Let me just get the bragging out of the way right away. Bryce is one tough kid, y'all!
I've personally stood by while he barely complained when he split his chin open to the bone, bit through his tongue, had double ear infections, a hand covered in fire ants...brain surgery. He barely seemed to notice at all.
I remember when Bryce was about a year old and he had his last shunt revision. We took him to the ER in the middle of the night because he was crying. I saw the look in the triage nurse's face when we told her we were there because he was crying. I know she was thinking, "Oh you young, new parents - babies cry." Not this one. Just a few hours later he was in emergency brain surgery. No previous symptoms or complaints - just an hour of crying.
So, on Monday when the school nurse called to say he fell walking down the hallway and bled (she emphasized the copious amounts of blood, clearly unnerved), I wasn't initially too worried. My first question to her was, is he over it now or still upset. She said he was kind of going back and forth. That's when I started to worry. He usually gets over bumps and scrapes pretty much immediately.
I went and picked him up, took him home and started to feel better as he seemed ok. I let him snuggle up in my arms and nap that afternoon and when he woke up he seemed to be slightly uncomfortable, wincing a little as he tried to get comfortable.
That night at dinner we saw the first indication that it was his mouth that was bothering him as he winced when trying to bite down on something and immediately wanted to be "all done" as per his signs.
But the next day he seemed ok. We had an ice day so he stayed home with me and the sitter all day. He played and napped and only complained when it came time to eat. And then again at dinner he clearly was pained to eat and for the first time we saw him clearly indicate severe pain as Caleb attempted to wipe his mouth after dinner.
That got us both worried enough to call and make an appointment with the pediatrician. Unfortunately ours was out on Wednesday and the one we saw wasn't familiar enough with Bryce to know he was off, or familiar enough with me to know I wasn't being overly cautious. Though I worried that I was because while he did seem not quite right, most of the time he seemed fine. And it's not like we can just ask him.
So with a clean bill of health from the pediatrician I took Bryce to school. No report from them led me to believe that they weren't noticing anything. But when he came home I knew he was still off.
Thursday, yesterday, morning I began making the dreaded phone calls. I called neurology in Dallas where the nurse said since we aren't local we should call our pediatrician again as well as neurosurgery.
I spent a ridiculous amount of time on the phone with the nurse at our pediatrician and am greatly regretting all of the wonderful praises I was singing about them just the other night to some other mamas. In her defense, our pediatrician wasn't at fault and did call back - while we were already in the ER.
Our neurosurgeon's nurse was really the saving grace of my week. I didn't have to hold to talk to her, she asked a lot of informed questions (nice change after speaking to the pedi nurse) and took me seriously. She then called the nurse practitioner and five minutes later called me back.
Her advice? Go to the ER.
My response? But, do we have to?
I feel bad now, but we've spent a good solid six months of our lives in that hospital all told. If I can avoid it, know that I will. Like the plague.
I argued it wasn't an emergency, practically begged her to let us come to the office and insisted there must be a better solution. She finally convinced me that we needed to go somewhere right away and that it needed to be a place where they could run tests and order scans.
So Caleb met me at home where Bryce was just getting back from school. We packed up and headed to our least favorite place. In the whole world. No offense to all of the wonderful angels who work there. We love you all but would prefer our relationship be solely a social one.
The ER doctors were great. They heard me, you know really heard me. Touched his face to see that he was clearly having pain, ordered a CT that would show his entire jaw as well as he shunt. Two birds, one stone - that's the kind of medicine that restores my faith in our health care system.
Shunt function is fine (YIPEE!). Jaw not so much.
Bryce has two fractures in his lower jaw. One clean break right in the center of his chin. And one not at all clean break on the right side, near the joint and his ear. That one is apparently "broken into a bunch of small pieces."
I feel so incredibly terrible that he's had a broken jaw for 4 days before we found out about it. I mean no wonder he hasn't seemed himself, I know that must be truly painful.
Tough kid, y'all! TOUGH.
The good news is that the cranio facial surgeons said they don't want to do surgery. Kids grow bone and heal so quickly that fixing it would really just risk his jaw fusing together and therefore causing subsequent need for surgery.
So in and out in about three hours. Is that an ER record? Because I really thought we'd be there until midnight. With a prescription for some good pain meds and an appointment with the specialists next week to get the gory details.
Sometimes I really do want to be like, "Really, Life? Can't ya just cut us a tiny break?" But then I think better of tempting fate that way.
And I know that while my life feels like living inside a tornado - you know, all spinning out of control, feeling sick with anxiety and as if you've landed in some foreign land - it could be worse. For many, it is worse.
So I'm practicing deep breathing, snuggling these sweet, crazy little Tasmanian devils as much as possible, writing to you guys and running again. Oh and I have my very first ever therapy appointment on Tuesday. Way overdue on that one.
Thanks for checking in on us, cheering us on, sending good thoughts out into the universe, prayers up above and all of those comments, emails and phone calls have truly made me feel loved. Couldn't do it without ya!