13 November 2008

Earning Trust by Reduction

Last night Trinhity got her second 'nursemaid's elbow', a partial dislocation of her right elbow.

More technically, it's an "interposition of the annular ligament into the radial humerus joint", which essentially means that a ligament has slipped out of where it should be and ends up where it shouldn't. It's common for young kids, but that doesn't stop it from being painful.

I thought I blogged about the first one, but I can't find it. It was completely my fault, and I felt like dirt about it. Still do. She was 2, maybe 2.5 when it happened. We were at Starbucks, and I was swinging her by her arms. She was laughing -- and then she was crying. She held her arm and refused to move it.

We iced it, took her home, surfed hard and figured out that it was probably a pulled elbow, then took her to the doctor. She hated that. But he agreed with our diagnosis and performed a slick rotate-and-bend trick that took a whopping 2 seconds, fixed it. We asked him to instruct us on how to do it. He kindly agreed.

Last night while the Mama-san was out taking a walk and I was feeding Tai his dinner of porridge and provolone (mmm!), Trinh was swimming her way across the hardwoods to the dinner table. I didn't see it, but she apparently slipped and rolled her body weight over her right arm.

Her sudden cry was unexpected and uncharacteristic, so I rushed out and swept her up. I hauled her back to the kitchen and proceeded to try to stuff porridge into the little dude with one hand while peppering her with a string of questions about what hurt, how it happened, range of movement, etc.

When he was sated and I'd sorta wiped his face, I took them both back out to where it happened and attempted to re-enact the fall according to her instructions. "No, Daddy," she mussed through her tears, "that's not how a penguin swims!"

It would have been roaring farce if not for the tragedy.

I called the Mama-san; she rushed home. We agreed on the diagnosis, and I surfed again quickly to brush up the fix, a technique called "reduction". I was moderately confident.

At first she didn't want me to touch it, but she relented quickly when I presented the alternative: a trip to the emergency room. I performed the maneuver quickly and felt the ligament snap (cringe) back into place like a rubber band.

She continued to fuss, and I wasn't sure it was fixed. I rushed the mancub upstairs for his bath, and Trinh & Mama stayed downstairs to snuggle and read books. Somewhere along the way she put her arm up into the air and said, "Look, Mama, it's fixed!"

Hallelujah. Seeing those little arms waving for her goodnight hug last night brought tears to my eyes. I don't remember a sweeter hug.

The semantics are ironic, no? Perhaps they could be taken as an axiom for the always tenuous but compensatory way in which trust and joy arise from hardship and sorrow: "By way of reduction was a new level of trust earned."

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