Visit to the ER

Yesterday Namine told us that she thought her leg might be broken, so we took her to the ER. (The X-rays came back negative.)

We were at Penzey’s Spices — where Jessica was excited to spend a gift card and Namine was excited to draw a treasure map at the pirate-themed kids’ table — when Namine said that her leg hurt. She wasn’t crying, but she said matter-of-factly that it felt like it did when she broke her leg last year.

Even though the Urgent Care was closer, we chose to head straight to the ER. It was Namine’s left leg that hurt, the same one that had so many complications after the break.

Quick recap: after being in a cast, Namine’s leg developed pressure sores, which turned into cellulitis. She now has scar tissue in the skin and muscle, and the leg will forever be susceptible to skin infections.

After five hours (that’s just ridiculous), Namine was discharged from the ER with the doctors concluding that her leg was not broken. It still hurt, but they said that was likely due to bruised tendon or muscle. We weren’t sure, though. When Namine broke her leg last February, the ER docs almost didn’t catch the hairline fracture she had then, so we followed up with Namine’s orthopedic surgeon today.

In that appointment, Namine’s leg was X-rayed again. And it’s a good thing it was, because her doctor caught something the ER doc didn’t: a compression fracture (in layman’s terms, the bone has buckled) in her femur, just above her knee. It’s very hard to detect, but at several times magnification, it is visible.

Dr. Black showed us a comparison of the X-rays taken in the ER and the ones his own staff took. The film which showed the break was what doctors call an AP shot: anteroposterior, or front to back. He explained that the ER staff never took one of this type, and when you’re dealing with potential leg breaks, you always want an AP shot. (We’re filing this little bit of knowledge away in our mental file cabinets for the next ER visit.)

This is exactly why we wanted a second opinion. Dr. Black knows Namine, and he knows her complicated leg history. It’s not that we don’t trust doctors in the ER (not completely), but they don’t know Namine and we do. (It’s also frustrating when doctors don’t listen to you because they “know better.”) It’s funny: Namine has been doing so well, she’s so healthy, that she doesn’t visit her vacation home (as we half-jokingly used to call the hospital) nearly as regularly as she used to. The staff at the hospital has changed over so much that so few of them know her or her history anymore. Make no mistake, that’s a good thing, but when we need a doctor to listen and not judge, it’s maddening. (And the former director of the Special Needs program, Dr. Gordon, is no longer there!)

So contrary to what we were told in the ER, Namine does have a broken leg. Probably. The break in her femur — if it is one — is so slight that it could just be bruising on the bone. Still, it’s better to be cautious, so Namine will have to take it easy for a few weeks. We’ll come back to see Dr. Black again in a month or so, when he’ll repeat the X-rays and look at her leg again.

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