Sunday, June 14, 2015

World's most expensive timeout

I debated posting this for a few weeks now, but if it can help anyone else avoid what we went through, it's worth writing about.

So here's the story. 

A couple of Fridays ago, just before lunch, Sal got lippy with me, and after being warned once, he was sent on timeout. We do our timeouts outside on the back lawn ( sorry neighbors!) so that no walls can be punched/ kicked or have boogers smeared during the meltdown. I grabbed Sal by the forearm and lead him out to the yard. When we hit the concrete, he dropped himself in protest and I reacted by pulling him up by the arm to drag him to his timeout spot which was literally only TWO FEET away.

As I pulled him up to try and get him back on his feet--there was a loud pop. 

And screaming. 

" you hurted meeeeeeee! Mama, why you hurted me?!"

His arm was limp. He wouldn't let me near him to try and figure out where he was hurt. 

And of course, it was noon when I dialed my pediatrician to get advice. How dare they take a lunch!!!!?!

I finally received a callback and was told to bring him in right when they reopened after lunch. 

We went in, and I'll admit, I was sweating bullets. I had worked myself up over that hour and a half wait thinking they'd probably have CPS question me since Sal wouldn't stop saying," mama, why you hurted me. That's not berry nice!" I felt awful, and hearing his pained little voice magnified my regret and sorrow that much more. After all, did I really need to enforce the timeout two feet from where he collapsed?

Thankfully, the pediatrician told me that he sees this type of injury often. 

Phew. I'm still in the running for mother of the year....

He explained that Sal had a nursemaids elbow. He could do a reduction and get it back in place in the office. 

Easier said than done. 

The pediatrician " wasn't sure" if it went back in because he didn't feel it pop. He sent us home with Advil and said he should start using it within a few hours.

A few hours later--still wouldn't use his arm at all and cried if we came near him.

So, Saturday, I called the on call pediatrician to seek advice as to where to take Sal. He suggested the emergency room, as he wasn't sure an urgent care would be well versed on elbow reductions. Off Sal and I went to the ER with hopes of enjoying a root beer afterwards. We saw an ER doc, who ordered X-rays. She also felt it was nursemaid elbow, and attempted a reduction on a now very traumatized little boy. Again, no pop. Again, " I'm not sure it went in. He should be better in a few hours". 

"Come back if it's still hurting tomorrow."


Sal and I headed home ( with a stop for root beer, of course) and to no surprise, he still wasn't using his arm

Sunday morning, I was in tears. I had hurt my child, and taken him in to find relief, and he still wasn't better. I reached out for advice from my former boss. He advised that I go back to the ER and demand an orthopedic evaluation. At this point, Sal's elbow had been out of place for 36 hours. It needed fixing ASAP, by someone competent in this type of injury. I marched myself and Sal back to the ER, paid yet another $100 copay, and was basically laughed at by the on duty ER doc. He said that kids do this all the time, and that there was no need to call an ortho in on the weekend. He said he'd reduce it--to which I gave a hefty, " you're not touching him" and walked out with Sal in tow. 

Thankfully, Sal had charmed the nursing staff the day before, and one of them recognized us and said, " Sal, you're back?!". She came in and talked to me and told me to hold tight. She was able to get the original ER doc that we saw Saturday to come in and see us. She agreed that another attempt by a non orthopedic doctor would be a bad idea. She sweetly called the on all ortho, and tried to get him to come in to help us. Unfortunately, the ortho felt that it'd be best to have us see a pediatric specialist since his elbow had undergone two failed reductions and was probably quite swollen inside. Sal was splinted and assigned a nurse case manager who expedited a next day referral for us to see a pediatric ortho down near LA.

Long story short, we went to LA on Monday and saw the sweetest pediatric specialist. Sal had more X-rays, and she agreed that it was definitely nursemaid elbow and sweet talked Sal into letting her touch his arm. She talked Cars and lightening McQueen with him as she rotated his palm upwards. He cried, but she kept talking to him about Mater, Sally and even Fillmore as she popped that elbow back in place. I didn't hear it thanks to the screaming three year old in my lap, but she did, and Sal told her that she "hurted him and broke his bone", "because it crackted". We had to stay til he demonstrated that he could use it--which was about 30 min and many bribes later. 

By the next day, he ditched his splint and it was like the last 48 hours never happened.

Pretty sure our ER bill will remind us just how expensive that timeout ended up being in a month or so.

Lesson learned. Don't lift your kid by the forearm.



  1. Hope this helps other moms out there as i know i am sure i pulled on an arm or two when you were little.
    This can also happen just pulling a shirt off or on! Or taking both arms and swinging a child around in the air.

  2. I had to learn that lesson the hard way, too. It's very humbling and upsetting. Twice our little girl has ended up with nursemaid's elbow from my husband and I trying to keep her from falling while walking and holding her hand, and twice from her older brother, once when they were playing and once when he was trying to keep her from falling. It's scary, it's mortifying, and our little one's confusion as to why we would hurt them is heartbreaking! It seems like once it happens, it can happen more easily the next time. And it's incredibly difficult to remember not to grab their forearms when they're falling, and / or it's the only way to keep them from possibly being hurt worse. It happens to the best of us.

  3. My mom did this to my brother (obviously by accident). I seriously think about this every single time I pull either kid by the forearm to drag them to their location. It freaks me out and obviously the thought of them being hurt (by me!) and dealing with the doctor visits, etc... agh.

    Glad that's behind you guys. UGH!