Charlotte’s Confidence

“My elbow is in the wrong place.” still echoes in my ears. Charlotte was playing on a big hill while “watching” her sister’s soccer game. She was turning perfect cartwheels and made it to the bottom with elite form. But, the ditch at the bottom of the hill got her. Her foot fell in and her arm went out to break the fall.

Charlotte and I both knew something was very wrong. We never stopped to look at her arm or get the opinion of the 20 other soccer parents on the sideline; we headed straight for Nationwide Children’s Hospital for an expert’s opinion.

Our initial diagnosis was a dislocated and broken elbow. But loss of feeling and extreme swelling earned us an overnight stay and daily follow up conversations with the orthopedic team. Fifteen days, three casts, four appointments and two MRIs later we learned Charlotte’s true diagnosis: medial epicondyle fracture of her elbow with median nerve complications…and we were scheduled for surgery within 72 hours.

Dr. Popp took special care of our girl during the almost four-hour repair job. During the post surgery consult he described the long road we had to full recovery, IF full recovery was even possible. We could expect 9-12 months before feeling and mobility would be restored to her dominate hand, if it was restored at all. In the meantime, Charlotte would need school and home accommodations while she relearned to button, tie shoes, hold a pencil, brush her teeth, eat with utensils and get dressed–she could only wear her easy-on Xavier Tillman, Michigan State Basketball jersey so many times in one week. Certainly, her true love, gymnastics, was not even a consideration.

We met our Nationwide hand therapist Bre shortly after this news. Bre and Charlotte clicked immediately, and Bre understood Charlotte’s passion and determination to exceed all expectations. Bre and Charlotte were confident she would write for herself, use a fork, button her own pants and most importantly, compete this gymnastics season. As a team, we celebrated the tiniest movement of her thumb and finger in late September. We celebrated a 20% increase in bending and straightening the elbow in October. We celebrated no cast or splint in November. Most importantly, we celebrated the intense twinges of pain in Charlotte’s forearm in December, for these pains meant the nerves were repaired and working. The surgery was declared a success!

The muscle atrophy was intense from no natural movement for more than five months. But Bre made strengthening fun. She motivated Charlotte to do her exercises with perfect form, to do her “homework” each day and to give up normal 8 year old activities to spend up to 3 hours a week at therapy. This work ethic became even stronger while following her favorite sports figure Tillman through his season. His jersey became her personal symbol for toughness & determination, and Bre became more than just a therapist: she was her cheerleader and motivator.

In March, Charlotte competed with her team in their final gymnastics meet. She competed on all four events earning a state qualifying all-around score. She is back doing the things she loves because of the amazing care of our team at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

https://flutter.nationwidechildrens.org/wp-content/uploads/gravity_forms/4-ede9f44fbfc12d4ad796078917b471d6/2019/04/53739856_10157150503634269_3846116013540114432_n.jpg

“My elbow is in the wrong place.” still echoes in my ears. Charlotte was playing on a big hill while “watching” her sister’s soccer game. She was turning perfect cartwheels and made it to the bottom with elite form. But, the ditch at the bottom of the hill got her. Her foot fell in and her arm went out to break the fall.

Charlotte and I both knew something was very wrong. We never stopped to look at her arm or get the opinion of the 20 other soccer parents on the sideline; we headed straight for Nationwide Children’s Hospital for an expert’s opinion.

Our initial diagnosis was a dislocated and broken elbow. But loss of feeling and extreme swelling earned us an overnight stay and daily follow up conversations with the orthopedic team. Fifteen days, three casts, four appointments and two MRIs later we learned Charlotte’s true diagnosis: medial epicondyle fracture of her elbow with median nerve complications…and we were scheduled for surgery within 72 hours.

Dr. Popp took special care of our girl during the almost four-hour repair job. During the post surgery consult he described the long road we had to full recovery, IF full recovery was even possible. We could expect 9-12 months before feeling and mobility would be restored to her dominate hand, if it was restored at all. In the meantime, Charlotte would need school and home accommodations while she relearned to button, tie shoes, hold a pencil, brush her teeth, eat with utensils and get dressed–she could only wear her easy-on Xavier Tillman, Michigan State Basketball jersey so many times in one week. Certainly, her true love, gymnastics, was not even a consideration.

We met our Nationwide hand therapist Bre shortly after this news. Bre and Charlotte clicked immediately, and Bre understood Charlotte’s passion and determination to exceed all expectations. Bre and Charlotte were confident she would write for herself, use a fork, button her own pants and most importantly, compete this gymnastics season. As a team, we celebrated the tiniest movement of her thumb and finger in late September. We celebrated a 20% increase in bending and straightening the elbow in October. We celebrated no cast or splint in November. Most importantly, we celebrated the intense twinges of pain in Charlotte’s forearm in December, for these pains meant the nerves were repaired and working. The surgery was declared a success!

The muscle atrophy was intense from no natural movement for more than five months. But Bre made strengthening fun. She motivated Charlotte to do her exercises with perfect form, to do her “homework” each day and to give up normal 8 year old activities to spend up to 3 hours a week at therapy. This work ethic became even stronger while following her favorite sports figure Tillman through his season. His jersey became her personal symbol for toughness & determination, and Bre became more than just a therapist: she was her cheerleader and motivator.

In March, Charlotte competed with her team in their final gymnastics meet. She competed on all four events earning a state qualifying all-around score. She is back doing the things she loves because of the amazing care of our team at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

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