Monday, October 20, 2014

Does Our Insurance Cover This? Injury Report- part 1

I recently posted the epic description of Monkey's sixth birthday party and the party-ending injury she sustained at the end of it. As you might imagine, the top of a fourteen-year-old boy's skull is very thick, and when connecting via gravity with a six-year-old's face, bad things happen.

Luckily, she was not seriously hurt.

Ice and ibuprofen worked wonders to keep things down initially. The morning after the party, she didn't even look bruised. We thought we were in the clear.

HA HA HA

To be sure her eye was OK, we got her into an eye doctor on Sunday afternoon. She was due to have her kindergarten eye exam anyway, so it just made sense. I explained to the doctor what had happened.

Her vision was fine and he spent a bit of time checking her eye's reactions. Nothing looked to be too badly damaged. He remarked on the bruising and advised us to keep up with the ice. He also said the worst of the swelling should be done, since we were approaching the 24-hour mark from the injury. After the first 24 hours, it should be all recovery. It would turn funky colors, and then we should be good.


HA HA HA

I took that to mean, "Don't expect her face to blow up like a giant purple-green balloon, because if that hadn't happened yet, it won't!" Riiiiiiiight.

That afternoon, she took a nap on the couch.


When she woke up, the swelling was so severe you could not see any definition from her cheekbone to her nose. She was complaining the corner of her eye was itching. The swelling in the crease of her tear duct had sort of blocked it. It was deep purple, almost black, and the tear duct itself was red.


MDD and I had some worried conversations out of earshot. I was afraid the doctor had missed a potential break in her eye socket or one of the bones in her face. Why on earth would it swell so badly right after the 24-hour mark, when he SAID it wouldn't do that???

We debated how to respond. Neither of us wanted to scare her and she was clearly not in the mood for it to be poked. Taking her to the ER would mean a long, drawn-out night and a lot of waiting. But...were we missing something?


We agreed to call the pediatrician's office after-hours number. The doc on call got back to us shortly and I explained what had happened. She was relieved we'd had the eye checked out, because their main concern with that type of injury is damage to the eye itself. With that ruled out, there was no need to haul off to the ER for a long, needless evening. She recommended we call the office in the morning and see her regular pediatrician.


MDD and I had a restless night, checking on her and trying to keep her head elevated as she slept. She was fitful and sore and not in the mood for shenanigans.


Since the office didn't open until 9:00 and school starts at 8:40, we decided to let her go to school. We both took off from work. There was no telling what the doc was going to want done, and neither of us had slept much. So, we brought her to school and tried to shield her from the constant remarks of, "WOW! What happened to your EYE??" At least while we waited in the line to go inside.


We sent a note to the teacher explaining the injury and that we'd be picking her up at some time to go to the doctor. Then we went home and called his office. The doc couldn't see her until 1:15, so we crashed to try for some catch-up sleep.


I totally love Monkey's pediatrician, even though his office is really far from where we now live. I know we're probably better off finding someone closer to the new house... but he's awesome. He's taken care of her since the day she was born (well, once she was released from the special-needs NICU doc, at least).

Plus, he looks an awful lot like the lead singer of Live. Remember that band? Mid-90's alt rock...anyway... He is a really cool guy. And his cell phone ringtone is the minions from Despicable Me talking/singing, so Monkey is convinced he's friends with them. That ups the coolness factor, too. 


We picked her up from school and got to the ped's office, half an hour away. Our normally outgoing, talkative girl was very reserved. I think a lot of kids were staring at her swollen face. There is only so much you can do to say "it's not that bad" when in fact, it kind of IS. And she and you both know it, so why bother with the fake stuff, right?


A thorough exam did not bring up any further concerns. He was glad the eye doc got a look at her eye function and that it all looked good. He didn't THINK there was a break, but at nearly 48 hours past the injury time, it was going to be impossible to really tell without an x-ray. He didn't feel she needed one, because her nose was clear and the septum did not appear deviated.

He advised us to keep her out of gym for at least 10 days. I asked why that long, and was reminded the last thing we needed was her catching a ball or elbow or ANYTHING else to the face, with the amount of swelling/bruising she already had going on. Point taken.


