ABC (Always Be Childproofing)

It’s been almost 2 weeks and I’m ready to share this unpleasant experience that our family, more specifically Willa, went through. I shared our story in a few parenting groups as a bit of a PSA, but wanted to post a longer version here as well in case it will help anyone. Don’t worry, I will not include any graphic images but I will go into detail about how she hurt her toe.

If you don’t want to read any further, I understand. But here’s the PSA:

Do you have free weights or other workout equipment at home? Childproof them, right now.

The AAP has a guide here for more information on what to do.

I can’t tell you how many times our pediatrician asked us to “tell [her] about the childproofing [we] have done at home” during our regular checkups. And how many times we proudly rattled off all of the things we had done (anchored all the furniture, covered outlets, latched the drawers, covered the doorknobs, you name it!).

But we forgot something – my little home gym area that we setup due to the pandemic. We forgot about a 10 lb dumbbell I’d purchased more recently.

See, Willa is about 2.5 years old now. She’s still widely known as “Chilla” – because she’s not a runner, she’s not a huge explorer, she’s just very chill most of the time. So it didn’t cross our minds that she would ever quickly run over to the little makeshift home gym and pull that 10 lb dumbbell off the rack and drop it straight onto her greater left toe.

There was a lot of blood; there was a lot of crying. We frantically held paper towels to her toe as us adults changed from our pajamas to clothes we could bring her to the ER in. The ride to Chippenham Hospital’s pediatric ER was so long (it’s about 10 minutes away but felt much longer), I tried my best to distract her with videos on my phone as Anthony drove.

They brought us back quickly and immediately administered an oral pain medication. A few minutes later they used numbing injections to bring more immediate and powerful relief to her toe. After that point she stopped crying. She was still shaken up but she was watching videos on our phones, singing along (and dancing) to the music, and in a good mood despite not having had lunch yet.

They wanted us to hold off on snacks until X-rays were done and they could rule out a need for surgery. Thankfully the X-ray techs quickly arrived and took several images of her foot. They asked her if she wanted to see those images and of course she said yes, so they showed them to her and pointed out different parts as well as the injury.

It turns out the tip of her toe was fractured. After this discovery, the ER Doctor cleaned up her toe and stitched it up. The washing was uncomfortable because of the cold solution apparently, but Willa didn’t bat an eye at the stitching. Like my first experience with stitches, Willa received 6 stitches. The ER Doctor told us that despite the entire toenail being gone, the nail bed seemed to be in tact. Of course, a toenail is the last of our priorities, but we’re still glad to hear it should grow back eventually. The nurses gave Willa a popsicle and she was very happy about that.

That evening and night we alternated pain medications and comforted each other as best we could. It was a hard evening but she was honestly such a trooper through it all. We let her daycare teacher know that she would be out for the week and her teacher promptly sent back a very sweet video letting her know she was thinking about her and to feel better (and to listen to mommy and daddy this week, haha). Willa enjoyed that video SO much, we’ve watched it a million times by now.

The next morning at 8:00 on the dot, I called OrthoVirginia and amazingly they squeezed us in for an appointment that same morning. At our appointment, they did not change the dressing on her toe because they explained that if they did there would be a lot of bleeding. But they did re-wrap her foot, fitted her for a boot, and set us up for a follow-up in a week. The best news was that we didn’t have to wash the toe at all between now and then.

Willa gladly wore the boot home but we took it off for her nap time. After that she did not want to put the boot back on – uh oh. She often responded that she didn’t need the boot because “daddy carry me!” which was honestly not a lie, he’d do anything for her.

Later that evening, presents began to arrive for her! She was showered with so many gifts from family and friends, these are just a few photos of what she received. Thank you so much to everyone who sent well wishes to her in any way. She greatly appreciates all the video calls, messages, videos, letters, gifts, etc.

After a few days of us offering her the boot to wear, she finally agreed to give it another try. The most motivating of factors was that my mom, Grandma Diane, would be arriving for a visit soon. It seems she understood she would need to be able to walk in the boot in order to get grandma to chase after her!

She was just getting comfortable walking in the boot when grandma arrived! My mom stayed for the weekend and we went to the library, outdoor bilingual story time, had dinner at two of our favorite restaurants outside, and even went to the outdoor mall and had gelato!

Then on Monday we went back to OrthoVirginia for our follow-up. They removed the wrap, dressing on her toe, and all 6 stitches. Apparently due to the placement of the stitches, it made removing them quite difficult and that did cause Willa some pain. It was very brief though and she was fine afterwards – even give a high five to the provider at the end of our appointment.

They said that everything looked to be healing well and that she would need to wear the boot for 3 more weeks to give the fracture more time to heal. At that point we’ll return for another checkup and X-rays to see how well the fracture had healed so we can go from there.

They let us know at this point that she would be fine to go back to school, especially since she was not needing pain medication around the clock anymore. She returned to school on Tuesday and according to her teacher she is doing great! She does NOT let the boot slow her down, we’ve gotten a few videos proving this.

We’re now navigating showers/baths where the water comes in contact with her toe. It’s a slow process which requires a lot of reassurance, but it’s getting better each day. She’s still taking some pain medication as needed and oral antibiotics until those 2 weeks are up. She has also recently decided that only I can change the bandage on her toe which is lovely because… well…

I haven’t mentioned this part yet, but seeing her injured toe is very hard for me. I am not usually that squeamish, but seeing her little toe all bloody and bruised sends chills down my spine. I’m working through it though, especially now that she requires that I replace the bandages every day. There’s some bruising on the underside of her foot and dried blood at the nail bed and elsewhere. The toe is not swollen or misshapen as I had feared. Honestly it probably would look worse if her toenail had remained.

So, all-in-all she’s on the mend, every day better than the last. We are incredibly lucky to have amazing healthcare options in our area, wonderful insurance through our employer, and a kiddo who takes things easy on us even when things go so haywire.

The moral of the story: Please think of odd things like dumbbells/gym equipment around your house that could become a hazard. Even if they are tucked away where your child never goes.

It may sound weird but go stand in each room and look around for a few minutes. Make changes based on what you see. Do this every few months as your child and your home grows and changes.

Oh and in case you wanted a little update on my dumbbells: All the weights are gone. I couldn’t stand to look at them ever again and honestly had been planning to get rid of them anyways since I am back at the gym in person now.

A very thoughtful friend offered to take them and I gladly accepted. Her husband came to pick them up within an hour or so of us being home from the hospital. For now they’re stored in my friend’s shed, soon we’ll make a plan to give them away – with the disclaimer to childproof them of course!

One response to “ABC (Always Be Childproofing)”

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