A toddler in a spica cast:
Recovering from a broken femur
It’s hard to imagine by looking at our son now that he broke his left femur just over 9 weeks ago. He’s back to being an uncontrollable ball of energy, running, dancing and jumping at any chance he can get. The only give away is when he’s tired and he starts to limp ever so slightly.
Our son had his cast on for 4 weeks. Apparently little folk have a magical quality to them though, and their bones tend to heal quickly. The consultant said new bone growth has a ‘sticky porridge’ consistency to it but our son should be walking within a few days, and if not within a week we should go back to the hospital.
The first week felt like an age. Our sons leg was still sore, he kept it in the same position it was in when he had the cast on. It hurt to touch it. He was scared he didn’t have his ‘armour’ on. We kept reassuring him that he wouldn’t have had it taken off, if his leg wasn’t on the mend. It was a very tough, fraught week, to see him battle with those feelings and as each day pass wonder whether he would take that step.
It was on the Wednesday, 6 days after cast removal, while we were at a parent/toddler group that he decided enough was enough. He wanted to go outside, and join in the fun where some of his friends were playing on their bikes. So, hand in hand we walked together outside. It reminded me of when he was just learning to walk. His hands held up, me walking behind him and holding on to them, guiding him, gently encouraging him as he took his first wobbly steps. As he enjoyed the sunshine, I couldn’t stop smiling. I don’t think he realised the enormity of what he’d just done, but I was giddy!
Distraction it seems, is the best medicine. The following day, I took him to the park thinking that he could at least go on the swings, pirate ship, play in the sand, all the things he’s missed for so long. He enjoyed it, but it wasn’t the same. He wanted to go up the climbing walls and move about freely without having to hold on to something or someone. So, when we got home he got his little zimmer frame out and didn’t stop walking all day.
On the Saturday, he took his first unsupported steps. My husband and I both laughed and cried at the same time.
And then on the Monday, at nursery and with the help of staff he was back to climbing trees. And there has been no stopping him since.
It has been a slow road to recovery. It’s been tough seeing what he’s been able to do, watching how quickly he gets tired. His right leg would hurt where he had been overcompensating it. His leg would swell up if he had been doing too much so trying to force very quiet days on to a typical 3 year old was interesting. Grandparents did a great job of entertaining him, but it also meant he had a few days where he got square eyes. He enjoyed a daily hot baths (sometimes even two of them), and physio was in a heated swimming pool which he loved. They also gave him the all clear to go back to his swimming lessons. At his first lesson back, he just kept on swimming, like he had weeks to catch up on.
He’s had his follow up appointment and another xray and is picture perfect. The bone’s growing really well. The consultant said it would take another few months before it is really strong, so in the meantime no bouncy castles, trampolines or jumping off things. He’ll still limp, but this is slowly disappearing. There is a chance the new bone growth can grow too quickly so a small possibility he could have one leg longer than the other, which may only be noticeable from xrays, and by the time he’s 18, even xrays won’t be able to tell he’s had a broken bone.
It was a bleak few weeks but it’s over now and we’re looking forward to the future and summer adventures of canoeing and camping. It’s true what they say about little folk, they really do bounce back. People say to us, it must’ve been hard. It was. We’ve got our fingers crossed there’ll be no long term affects. Our son has amazed us with his determination, understanding, patience and his ability to still laugh every day. We’re so proud of him. Ask him about it now, and he looks at his leg, as if trying to remember, and then the penny drops. He did hurt his leg, a lot, but he’s got other things to think about now. I’m hoping it’s not how to climb that tree without support…at least not for a few months anyway..