In celebration (and recognition that MDD and I hadn't eaten), we hit up Steak N Shake after we were done at the doc's office. If you have never been there, you are missing out on possibly the best milkshakes ever made. For real.  They are AMAZING.


In my normal-paranoia state, I was kinda scared about the injury for other reasons. In our present times, the news seems to be rife with articles about kids being injured by those who care for them. For some reason I was absolutely convinced we'd be explaining the injury to those nice folks at DCFS. (Department of Children and Family Services, for those who don't know the acronym.)

I don't know why. I just figured we would have to deal with them. My penchant for melodrama rides again, I guess. My fears were unfounded and for that I am grateful.


So, back to school goes Monkey on Tuesday with her big swollen face and a note saying no gym for 10 days. We soon discovered that at her school, "no gym" also means "no recess" and that is kinda harsh. She's six...she needs to move around...but at recess the only thing she got to do was play on the iPad with a bunch of other kids who also can't take gym class.


Wednesday was class pictures. Yay. I had talked with a friend who is very gifted at makeup about how to approach this purple thing on my girl's face. She gave me some great tips and even with my limited skills, I was able to make a bit of a difference for picture day.

MDD was still pretty set on waiting for retake day, but I had hopes.


Thursday was her actual birthday. She didn't get off to a good start; very mopey and clingy and wanted to stay home from school. We dressed her up all cute but she just wasn't really into anything in the morning. Upon gentle prodding, she finally told us she felt sad because this new school doesn't make a big deal out of your birthday, the way her preschool had. They sing "happy birthday" and you get a pencil and a sticker, and that's it. You're not allowed to bring treats-- not even non-food treats-- and "it's just like any other day, except for those few minutes when they sing."

She has a point, IMHO. I felt sad for her, too.

I managed to wrangle a couple hours off and texted our babysitter that I would pick Monkey up myself that day. I stopped at the grocery store on the way to get a giant Olaf balloon.


She saw Olaf before she saw me, and a flash of something dark in her face gave way to joy. Not for Mommy, of course, but OLAF! BECAUSE OLAF!!

I told her I was there to take her out for her special day. We went to a local indoor amusement park kind of place where I spent far too much money on bowling, arcade games, and rides. And no, Mommy does not do the Tilt-a-Whirl, even on your birthday. I'm pretty sure no one wants me barfing on you. Least of all, ME, as I would have to clean all that up. Uh-uh. 

We met up with MDDaddy at Monkey's second favorite restaurant, a large Italian chain where they serve breadsticks and are known to sing for people's birthdays. Her first favorite restaurant is a buffet, but they don't sing so they were O-U-T of the running for her birthday dinner. We have priorities.

Our service kinda stunk, but improved greatly once I was able to corner the waitress and point out the "birthday princess" sash on Monkey's chair. The poor server was tired and had too many table seated at once, but she went out of her way to be more attentive to us after that. She brought out dessert and sang (quietly). Crisis averted.

We got home, opened gifts and called the grandparents. She was pretty tuckered out, though, so it was off to bed soon afterward.


The next night (Friday), we headed to our church's family retreat camp. This was the first year we were able to go, since it always falls on the weekend between the two girls' birthdays. One of their parties is almost always on that Saturday. We actually moved Monkey's party earlier to enable us to go, since so many kids from her kindergarten and Sunday school classes would have been on the camp retreat and unable to attend if we had it on that Saturday anyway.

--More on family camp, separately.



Monday night, after Monkey's shower, I was drying her hair and saw something...dark... on her head. Having just come from a weekend in a camp-like setting (complete with a nature walk), my first thought was, "OH NO-- tick!"  But it was BIG. And kind of hard to locate, since she is blessed with a good head of hair.

I finally grabbed a few barrettes and bobby pins and was able to move the hair away from this weird spot I'd seen. It was no tick.

MDD and I are probably two of the palest people on earth. When I was pregnant, we half-joked that Monkey might come out translucent-skinned, like those anatomy dolls with all the veins showing. She's not far off from that.

With the combo of pale skin, both of us parents having freckles and moles, and both her grandfathers having dealt with melanoma, we've been pretty good with sunscreen. Most of the time. Maybe not as good as we should be. She's had a few dot-moles we've watched and monitored, and we watch for new ones.

