Posts Tagged ‘injury’

Kids are tough!

November 23, 2010

Kids are tough. They just take whatever life hands out and keep on keepin’ on. When I was at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in 1977 for my second heart surgery, I met not one, but two perfect examples.

UAB had a playroom near my room, and it was the perfect destination. The “Adult” waiting room was right across the hall, so the folks would walk down there whenever the hospital room began to make them crazy. I’d go along too. I was 10/almost 11, and even though I was one of the older kids I could hang out and break up the boredom. Patients get a little bit crazy, too, you see. One of my first times down there I was trying to talk to one of the other kids – who wanted nothing to do with me – when this other little fellow ran up and asked “Mister – ”

What’s with this “Mister? I thought.

“Mister, can you fix this for me?” I had no idea but I took a look at the toy he offered. Turned out to be nothing; someone had put the battery in backwards but he was too young to figure that out. Thirty seconds later the toy was running and I was popular! I could fix things, and that was an important skill to have.

A couple of days later I was in the playroom and in walked a Mother we had met. Her child had an unexplained illness and no one had figured out what it was yet. Billy (I can’t remember many names from that trip to UAB, I guess too much time has gone by. So we’re going to call this young man Billy) was feeling better, would we mind if he came down to the playroom?

Certainly! Everyone needs to get away from the hospital bed every now and again, bring him on down! She left, and in a few moments she was back with Billy.

Billy was up and moving around but he was connected to an IV pole. That’s an common sight, but the needle led to a tape covered area of his head. Holy Mackerel, this kid has an IV in his skull, but it didn’t seem to bother him much. The biggest problem was when he was playing and got too far away from the IV. His line would go taut and pull him back, and Billy would have remember to pull the IV pole along with him. If that had been me, I’d have thrown screaming fits whenever someone mentioned the words “IV” and “head” in the same breath. Holy Cow, kids are tough.

Another person I met was Phil (another made-up name, I hate to say). Phil was a six-year-old with a growth on his spine and was scheduled for back surgery about the time I was having my heart surgery. By the time I saw Phil again, the playroom was off-limits (possibility of too many germs) but it was still a destination. That first week of recovery I’d walk from my new room to the playroom, turn around, and head back to my room.

I was just starting back towards my room when Phil came into my view, riding a Big Wheel. He was having fun, tried to pull a wheelie… and went over, landing flat on his back. Right on his incision!

Youch! His mom came running over, yanked him to his feet, and snatched his shirt up. I expected the worst, but his incision looked just as healthy as mine. Not only was he not hurt, but Phil wasn’t paying mom any attention. He was looking to get back on his Big Wheel and try again! Unfortunately (or thankfully!) Phil’s racing career was over, per order of his mother.

Kids are tough… it’s the adults who can’t take it!

MRI + Metal = bad things!

February 1, 2010

I can’t have an MRI because of my pacemaker. In fact, when I was Duke Children’s Hospital for the Saving Little Hearts CHD Symposium, one of the doctors reminded me to avoid MRIs and implied that it might not be safe for me to even be on the same floor as the MRI scanner!

MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging, and the magnets are large – often weighing in at over one ton. The rule is simple: No metal is allowed in the MRI room. When the rule is broken, bad things happen:

Patient A was wheeled directly into the MRI room… and the metal wheelchair-gurney was immediately forcibly attracted by the magnet against the outer core of the magnet housing, crushing the left lower extremity of Patient A and trapping the patient between the magnet and the wheelchair-gurney.


I have no idea what would happen if I were to enter an MRI suite – would I be pinned to the side of the MRI until someone deactivated the magnet, or would it literally be ripped out of my body? I don’t know, and I don’t want to find out! Either way, they use a small magnet to communicate with your pacemaker, so at the very least you will have to have it examined and reset. If that is all that happens, consider yourself lucky – it almost certainly will itself be magnetized and you’ll have to get it replaced.

So when they ask about metal, don’t forget to mention your pacemaker… and your sternum wires!