouldn’t let her do it totally unsupervised, she’s been pretty consistently safe.

We invited some friends to come over for a low-key hangout to celebrate the 4th of July, and while they were here, FangFang was going from me (upstairs) to Matt (downstairs in the studio), and as she was scooting from one step to the next, I heard a crack, and then she started crying very loudly. FangFang has a flair for the dramatic, so it wasn’t as much the intensity of her cry that alerted me to the fact that this was something serious, but rather its persistence and her self-splinting of her leg (positioning her other foot underneath it) to protect it. I scooped her up right away and carried her upstairs and offered a bit of comfort and had Matt go get our break box from upstairs.

We gave her the heavy duty pain meds that we keep on hand for these exact situations and splinted her leg. Nothing looked displaced, and the 4th of July is probably one of the dates on which I would least like to go to the Emergency Room – I am pretty uninterested in spending the evening competing for medical care with people who have experienced fireworks accidents, and I’d rather we not be the guinea pig for the new residents. We opted to medicate and splint at home, knowing we’d call the orthopedic surgeon in the morning to try to get some x-rays to make sure additional treatment wasn’t warranted. There was quite a bit of crying, but we got her splinted and calmed down and set up watching tv.

Then it wasn’t long before, thanks to the intense meds, she slept for a couple hours before waking up in pain again. I felt so bad for her – at that point, I really could only give her Tylenol and Ibuprofen, nothing more yet, and she was clearly in a lot of pain. I texted and then even called another OI mama and asked her what I should do. She said this really just is how it goes with this sort of fracture, that there wouldn’t be much more they could do at the ER, and we needed to stay on top of pain meds and just do all we could to keep her distracted. She was a lot happier once we gave her an iPad she could control herself (she likes to switch videos every 7 seconds or so!) instead of just putting one show on the tv. We were so thankful that something helped!

Thanks to her nap, she stayed up fairly late that night, and thanks to the intense pain meds, she was a little loopy, chatting with Matt and me about all sorts of topics!

We brought down a travel cot for her, so she’d be a little more comfortable without us having to carry her all the way up the stairs and jostle her getting her into and out of her crib, and I slept on the living room couch next to her, so I could be nearby if she needed me and could also stay on top of pain meds during the night.

She spent most of the next morning with my iPad. With a good pain med schedule, no movement, and an iPad, she was reasonably comfortable, but without any of those things, she was in quite a bit of pain. That meant that going to the ortho for x-rays that morning was pretty agonizing for her. I put her in her stroller once we arrived to minimize the amount of moving of her leg I’d need to be doing, but we still needed to move her to get x-rays and then to re-splint.

The x-rays confirmed what I’d suspected, a significant tibia fracture. They also showed what I’d hoped for, though, that there was no displacement and no treatment needed beyond splinting.

The nurse practitioner started removing the splint I’d put on before I realized what was happening – I haven’t quite mastered the OI mom skill of (1) comforting your hurting, crying child while (2) talking to medical professionals and (3) monitoring all medical professionals in the room to make sure they’re not doing anything you don’t want them to do. Truthfully, it wasn’t the greatest splint, and I knew it wasn’t great, but we’d been trying to get it on and stable while FangFang was in a huge amount of pain, so I was satisfied that it met the basic criterion of immobilizing the joints above and below, and I figured I’d re-splint with a better one in a few days once the pain went down. But once it was already off, I agreed that we might as well put on a better one. I was nervous about not doing it totally myself – we’ve heard some horror stories about medical professionals not understanding how to work with kids with OI bone – but I was actually very impressed with the guy who does the casting and splinting at our orthopedic surgeon’s office. He and I worked together to put on a new splint with minimal trauma to FangFang, though she still hated it, but now we’re all set for a few weeks.

For FangFang, Wednesday was really a day comprised almost entirely of lying on her little cot and watching videos on my iPad.

That prompted some jealousy, and some older siblings may have confessed to stomping their feet on the floor as hard as possible in attempts to break their own legs and get extra tv time. Technology envy is alive and well at our house 🙂

Thankfully – for everyone’s sake! – FangFang was feeling much better by yesterday. She got off her cot and started scooting herself around again, she played with siblings, we were able to wean down to just Tylenol and Ibuprofen, and she was so much more herself.

I’m still pretty bummed about the fracture – sad for FangFang that it had to happen at all and sad about the timing of it. Though it was nice at times to have some extra adults around, there are many ways in which it’s not ideal to fracture your leg in the midst of a party at your house! And my big girls were bummed to miss out on going to fireworks on the 4th. It’s also the beginning of July – basically the middle of summer around here – and I so love getting to take everyone to the pool, and while technically I could let her get her splint wet and then just re-splint with a new one afterwards, we won’t want to take this one off for at least a week and a half, so she – and we – will miss out on some pool time. But ultimately I’m thankful she’s doing so well now, and I’m thankful it wasn’t any worse than it is!