Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Episode of Noelle's Wrist

(I had planned to add the following "event" to those in the bio post on Noelle, but it was too long, so I am giving it a home of its own -- probably it will be easier to find here, anyway.)

Once when I picked up 5-year-old Noelle from all-day kindergarten, she told me she had fallen and broken her wrist. The teacher’s helper, who watched the children after school, confirmed that Noelle had fallen, had said that she had broken wrist, but had continued to walk around in her braces and crutches with no change in gait or obvious pain. I queried Noelle about that. She shook her head, held out her right arm, and with her left index finger pointed to her right wrist, saying “It’s broken right here, Mommy.”

“Yes, that’s what she told me,” confirmed the helper, “but there’s no swelling or any other evidence of a break. She picked herself up from the floor and started swinging across the room as if nothing had happened.”

“But I told you I broke my wrist,” Noelle interjected, “right here.” She pointed to the same spot.

The helper pointed out that if it were broken, Noelle would not be able to bear weight on it as she had all afternoon. Again Noelle interjected, “But it hurts when I swing because my wrist is broken right here.” For the third time, she pointed to the same place.

I told the helper not to worry about it. I would deal with it. We were both pretty certain that Noelle was simply feeling bruised after a tumble.
When I picked up Shane and Doah from their day care provider, Noelle held out her arm to them and said, “Hey guys, look! I broke my wrist right here.”

“Noelle, let’s talk about something else for a while,” I suggested. “Why don’t you tell us what you did at school today.”

“At school today I fell and broke my wrist right here,” Noelle responded. So much for distracting her attention from her newly found fascination with her wrist!
Lizzie was waiting at home when we all got there. Shane and Doah scampered into the house. It took Noelle a little longer to navigate the stairs with her braces and crutches, but as soon as she was on the top stair, she called out, “Lizzie, Lizzie! Guess what happened at school today! I fell and broke my wrist right here.” Lizzie was by that time at the door and able to see where Noelle was pointing.

“Oh, for Heaven’s sake,” I said to Lizzie, “all she has been talking about since I picked her up is her wrist. It can’t be broken, or she would not be able to walk on it.”

Noelle interrupted. “It is broken, right here, and I can walk on it.” There went that pointing again.

“Noelle, it would hurt too much to walk if your wrist were broken. You would be in a lot of pain.”

“I am in a lot of pain,” she responded, “because my wrist is broken right here.”
“If you say that one more time,” I warned her, “we are going to go to the hospital and have it checked out.”

“My wrist is broken right here,” Noelle pointed out. With a smile she put on her coat, assuming that we were going to go to the hospital.

“Okay, everyone in the car,” I called. “We are going to go have Noelle’s wrist checked by a doctor.”

“Because I broke it right here,” Noelle chirped up with more pointing.

Ushering them all into the car, I stopped long enough to call Donnie at work and tell him that we would be in the emergency room for a while, maybe until after he got home. Then off we went.

The emergency room doctor listened to my story, then asked Noelle what happened. She described her fall, then held out her arm, and, pointing, said, “I broke my wrist right here.”

The doctor opined that it was hardly likely that Noelle had a broken wrist since he had seen how nimbly she had maneuvered herself on her braces into his office and onto a chair. “She would be in too much pain to do that if the wrist were broken,” he said.

“That’s what I thought, too,” I said. “But she does have a high tolerance for pain.” Actually, both Noelle and Doah ignore a level of pain on a daily basis that many people would find intolerable. It may be genetic. I have a high pain threshold as well, tolerating root canals and biopsies done the grin-and-bear-it way since I am allergic to painkiller.

After some hemming and hawing, the doctor decided to send Noelle for an x-ray just in case. While I don’t like extra x-rays – Noelle gets far more than her share of them – I was in a way glad that the doctor decided the way he did. At least, it would put the question to bed. If an x-ray were to say the wrist was not broken, it was not broken.

After a lengthy period of time, the x-ray and the doctor came back. He put the x-ray up against a light board and said that he had read it. He took Noelle’s arm, and pointing to her wrist, said with a touch of irony and a touch of surprise, “She broke her wrist right here!”

Who would have thought? Sometimes kids know best! It was good that she was persistent, a trait that she has needed as an adult as well.

Of course, a broken wrist for a paraplegic in braces and crutches is like two broken legs for a non-paraplegic person. No weight-bearing meant no walking. We did not have a wheelchair for Noelle, but the hospital loaned us one. Otherwise, I would have had to carry her home. Sheesh!

She did not get her first wheelchair after her sophomore year in college – so she did a good job of managing those braces and crutches for a very long time in spite of the braces reaching all the way to her chest and, therefore, weighing more than ten pounds. She finally went into the wheelchair when the bracemaker gave up on repairs – she was breaking the braces every few weeks from dancing, ocean wading, and a host of other physical activities not normally expected of someone in braces. It was and is frustrating that braces, which are more liberating than a wheelchair (at least, in Noelle’s mind), cannot be made strong enough to stand up to active adult use.

As for back then, when Donnie came home, Noelle held out her arm with its cast and told him solemnly, pointing, “Daddy, I broke my wrist today right here."


  1. WOW, I guess it's a good lesson for all us Moms! That is unbelievable! Kids do know best!


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