CHEO, the Childrens Hospital of Eastern Ontario, is one of those luxuries that you don’t really appreciate until you really need it. I must say, as the mother of three boys, we have been fortunate enough not to have been to CHEO often.
The first time, approximately 8 years ago, my middle son spent two weeks there with a ruptured appendix. Of course I lived there with him; it was a scary experience as we did not find out he had appendicitis until the appendix had ruptured and the subsequent infection spread through his system. I had taken him to the doctor several times before the diagnosis was made and was sent home each time thinking he had the flu. It was only my persistence that they perform an ultrasound at CHEO because I no longer believed he had the flu that discovered the ruptured appendix. I loved the fact that the nurses listened to me as a mother; this son is never sick and when is is, he never complains, just goes to bed and hopes to feel better soon. Somehow I knew something was terribly wrong, and told the nurses so. That was our first experience with the impressive care and convenience of CHEO.
Last week I had the opportunity to visit CHEO again. This time my youngest son was injured in a hockey game, in the east end of Ottawa, just a few blocks from CHEO. He dove for the puck, trying to get it away from an opponent on a break away. He managed to get the puck away from the player and prevented a goal, but in doing so crashed into the net at full speed, hitting his head on the goalpost, and sending the net flying into the end boards. Thankfully our goaltender and the opposing player got out of the way in time to avoid a pile-up, although that might have softened my son’s fall. The noise was horrendous; I could only stand and watch as my son lay on the ice for what seemed like an eternity. When he finally tried to get up, he promptly fell back to the ice surface because his legs would not support his body. With the support of our team trainer and a team-mate, my son slowly made it off the ice and to the locker room. After an assessment by our trainer, we were given directions to CHEO, which was fortunately only a few blocks away.
By the time we got into the emergency department, his concussion-like symptoms of headache, nausea, and general fogginess had lifted, but his left thumb was four times the size of his right thumb. Neurological, physical testing and an xray showed he had no concussion symptoms, but did have a fractured thumb. We are not sure how it happened, but the injury, an avulsion fracture, is common in skiers and hockey players that sustain the injury when they take a fall while holding a ski pole or hockey stick.
The worse part is that my son is left-handed, so the simple things like tying his shoes, getting dressed, writing in school, taking a shower (he has to put a plastic bag on his cast), preparing a snack, and cutting his food, etc are difficult with a cast on his hand. I am just happy it was his thumb and not his head that sustained the worst damage as concussions can be long-lasting, life-changing and even fatal.
We have an appointment at CHEO this coming week to see an orthopedic specialist who will be able to tell us just how long he will have to wear the cast, not to mention when he can play hockey again…