I’m sorry this is so long, but I’m hoping this will help me stop obsessing about what happened. On Wednesday, when I arrived at the YMCA after-school child care, I was met by my nine year old daughter, who was crying and holding her arm. The director told me that she had just walked into the room and seen Razelle kicking another kid because he had "done something to her." My daughter was really upset, so I took her outside where the other kids wouldn’t be staring at us, and asked her what had happened. She described to me, very graphically, what this boy had done. She was holding a frisbee, and he wanted it, so he came up behind her and yanked her arm behind her back and held it, and then when she went to the ground, he got onto her back. She was convinced he was trying to break her arm. I looked at her arm and it wasn’t swollen or bruised, but she said she couldn’t feel it. I was really scared because her dad had gotten injured the same way once, and couldn’t use or feel his arm for months, because he had a brachial plexus injury. That means that the nerves going though his shoulder to his arm had gotten stretched, and they sort of went into shock. I was worried, but of course, I acted calm. I had her wait in the car while I went inside to talk to the director. She had talked to the other kids while I was outside, and had gotten the story out of them. The boy claimed he had just put her arm behind her back and didn’t really do it hard, but she explained to him that it was painful no matter how hard he did it. She apologized and said she would talk to his mother.
We went home and I gave her some Advil. She said she couldn’t feel her arm or move it. Of course, it had to be her right arm. I was skeptical because she tends to be a drama queen when she’s hurt. She could move her fingers a little, but when she wanted to move her arm, she had to pick it up with her other hand and move it. I could tell it wasn’t broken, and I thought I would see how it was the next morning. Well, it didn’t improve, so we went to the doctor. As the doctor was manipulating her arm while she examined it, she felt a pop. She said she thought a bone in Razelle’s elbow had been dislocated, and had just gone back in. Right away, the arm started to improve. By the time she had been x’rayed (just in case) she was sore, but could move and feel her arm. I was really relieved, but completely drained. I called the child care and told the director what had happened, and she said she would talk to the mother and let her know.
The next day, Razelle was able to use her arm normally, and went to school in a sling. Around 11 am, the school called me at work to say her arm had gone numb again. We went to Kaiser’s surgical walk-in, which is part of the emergency room. I didn’t know what to think. She claimed her arm was completely numb, but it didn’t seem to faze her, and she was able to use it a little. She was examined by a doctor, and then two neurologists. The neurologists tested her strength and stuck her with a pin all over her hands and arms, and decided she had a brachial plexus injury. Her right arm was usable, but had less strength than her left, and she had no sensation in it. They said what I already knew, that it was early in the injury and could take a long time to heal. Her strength would be back to normal within 4-6 weeks, but the sensation would take longer. There was something about the way they said it that made me think there was a chance the sensation wouldn’t fully return. They referred us for a follow-up appointment in the neurology clinic in 2 months. They wrote a note for the school saying no PE for the rest of the school year, and told me she shouldn’t move her arm in a way that might stretch the nerve again. They also said, and this is what really breaks my heart, that because she had no sensation, she could accidently burn or cut her arm without realizing it, and so we should be really careful.
I don’t know what will happen to the boy since I haven’t been back there since Friday morning, and I haven’t yet told the director what the neurologists said. I also don’t know what to think about her arm. She’s using her arm again and seems perfectly normal. I believe that she couldn’t use her arm before the elbow was fixed. I believe she had some numbness Friday, but I wonder if maybe she was exaggerating it. I know she feels she doesn’t get to spend enough time with me, and I have been giving her a lot of attention since the injury. When they tested her with the pin, they didn’t have her close her eyes, so she knew where they were sticking her. On the other hand, I know numbness can come and go, and that sometimes what would really bother an adult doesn’t bother a kid as much. I would prefer thinking she’s unconsciously exaggerating her injury to thinking that maybe she’ll never regain normal sensation in it.