Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Look Mom! No Hands!

When we got home from the emergency room, we realized just how little Joel would be able to do with both arms in a cast. Naturally the first item to take care of when we got home was the now insistent call of nature. Terry had to help him, but it didn't go very well. Suffice it to say that there was a lack of control, probably brought on by the urgency that comes when you hold back the need for much longer than you should have. They ended up with a fire hose effect and a lot of cleanup.
This all happened while I was at McDonald's. When I got home, we realized Joel couldn't eat by himself either. His older brother, Matthew, fed him his cheeseburger and fries, and I made a mental note to pick up some drinking straws when I went to the store next.
Joel was in some pain the next few days, but very good spirits. He tends to take things with a grin. His four brothers were all eager to help him--no one complained about helping him dress or feeding him his food. Terry and I held our breaths. We knew that all this good will couldn't last more than two or three days.
The boys were still willing to help Joel, but they lacked a little of the nurturing nature. I found Joel with shoes that didn't fit him and mismatched socks because whoever helped him was in a hurry. They were also in a hurry at meal times and they ended up trying to shove food in his mouth without giving him time to chew and swallow. Most of this was done with good-natured teasing. The boys slowed down and I made them redo mistakes in Joel's wardrobe. But there was one area that no one wanted to be involved with: personal hygiene. Terry's experience with Joel that first night had made all of them wary of helping him. Several times I found Joel jumping up and down, begging someone to help him go.
In spite of the handicaps, it took Joel only two days to figure out how to still play video games. I think his play time has slowed a little, but I'm amazed at what he's managed to do. He still moves through the house at top speed, and he's managed to trip and fall on the stairs several times. He tried inline skating too, but we put a quick stop to that. Can you say body cast?
After a week in the temporary casts, we went back to the doctor for more x-rays. The doctor was very pleased with what he saw. I didn't understand it, but several of them were examining the x-rays and agreeing that there was a "nice reduction" on the displaced bone. I assumed that was a good thing. They then put his permanent casts on--one green and one orange. Everyone assumes Joel is a Miami fan, but he just happens to like green and orange.
The good news is, the permanent casts are more streamlined and lighter than the temporary ones. Joel looks less like a mummy, and he has better mobility. Also, the temporary cast on his displaced arm went up past the elbow. The permanent cast is shorter than that, and Joel was thrilled to be able to unbend his arm again. The doctor said he wants to take another look in two weeks, and that the casts should be off in six weeks or less. It's still up in the air as to whether or not Joel can feed himself his Thanksgiving dinner.
The bad news is, the growth plate was injured in his right arm. They usually heal, but it means we have to watch closely because his right arm and hand could possibly not develop fully as he grows. That could end up in surgery and complications later on. The doctor said the chances of that were slim, but they want to monitor him just in case. That means x-rays about every six months for a while.
Joel's managing a lot more on his own now that his casts are smaller and lighter. He dresses himself, although he still needs help with buttons, socks and shoes. Matt helps him with bathing so he can keep the casts dry, and it's still hard for him to hold an eating utensil so we end up feeding him anything that's not finger foods. And then there's that personal hygiene thing ... I think the whole family will heave a big sigh of relief when those casts come off!


  1. Bless his heart! Keep me posted on the growth plate situation. If surgery is necessary, it will be very similar to what Zannie had done to her leg.
    On a lighter note, you need to post a picture of Joel playing video games in his current situation!


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