Toddler Injury Takes Us to the Hospital

Yesterday seriously sucked.  First we had our library trip of d00m, which is when our toddler injury occurred.  Then we got Norton checked out during my doctor’s appointment and found out that we needed to take him to the hospital for x-rays to find out the extent of said toddler injury.

That was when it got fun.  The toddler x-ray took under an hour, which is pretty darned amazing since we just walked in with a requisition and no appointment.  Since I’m pregnant, I obviously couldn’t be the one to go in.  I was never so grateful for my husband coming along for all doctor’s appointments as I was yesterday.   While the husband was in with Norton, I waited in the hall and listened to my toddler screaming in pain.  The guilt was unbelievable.  It was my fault that Norton was hurt.

After Norton had his toddler x-ray done on his shoulder, we went home.  Norton was still not using his arm, still crying, and still obviously miserable.  He was also obviously tired, so we put him down for another nap.  He didn’t fight this one too much, although it was difficult for him since his thumb sucking hand was the one that was attached to his sore arm.

Our doctor called us back around 4:30.  Norton was just starting to wake up, and he woke up crying.  She said that they didn’t find anything on the x-ray, so could I take a look at him?  His fingers were still swollen, he was still hot (but not running a fever), and his left arm was still hanging limp beside him.  Ultimately, she advised me to take him to the hospital for more thorough x-rays.  We’d agreed that perhaps, since it wasn’t his shoulder that was damaged, it was nursemaid’s elbow.

I’d never heard of it until earlier that day when my friend Amanda suggested that’s what it could have been.  Apparently, it’s a common toddler injury since they do things like trip and fall (or in Norton’s case, try to run away) while holding hands.  It’s essentially a slightly dislocated elbow that really hurts, hurts even more when it’s set back in place, and then doesn’t hurt any longer as soon as it’s adjusted.  In any event, we loaded Norton up and went to the hospital.  We got there right around five o’clock.

It seemed like we waited forever, but fortunately, we had brought sufficient provisions to keep Norton happy.  The diaper bag had a sippy cup full of milk, a thermos with more milk for refills, string cheese, and cereal bars.  He was still fussy and prone to toddler screaming (and of course, if I had an arm that hurt so badly that I could stand to move it and it got jostled, I’d probably scream, too).  Still, in between fits of toddler screaming, we did manage to keep him happy.

The resident (who, interestingly enough, was working in L&D as a med student when I was extremely pregnant with Norton) came in, checked him out, and also thought that a nursemaid’s elbow injury seemed like the likely culprit.  She went to go check with the doctor to see if he wanted to try to set it or have a toddler x-ray done on Norton’s tiny little elbow.  After another hour, he’d been given some Tylenol by the staff and the doctor and the resident returned to try to set his elbow.

It didn’t work.  Norton screamed, but instead of instantly having use of his arm again, his arm remained limp.  The doctor also said that he did not feel that characteristic popping back into place associated with fixing a nursemaid’s elbow.  Still, they wanted us to wait longer in the room (an actual room, fortunately, rather than one of those little curtained of places… it’s where they put pregnant women with threatened miscarriages and injured children when available, which is preferable) to see if Norton would regain the use of his arm.

After another hour, no dice.  This time, they decided that it was time for some Infant Advil and another x-ray to see what was going on in there.

I rode into the x-ray room with Norton.  I snuggled up with him on the gurney while the tech wheeled us on.  I climbed off when we were inside… and Norton sobbed.  My heart broke for my baby as I listened to him scream once more.

It seemed like it took forever even though I knew that it was only a few minutes.  The ultimate diagnosis?  Norton had a sprained elbow.  I was to give him Infant Advil three times per day and watch to see if using his arm improved.  We bundled our baby up and went home.  It was nearly 9pm, way after Norton’s bedtime.  He went straight to bed.  I sat up and berated myself some more for causing him to get hurt in the first place.

But at least he would be all right.

About Suzi

Suzi is an American ex-pat living in British Columbia. She's a cloth diaper addict, wife, mom of three, and President of the Prince George chapter of Cloth for a Cause.


  1. My daughter actually had a dislocated elbow a few weeks ago. The cure for her was getting the xray (all the wiggling and moving and screaming popped it back in place). She was totally fine afterwards.

    Hopefully Norton feels better soon!! And don’t feel too bad, it’s extremely common!

  2. Oh, that sucks! Poor little guy. I can’t imagine not being able to go in with him. I’d have bawled too. When Ky had to have all those x-rays for… well, all of her various injuries (she gets the klutziness honestly) I was a mess being in there with her. ***hugs*** I hope he feels better quickly. You’re an awesome mama, btw!

  3. I hate mom guilt! Just remember that Norton still loves you and you didn’t do it on purpose. Accidents happen so fast. I am thankful that it is a sprain that will heal eventually.

  4. My son had nursemaids elbow too, he got it his first day of pre-school! They took all sorts of x-rays, while the poor boy bravely kept himself from screaming at the nurses. The x-rays turned out to be nothing, and after 5 hours and 500 $ for an ER visit, the doctor came in and popped it back into place! My boy was all better, the pain stopped almost immediately. The doctor showed me how to pop it back in, and showed me the warning signs of nursemaids elbow, just in case…Hope your little one is all better now!

    • Yup, he’s all better. Turns out that it was a sprain and not nursemaid’s elbow. Took him about 24 hours to start tearing around the house like everything was normal.

  5. If I could hug away the stress you and your little guy felt I would. so open your arms, I am sending you a big Nanna hug.
    Accidnts happen. I am happy you listened to his complaints. Not every parents does listen, sad to say. I am also glad you turned this injury into something that you could pass on to other parents. thank you for sharing your ordeal. bless you for helpping others. Malika the No Non-cents Nanna


  1. […] to take off in the library.  I was holding his hand.  He got hurt.  And we ended up spending hours in the hospital getting x-rays since he couldn’t use his arm at all.  That was when I found out about […]

  2. […] mom.  Of course, I may not have found it to be so traumatic if it didn’t end with a visit to the hospital.  Strong Start didn’t lead to a trip to the hospital, but I was still an overwhelmed mom by […]

  3. […] I’m doing what it takes to be a better mom.  Some days (like when we go to the library and things fall apart or we go to Strong Start and I nearly have a nervous breakdown), I think that I’m completely […]

  4. […] all that pretty.  Norton tried to run away from me in the stacks.  Norton hurt his arm and we ended up at the hospital for five hours.  And then, of course, there was the wonderful damage that this trip did to my […]

  5. […] So he decided to throw himself on the floor.  When he did, we had the return of the dreaded nursemaid’s elbow.  We decided to wait it out; it happens frequently and usually resets itself with him.  I was […]

  6. […] Of course, we still need to go to more things (well any thing) that will give Norton the opportunity to be around other kids.  We’ll go to the library for toddler time again.  I’ll just have to make sure that I put Norton’s leash on so that we don’t end up back at the hospital. […]

  7. […] screamed.  (And who could blame him?  That crap hurts.)  It took a moment to see how severe of a toddler injury we were dealing with.  His mouth was bleeding and he had a fat lip.  I took a paper towel off of […]

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