My son broke his femur walking home from school

Tuesday, February 26, 2013
I had a writer's conference Feb 16 and 17th (a Friday and Saturday)--writer's conferences always exhaust me. The following Monday, my husband and I spent the entire day boxing up the majority of our house and moving it into the garage to make way for the new carpet we had coming in the next day.

On Tuesday, I cleaned walls and washed baseboards while the carpet guys worked. At 3:40, I received a phone call from my older son who'd borrowed a neighbor's phone. My younger son had fallen and was unable to walk home. I drove to the school to find him laying on the sidewalk. 

I asked him where it hurt. He said it was his entire leg. This comforted me, as the severe injuries are usually localized. I picked him up to load him into the van, and he screamed in pain. Unsure whether he was overreacting or not, I brought him home and set him on the kitchen table (the only room that had standing furniture left). I dosed him with Motrin and Tylenol and gave him and ice pack. 

He sat quietly on the table, crying out whenever anyone bumped him. He finally let me touch his leg and I ascertained that his knee and below were fine. It only hurt about halfway up his thigh. My older son said he simply lost his balance and fell.  Knowing how hard it is to break a femur, I figured he must have pulled a muscle. 

After a couple hours, I laid him on a mattress (again, he cried out whenever I moved him) and he fell asleep. My husband returned from work and we proceeded to move furniture back into the house. 

At 8:30, I went to check on him. He was awake and lying quietly. I turned his foot 30 degrees to remove his shoe and he screamed. I knew a leg cramp or pulled muscle shouldn't hurt for this long. We called our neighbor and friend over to give him a blessing.

I wasn't sure how a minor fall (my older son said he just tripped and didn't even hit hard) could break a femur, but I was becoming convinced that's what happened. 

We splinted his leg, wrapped him in a blanket and drove him to the emergency room. Within fifteen minutes, we were able to see the ex-rays. He had a spiral fracture of his femur. I could see this cloudy mass on his leg and asked what it was. The tech didn't know. 

The physician came and told us it could be cancer. 

I'd been holding up pretty well through this, but I lost it at this point and collapsed on a chair and promptly had an anxiety attack. 

They faxed the results to the doctor and radiologist, both of whom thought it looked like a non-ossifying fibroma, which is a noncancerous tumor. Basically, it was a hole in his bone a little smaller than a quarter, which is huge for a seven-year old's leg. 

I was able to leave the chair. 

He was dosed with morphine and we were admitted. The doctor figures that his femur broke while he was simply walking home, and the broken leg is what caused his fall. Every time he moved, the jagged bone was stabbing him from the inside (insert major mother guilt here). He had surgery the next day. Allowing him to be wheeled away from me while he cried out in fear and pain was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. 

The surgery went extremely well. The next 24 hours were hard, but the pediatric wing had a wii gaming system, and my son had it all to himself, which helped as much as the drugs they administered. 

On Thursday, he was able to sit up a little. By that afternoon, physical therapy helped him walk a few steps with a the help of a mini walker. 

By that evening, he was able to go about 15 feet. Hoping to get a better nights sleep, I went home for the first time in days. Unfortunately, I couldn't get my other two children to bed, and my 3 YO had me up twice in the night. 

He was released on Friday. We had a little trouble finding a walker for someone as small as him, but we finally located one. He also has a wheelchair. 

It's been difficult for him to maneuver in our four level multilevel, but he's doing remarkably well. 

Today, I finally received the results of the biopsy. He's cancer free. 

A hard week, but honestly, I'm counting my blessings. The best orthopedic surgeon in the valley happened to be on call. Bad things happen to everyone. We were unlucky for sure, but I have good neighbors and family who were able to take care of my other children. Our insurance deductible has dropped six thousand dollars in the last two years, and we have an HSA that should cover most of the bills. People have left us cookies, meals, and notes. My entire family came to see him in the hospital. We were surrounded by love and caring, and in that, I saw the love and caring of my heavenly father. 


  1. Patricia said...:

    Amber I am so sorry you have had such a rough time. I thought I was having it bad. Do the doctors think he will have anymore of the tumors? You were/are truly blessed that it was not cancerous. I will keep you in my prayers and thoughts. May God bless you and yours!

    Patricia aka Mamaw

  1. Chris v said...:

    Oh my goodness, what a scary thing. I wish you and your family well. I hope he recovers quickly.

  1. By sheer coincidence my father in law, who is 72, fell and broke his femur last week. We were relieved it wasn't his hip, as that would have been MUCH worse. There's always a silver lining.
    Blessings on you and your family.

  1. I hope he recovers well, and I'm glad it wasn't as scary as it could have been. Sounds scary enough. Best wishes for you and your family!

  1. Patricia: No. This is a pretty rare tumor. We asked about checking his body for more, but the doc said that would expose him to too much radiation.

    Chris: Thank you.

    Laura: I'm so sorry. I hope he's doing better.

    JoLynne: Plenty scary enough.

  1. I'm so happy this turned out okay. *HUGS*

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