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Breaking is Bad ~ Ollie’s Arm Story

I went from crying to laughing in less than five minutes.

Ollie and I had to stop by the store to pick up a few additions to our spaghetti dinner. We spent all day concentrating on his right arm. It broke on Monday night, but we didn’t know until Tuesday morning. That afternoon, I took him to the ortho clinic at a Children’s Hospital satellite clinic, where they splinted his arm. It was hoped it would stay on and he wouldn’t need an armpit-to-hand cast.

As I pulled into the grocery store parking lot, the tears came out of nowhere. I was exhausted from a night and day of worry. His tumble played over and over in my head, but I knew there was nothing I could have done to prevent what happened.


He was simply standing against the couch, cruising. He stopped, stepped, lost his balance, and fell. It was compounded by a propped throw pillow. It was like a trampoline and ramp. He bounced, rolled a revolution and a half, and landed face down. It looked crazy, but not terrible.

When he came to a stop, he was quiet. I almost laughed in wonder because it was quite spectacular. But then we realized he was quiet because he was holding his breath. Lee picked him up and then he finally breathed a scream. His right arm was floppy. Right away, we suspected something was wrong with it. I took him and sat, trying to calm him. Lee made a warm bottle, which Ollie eagerly drank—holding it with both hands! Oh, his arm is fine, we thought. I felt both arms and there were no weird lumps or swelling or bruising. Ollie fell asleep for the night soon after he finished the bottle. I didn’t sleep, checking on him multiple times. He slept really well and woke up happy.

Ollie’s custom is to drink his morning bottle lying on the living room floor. When he’s done, he flings the bottle away, much as I fling my coffee mug toward the clock. Then, he sits up and begins his daily exploration. He went to crawl and yelped, holding his arm up. He looked at Lee and I and showed us his arm. He looked at it, looked at us, looked back at it, and then tried to crawl again. Another yelp! When the pediatrician’s office opened, I called.

They sent him for an xray, which showed a distal radius fracture. It’s the most common arm fracture in children. Most happen when the kiddo is falling and sticks out an arm. Crack.

He’d need to see an pediatric orthopedist, who would decide how to treat him. It was hoped he could get away with just the splint because it’s easier to care for and easier on little guys. It was not to be, as it fell off within a couple of hours after getting home. It fell off again during the evening, twice during the night, and while driving the kids to school. Once he figured it could come off, he made it his mission in life to get it off.

baby with arm splint

Splinted! The green wrap was supposed to keep him from the Velcro. He managed to take off the wrap and put it in his mouth---another reason to ditch the splint!

I called the clinic back and told them the splint wasn’t staying on, so they said he needed an armpit-to-hand cast. I took the three little guys back to the ortho clinic, where two people managed to get one blue cast on the teeny arm of a furiously angry 11-month-old.

Archie and Teddy were stellar. I couldn’t believe how good they were. Both pulled chairs up to Ollie as I held him, patted his head and told him it was going to be okay. I was and still am so proud of them at that moment.

baby with broken arm cast


He needs to be casted for three weeks. Little ones heal much more quickly than adults. I hope the time flies because it’s definitely awkward for him. He crawls 80% of the time. 20% is cruising around the furniture with a few stabs at independent walking thrown in. I wonder if this will inspire him to ditch the frustration of crawling in favor of trying to walk more?


I dried off the tears and took a deep breath. I pulled Ollie, who was asleep, out of his car seat and whispered for him to wake up. He stirred as I carried him into the store. I grabbed a cart and put him in the seat, half awake. The snap of the safety belt woke him. I pushed the cart toward the meat department to get some Italian sausage. As I rounded a corner, a man stood looking at chicken with two kids. He had a broken right arm in a black cast and sling. Heh. You’re not alone, I told Ollie. Then we rounded another corner to the ground meat case. An older woman was standing in front of little trays of beef. She had a broken right arm! I felt like I was on a hidden camera show. As I compared packs of sausage, she left. I found what I wanted and took off toward the bakery.

The man with the black cast was ahead of us. The older woman was next, and then our cart brought up the rear. Three carts in a row, with three broken right arms. I started giggling out loud. The pathetic little parade cruised by the produce section and anyone standing in the cracker aisle waiting to turn into traffic may have been a bit baffled. They may have touched their right arm to make sure it was okay.

I was so thankful for the opportunity to release pressure through tears, then laughter. Ollie’s a strong little man. He has to be. He’s adjusting so well. The only way it’s slowed him down is when he eats. Rather than picking up food daintily with his right fingers, he’s sort of scooping and cramming with his left hand.

baby with broken arm

Happy now!

(This isn’t our family’s first broken arm! Joel had the same type of break when he was 15 months old. One may think the past experience should have clued us in, but with nine kids, we’ve learned 99% of the time, kids are bendy and resilient. They don’t need to be rushed to the emergency room for every bonk, cut, or fall. Joel pointed out both he and Ollie were born in October, so it could be related. Beware, October birthday people!)

8 comments to Breaking is Bad ~ Ollie’s Arm Story

  • JoAnn

    Carson was an Oct Baby, he had same thing when he was around 2.

    Hugs to little guy! Here’s hoping 3 weeks goes by fast!

  • Heth

    He’s adorable.

  • amyptucson

    “much as I fling my coffee mug toward the clock”

  • Oh poor poor little guy… I am so sorry… we have done the broken bone thing just once before and it took forever, long after the cast came off. I hope his little arm gets better really soon… Here’s a link to our broken leg experience:

  • Kristy

    Sweet Ollie. I can imagine how he fought the cast with more force than Stella fights her nose wiped! Also, I think I’m really glad she was born in November!

    Levi had a toddler fracture in his leg or foot. He wouldn’t walk for a few weeks, we had to carry him or he crawled. There was nothing they could do for it.

  • Aunt Judy

    So sorry to hear about Ollie. The pain of empathy we experience when our children are hurt is probably as bad as their physical pain. They do heal very quickly at this age though, and he won’t even remember it in a few weeks. Tell Joel that I have an October birthday and I’m going to move very carefully during the coming month! Love, Aunt Judy

  • Kieran had 2 broken bones his first 18 months. Oy. I know. The casts are a pain, it’s hard to watch them struggle with it, and the stress is palbable. But Iit will heal fast and he’ll be back to normal. Hugs to you both, friend.

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