When Maxfield broke his femur Lauren and I drove him to the local ER. They x-rayed his leg and confirmed the fracture but were unable to treat him due to their lack of a Pediatric Orthopedic Specialist. They sent us to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, CHOP for short.
CHOP had to do their own evaluation and run their own tests on Max's leg. The pushing and prodding and twisting of his leg to get the x-rays was extremely painful for Max. Now he had to go through it twice. While being pushed and prodded in CHOP's triage area Maxfield started screaming at the top of his lung's "This is the worst hospital I have ever been to." Which was very funny because, well, you know, he has only been to two.
Someone must have heard him screaming (every body on the floor heard him) and they sent in a specialist. This specialist entered the room, evaluated the situation, and quickly began working on calming Max down. She talked directly to Max and started teaching him breathing techniques to help ease the pain.
"Take deep breath, hold it for a couple of seconds and then push all the pain away when you exhale. Blow the pain away." She said over and over again demonstrating with long audible exhales. She made sure that Lauren and I were watching her so we could help Max manage his pain when she had to leave. This specialist was not a doctor or a nurse, nor do I think this person had any kind of medical degree. She was a volunteer. She was incredible.
Later that night when Max would wake up every five minutes, with severe muscle spasms and intense amounts of pain, I would start coaching him to blow the pain away. The spasms would last for a couple of minutes and Max would, between tears and sobs, huff and puff his way through them. I would end the final moments of the spasm by whispering in his ear, "Push the pain out with your breath. Whoooooooow. Push the pain out with your breath. Whoooooooow. Push the pain out with your breath. Whoooooooow." Max would drift off to sleep for another five minutes before another spasm would hit and we would start all over.
For the two weeks following our hospital stay, at least once a night, I would have to coach Max to blow out his pain. I know we were sent to CHOP to make sure that Max would see a Pediatric Orthopedic, but I am glad we were sent to CHOP so Max and I could see the volunteer.
The cast came off at the end of June and Max is doing really well. The doctor said he is healing exactly as he should be but he won't be back to normal for another 6 or so months. The muscles surrounding his thigh are still somewhat atrophied but are slowly returning to normal. As a result of the fracture Max's right leg is a centimeter or two shorter than his left leg. This causes a very awkward gate and limp when he walks.
A few nights ago I was watching Max play with some kids at the park. The kids were running in a pack from one end of the field to another, using soccer nets as their start and finish lines. Max could not keep up the pace. He was always about 15 yards behind the group. At one point the group stopped at a soccer net and Max kept running. He ran right past them. The other kids started sprinting to catch up to Max. Just as they were on his heels, Max's leg gave out and he went sprawling into the grass. The other kids kept running. Max lay still for a few moments but he then slowly stood up, brushed himself off and hobbled to the other soccer goal.
I watched it all from a distance and my heart was breaking for Maxfield. I found myself welling up and whispering under my breath to myself, "Push the pain out with your breath."
Here is a great link for parents. Save it in your favorites. It has tips and information about dealing with trauma After the Injury.