How often do you go to the hospital?
“Do you go to the hospital every time you break a bone?”
This is a question I get ALL THE TIME. The short answer is “no,” in fact, I rarely go to the hospital for a broken bone. I am extremely lucky to have grown up with parents in the medical field, even if most of their patients have four legs and fur. We actually joke that I’m basically like treating a medium-sized dog. Over the years, my mother has gotten incredibly skilled in splinting and wrapping my various injuries, and always does a better job than they do at the hospital. Emergency room doctors only have access to certain casting materials, most of which are heavy and bulky (maybe that’s gotten better over the last twenty years—I wouldn’t know because I haven’t been there in that long!) These heavy materials actually do me more harm than good. For example, if I break my arm and they put a heavy cast on it to stabilize it, chances are that the weight of the cast will either break my shoulder, collar bone, or ribs. Trust me, it’s happened. Many times. And of course most emergency room doctors are not familiar with O.I., so they don’t usually think of issues like these.
Being a vet, Mom has access to these casting materials as well as lighter ones that are just as effective. We have pre-made splints on standby for my arms and legs just in case I need them. And we can always make more. For a minor fracture, I use Vet Wrap, which is this stretchy but extremely supportive material that is almost like wearing nothing. It’s like an Ace Bandage, but lighter and stretchier. It’s great for stabilizing torn ligaments as well. We get it through her office and I keep a stock of different sizes on hand just in case.
Let me guess, your next question is, “But, don’t you need an x-ray to find out if your bone is actually broken?” First of all, when you’ve broken bones over 500 times by the age of ten, trust me, you know when it’s broken and when it’s not. For those of you that have never broken a bone, it’s usually quite loud—there’s usually some kind of pop or snap involved. Granted, a dislocation can be just as loud, but that’s a different kind of pain, and you just learn to tell them apart from experience.
Secondly, more often then not, my breaks don’t show up on x-rays anyway. My bones are so soft and have so little calcium that they are gray instead of white on x-rays. The images are usually so fuzzy that unless the break is super significant and displaced, you just don’t see it. I can’t tell you the number of times doctors have told me there is no break when I know good and well there is. So basically, it’s just not worth the hassle. Plus, if I got an x-ray for every bone I broke, I’d be glowing from the radiation.
The only instances in recent years (and by recent I mean the last twenty) that I’ve actually gone to my orthopedist for a broken bone was the handful of times my parents and I thought the metal rods in my arm or legs were affected by the injury. I have metal rods in both legs (top and bottom) and one arm that were surgically added when I was very young to keep my bones straighter and to help them break less. They have helped me tremendously, but it is possible to bend them when you have a traumatic break. I’ve luckily only done this once, but it did result in an additional surgery to repair.
It’s not that I don’t like my doctor, because I really do have a fabulous orthopedist (and I’m not just saying that because I know he’s reading this), but I just don’t have a need to go to the hospital that much. We have it covered. As far as painkillers, I never take narcotics, and it’s extremely rare that I take more than an ibuprofen or an Excedrine. My mother is a homeopathic veterinarian, so I get a lot of natural remedies from her that work better for me than most drugs do. I realize that’s not the best path for everyone, but it is for me.
If I wasn’t born to the parents I have, this blog post would be a very different one, I’m sure. I’m extremely lucky in that they had so much experience, plus it doesn’t hurt that my grandfather is a G.P. I hate hospitals so I’m so glad I don’t have to be in them often (knock on wood)!