"The hip, elbow and ankle are the most common locations for avulsion fractures in the young athlete. Treatment typically includes resting and icing the affected area "
This all began on Sunday, when the young athlete in question-my granddaughter, Emma-took it upon herself to take a flying leap from the top of a jungle gym at the Blanche Reynolds Park in her home town of Ventura, California.
Of course it was on a Sunday. Parents know that any time a young child falls ill or gets injured, it will be in the middle of the night and/or on a weekend or major holiday, when the doctor's office is closed.
The young athlete's mother-my daughter, Molly-was at the park with both of her children, Emma, 4-and-a-half, and Jack, who has just turned 3 years old.
"I am going to jump!" Emma no doubt announced, in the confident and perhaps somewhat provocative manner that has become her hallmark.
"No! Emma, don't jump!" Molly no doubt shouted, probably adding "You're up too high, and the ground is too hard!"
This last warning delivered as the young athlete launched herself out into thin air, briefly experienced the exhilaration of hurtling through space, and then came crashing to the earth, landing hard on one ankle. Her mother could tell immediately that it was bent wrong.
Until very recently, Emma's entire life has been spent in California during a time of drought. She is accustomed to playing in soft, powdery, dry sand. Lately, however, the weather has changed; it has been raining, and on this day the sand underneath the play structure was wet and packed down.
The young athlete, like her mother, has always been stoic about physical pain, and did not at first admit that she was hurt.
She was, in fact, defiant, claiming, "My daddy told me I could jump off the top!" In politics, this statement is what is currently labeled an alternate fact. Anyone who knows Emma's father knows that he would never in a million years say such a thing, and Emma knows this better than anyone. Nevertheless, she persisted.
Back at home, as her foot continued to swell, she still denied that she was hurt and tormented her mother by refusing to rest quietly. Molly got ahold of the doctor, who cautioned her not to bother bringing Emma to the emergency room, since she wouldn't be able to get a cast there even if it turned out she needed one, and she would be in danger of catching the flu from patients in the waiting room.
The next day, Monday, Emma had X-rays, and the doctor determined that she had an avulsion fracture, which occurs when a small piece of bone attached to a tendon or ligament gets pulled away from the main part of the bone. Ouch.
"Now do you see why I told you not to jump off the play structure?" Molly tried, once more, to reason with her daughter.
"I told you I could do it!" the young athlete said.
Molly, in true maternal fashion, can tell when Emma is in pain, and knows when and how to dose her with pediatric ibuprofen, which makes the young athlete's grandmother feel better.
On Monday, when I was speaking to Molly on the phone, she told me that the doctor said that in order to keep the weight off her injured foot, Emma must crawl, not walk. At this particular moment, she was supposed to be resting quietly, icing her ankle.
In the background, I heard the young athlete announce, "I'm doing gymnastics!"
Meanwhile, according to Molly, Jack was crawling around the room. Unlike his sister, Jack apparently feels that stoicism, while fine for the ancient Spartans, is over-rated in today's world.
Earlier that day, Jack complained that his ankle hurt. What happened? His parents asked. "I was jumping off the structure," he said.
Now, Molly said, Jack was holding a little toy shark, which was viciously attacking his foot.
"Mom, I can't talk any more right now," Molly told me. "I've got to get off the phone."
Today, Tuesday, the whole family will go with Emma to see the doctor, who will determine whether to put a traditional cast on her ankle or prescribe a removable gel cast. Molly's preference is for the traditional cast, because Emma will not be able to take it off.
How did my mother manage to bring up four of us?
Have a good week.