Mulch Happens

David VogeleerApr 04 · 2 min read

picture of mulch with the word ouch written over it

I have a 5-year old son with red hair and he earns every strand of it. Not a day goes by that I don’t hear a loud bang from somewhere in the house immediately followed by a small voice yelling, “I’m OK!” I’ve learned not to worry too much about it. He plays soccer, attempts basketball, is learning to ride a bike, and enjoys an occasional trampoline. He gets bumps, bruises, and scratches all the time, as do most of his friends, but had yet to get into anything serious. Then I got an odd call from his pre-school.

“Hey, this is David’s teacher. I just wanted to let you know David was playing outside on the playground and fell into a pile of mulch, and he’s sad and complaining about his arm.”

As any good parent of a young boy does, I rolled my eyes at what I was sure was some over-dramatic response to losing a game of tag and headed to the school to check him out. When I got there, he was indeed sad and cradling his arm in an odd way. He could move it but winced when the angle went past a certain point, so I opted to take him to the doctor to get a medical opinion. His doctor thought it might be nursemaid’s elbow, a common occurrence in young kids where a ligament slips out of place in the arm and gets caught between 2 bones. She did this crazy arm maneuver that I don’t recommend you googling, and declared “Well, that’s not it.”

Next step, a visit to the orthopedic specialist a mile down the road for x-rays and further evaluation. Their conclusion was simple, he broke his arm. He had fallen in a pile of mulch designed specifically to prevent injury and had broken his arm. They fixed him with a hard splint and sent us home with an appointment to get a cast the next day.

David in his cast
little boy smiling looking at his red arm cast

All in, my son’s misstep on the playground got him 5 doctor visits, 2 x-rays, 1 hard splint, and 3 different casts added up to some serious medical costs. And no matter how much you tell a 5-year old that the tiny but loud saw coming at his arm to take the cast off won’t hurt, they simply will not believe you.

Thankfully we had good insurance and still do because this won’t be the last pickup from school I make, I’m sure. Whether it’s a fall off the monkey bars, a missed slide tackle on the field, or a small fall landing just the wrong way, these things have always and will always happen. The price of being a kid, I guess.

Here are a few tips that will make any parent’s life easier if their kid gets injured:

  • Have your kid’s insurance card on you at all times. It just makes a stressful process slightly less stressful.
  • Be patient. Healthcare is not designed to make kids comfortable, and they won’t be.
  • Straight up bribery for things like x-rays or casts works. The cost of a lollipop before dinner is nothing compared to having to do the same x-ray over and over again because your kid can’t be still.
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