This morning, we were playing on the Big Bed while Daddy got ready for work. Like the escape artist he strives to be, RJ climbed over me and was headed for the floor when I grabbed his arm to keep him from falling and hurting himself. I heard [and felt] a pop in his arm, but I didn't really think anything of it. Joints pop, no big deal, and it wasn't a first for him. But this time he cried. And cried. And wouldn't stop crying. I cradled and loved him, snuggled him close, but it didn't seem to help. And then I noticed that he wasn't using his right arm - the one I had a hold of when he was falling. The dread set in; I tried to move it for him, which only made the crying worse. All I could think was that I had dislocated his arm somehow - how was I going to explain this to his doctor without making them think that my child was being abused? What kind of parent injures their child? I saw my Mother-of-the-Year award flying out the window, and with it, my sanity. My first priority was getting help for my child - I could worry about what the hospital would do to me later.
I called Peds clinic on base, but there were no appointments available today. They recommended a visit to the ER, so we packed up and headed out. RJ had calmed down quite a bit, as long as his arms wasn't bothered, but there was no way to get him into his car seat without aggravating whatever was hurting him. My poor boy screamed a little louder when I buckled him in, and my heart ached a little more. What had I done to my baby?
Getting him out of his seat was just about as bad as getting him in had been, and the tears were still coming when we walked into the ER. The nurse took us right back to examine him. She tried a grab test to see if he would use his arm, but the boy who usually wants to take anything you'll hand him would have nothing to do with anything that came near his right hand. We were taken back to see the doctor, who tried the same test to see if he liked her 'toys' better. No go. She had me gently squeeze up his arm to see where the pain was, and he was sure to let us know that his elbow was not happy about that. She took his hand and moved it around, bent his elbow, straightened his arm, and then tried to hand him another 'toy'. And just like that, I had my curious boy back - he reached out with his right hand and snatched it out of her hand.
The doctor diagnosed him with a case of Nursemaid's Elbow - by keeping his from falling on his head, I had accidentally pulled his elbow out of joint. Knowing that my child wasn't going to need a cast and I wasn't on trial for inflicting this ailment on him turned a terrifying ordeal into just one of the many trips I'm sure we'll make to the ER in years to come.
RJ has been perfectly fine ever since. He doesn't even seem to remember that his arm was hurt earlier today. We're right back to play time and snacks, with no looking back.