Short version: Our son Callan fell and broke his arm, Monday night. Pompiers, hospital, operation, tension.
You may have seen the video of Callan doing wall flips. He's very keen on gymnastics and free running and parcour. He's a fan of David Belle and he often practices his moves on the steps and walls of the village.
It was abut 6:30 in the evening, I was on the computer when I heard the strange, loud shouting from outside. I leapt up and opened the door, there was Callan holding his arm, face as white as a sheet.
"I don't believe it!" he shouted, "I've broken my arm, I don't believe it. Is this a dream?"
His forarm was bent down and hanging and looked wrong. It just looked WRONG.
Fiona sat him on her lap in the kitchen and held him still. He was moaning and saying "ow, ow", but not crying. I asked Fi if we should take him direct to the hospital ourselves or call the pompiers. She wanted to call the pompiers, because she didn't think it would be a good idea to drive the 40 minutes to the hospital trying not to bounce his arm around in the car.
I dialled 18 and the phone was answered immediately. I told them what had happened and where we were. They sent the ambulance out immediately and then transfered me to SAMU. The SAMU guy asked for more detail - how high had the fall been, did he hit his head, had he always been conscious, was there an open wound?
What he'd done, the silly bugger, was a vault over a rail, on top of a wall. It was a vault he'd done often before, but this time his foot caught the rail, he fell the three feet onto the wall, which broke his arm, and then a further four feet to the ground. He then had to walk the 50 yards back to the house, holding his floppy arm.
Sitting on Fi's lap, waiting for the ambulance, I told Callan he was going to have to be brave. I told him he was going to have to show true courage, the kind where you know that pain and bad times are ahead and you have to just take it. I told him the ambulance ride was going to be uncomfortable, and it was going to hurt when they immobilise his arm and get him into the ambulance.
I phoned a neighbour to take care of Briony while we went to the hospital. Alexandra and Didier Quichaud have three little boys and they are the best of people. They kept Briony overnight, and the next morning I picked her up and got her sorted out for school. Briony was an angel, and took all this mayhem without any fuss.
The pompiers arrived in about ten minutes, sirens on the go. Four of them, plus Fi and me made for a crowded kitchen. They put an inflatable sling around his arm with an ice pack. Once they had him in the ambulance, they were messing about with oxygen levels and pulse meters, so I left Fiona to go with them in the ambulance while I went ahead to the hospital.
It worked well, because I got the Emergency guys to fill out all the info on computer before they arrived. They took him straight in and slapped in a drip with paracetemol and saline. Being the evening there was no chance of getting it reset until the next day. They x-rayed and the pictures showed both radius and ulna broken, in a splintery sort of long break, and the two bones were displaced and overlapping a bit. I thought to myself that it would be tricky resetting it.
This whole time the little soul hadn't shed a tear. He was writhing when the pain surged, or when he had to be moved and gritting his teeth, but he took it better than I would have. If it had been me the air would have been blue.
The nurses put his arm in plaster to stop it moving during the night. He was put in a room in the pediatric wing and Fiona stayed with him overnight. They have fold out beds for the accompanying parent in the room. Fiona had a rough night, as Callan slept fitfully, and each time either of them got to sleep it seemed the nurses had to come in to change drips or take temperatures or something. I slept badly too, and couldn't get the image of his arm all bent out of shape out of my head.
He went in to have the arm reset under anaesthetic at 11:00 am. They said he'd be back after an hour. It was over three hours before he returned. The break was comlicated and they had to put two metal rods, INSIDE each bone, the full length of the forearm. Post-op x-rays show that he'll be setting off metal detectors for a while. I told him he was like Wolverine from X-men.
He then had a crap day, in pain as the anaesthetic wore off, but slowly improving as the immobilised arm settled down. The nurses kept him topped up with paracetemol and anti-inflamatories.
He had to stay another night and I took over from Fi so she could go home and sleep. The next day (that's today) another x-ray to check that nothing had shifted during the night. The surgeon said the metal bars will stay for six months and then another operation to take them out. He came home at 6:00 this evening and is a lot better for being at home and having the drip removed from his arm. How crap must it be to try and sleep, in pain, with one arm broken and immobilised and the other arm trailing plastic pipe that gets tangled on the bed ironware every time you move?
So, there it is. Could have been worse. Much gratitude to friend and neighbours, people who step up in a crisis - Alexandra and Didier for looking after Briony, and to our friend Bernadette Helou who brought them home from the hospital, pompiers, nurses, doctors, and surgeons, cleaners and cooks, Carte Vitale and mutuelle.