This was NEW. And big-- the size of my thumbnail. And weird-colored. And located just to the right of the usual place we part her hair for her formerly-standard pigtails for preschool.


I had MDD take a look at it. He didn't seem too concerned, since she has had other moles. However, I felt funny about it being so big and so new. There's no way it had been there in the summer or at her last doctor's visit.


I called the pediatrician's office at 9:01 the next morning and explained what we'd found. We weren't sure if he'd want to look at it himself or refer us to a dermatologist. An appointment was set for the next day with the regular ped.


Monkey and I met with him and our favorite nurse in the "procedure room" of the office. There were many scary-looking metal...things...on that tray. I tried to distract Monkey as best I could. She was told to lie face down on the exam bed and we turned her head to get the best light on the "finding."

Doc didn't like the looks of it, either. It was coming off. Period.

The doc explained patiently what he was going to do and they brought the tray of scary things around the other side of the table, away from Monkey's sight line. The first step was the shot.

INTO HER SCALP.

I was supposed to hold her hand and keep her still... while they stuck a giant needle in my baby's HEAD.

And then pushed in a bunch of BURNING stuff to numb it. It burned, and stung, and she cried horribly and I tried to hold her hand and wipe her snot and KEEP HER FROM MOVING while the big NEEDLE was in her HEAD.

Hyperventilating a little just typing that...reliving it. Not easy to do, especially while trying to look calm myself. It hurt and she was scared and in pain and I couldn't stop it. 

The doc placed a paper surgical tent over her head, with a cut-out area for where he was working. I was told to stay to one side. Noooooo problem. Did not want to be any closer, thanks.

He only had to cut a little bit of hair away to get to the skin, which was good. Monkey was still freaking out because the shot hurt and she was afraid it was ALL going to hurt. She asked what the paper thing was on her head.

The male nurse, my favorite of the doc's staff, told her it was a tent. She was confused by that.

I told her, "See! Look, now the rest of you might not have gone camping, but your head is!"

God bless that nurse, because he took one look at me, nodded, and ran with it. He started talking about camping and all the things you could do, and learning about nature, etc. Monkey's breathing stilled a bit from her frantic pace.

Mine would have too, if I hadn't looked over to see the ped cutting a slice of my child's head off.
Gulp. That will teach ME to look above the tent. I should have listened better!!


The offending slice was dropped in a specimen jar. It made a gross plopping sound of something way too big to be on my baby's head, thank you very much. Then came the stitching.

I watched them put more needles (this time, with thread) into my child's head. I held her still and kept talking about camping. And nature. And whatever I could to keep her calm and still.

She did not even want Steak N Shake. She just wanted to LEAVE.

All stitched up, we had to wait while she sat upright for a few minutes. They wanted to be sure she wasn't bleeding or going to react to the numbing shot. We also had to wait for the paperwork from the doctor.

He once again banned her from gym. This time for TWO WEEKS. I had a whole page of instructions about keeping her incision clean and what to watch out for and/or call the office about in the next few days. She was supposed to take it "super easy" through the weekend at least.


We went home. She decided we could still go to our church's weekly dinner. She was afraid people would make fun of her stitches or be freaked out by them. Luckily, we ran into our regular babysitter coming out of church as we went inside. She couldn't even see the stitches without looking super-closely. I was beyond grateful that she said that-- and so did her kids. Monkey visibly relaxed.

A quick calendar tally sadly informed us that our kindergartener had been OUT of gym more days than she actually ATTENDED gym at this point of the school year. That is sad.


We were also pretty concerned about the concept of her being unable to run around and move a bit during the school day. It had already made her antsy the first time, and I didn't want to see her get in trouble for fidgeting when she didn't have that physical outlet, again.


MDD and I debated. His original concern about gymnastics was we're paying for classes she isn't attending. My concern was the more time she spent away from the gym (and not moving around much all day at school), the more injury-prone she might be when she did get back to gymnastics.

We decided it would probably be OK to have her go to her gymnastics class that Saturday. I would speak to the coaches and also remind Monkey that she had to be careful. No somersaults or anything that would press her head against anything, and any movement which made her head feel even a little icky was to stop immediately.


...to be continued...


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