pulling the pin

Thursday, my younger son went back to the doctor about his arm. They sawed off the cast, which totally freaked my boy out. They had taken the first cast off when he was asleep, so neither of us had ever seen the cast taking-off process. I thought they’d cut it off with a giant pair of buzzing scissors, but instead they cut straight down through, with a vibrating blade: press down, break through, pop it back up, move to the next spot. As the woman sawed away, the machine screaming, my son leaned as far away from the machine as he could without failing off the table, his arm stretched out straight behind him, a look of terrified hilarity plastered on his face. I couldn’t stop giggling.

Then the x-rays…again. He’s healing most excellently. Lots of new bone growth.

And then it was time to take the pin out, whoo-hoo!

I was super excited about this. For days, I have been waking up disappointed because it wasn’t pin-removal day. I was all tingly excited to:

a) see what was under the cast (he’d been in a fair amount of pain over the last few days—said it felt like he had a worm in his arm, and my husband was like, “Yeah, a pin worm, ha-ha.”), and

b) to see how they’d pull the pin out (either straight-up yanking or local anesthesia).

Sometimes I think that, in another life, I might have been a doctor. I’m fascinated by emergencies and blood and how the body works, though not in any real serious sense. I don’t hold scientific facts in my head for more than three seconds, and I have no pressing need to do lab work, but I do adore the excitement of say, yanking three-inch long pins out of arms. So I guess it makes sense that I pushed our older son in the direction of emergency medicine? And that he immediately latched onto the idea? The intrigue must be genetic.


The doctor grabbed the end of the pin with a large pair of pliers and then twisted the pin gently back and forth to loosen it.

Bit by bit, the pin emerged…

And then, suddenly, it was all the way out, ta-da!

The sheer size of the pin made us both yelp.

It was huge!
And shiny clean!
And sharp at one end!
And huge!

The kid said the procedure hurt terribly—“like my arm was getting ripped off!”—but he didn’t make a peep, so I doubt it was that bad.

Before they put on the next cast, his third, I requested permission to wash the arm (they weren’t going to wash the arm, can you believe it?!), and then they slapped a band-aid over the hole and back into a cast his arm went.

Three more weeks with a hard cast and then (probably) a couple weeks of a soft cast.

The entertainment’s been great, but I’m about ready for this saga to be over.

This same time, years previous: reverberations, the quotidian (6.8.15), a photo book, delivery, thorns, strawberry daiquiri mix, fresh tomatillo salsa, white chocolate and dried cherry scones.


  • Eric

    You might have freaked out with the pin job a friend of mine had. He had his pelvis broken several places so he had multiple pins sticking out with a device fastened to them to keep things aligned. They were very large, very long SCREWS. He said they sent him on a fantastic trip while they removed them, local wouldn't have been enough. It wasn't a 30 second pull, they used a tool that looked a bit like a carpenter's hand drill to turn them out.

  • Rachelle

    When I was in high school (over 20 years ago now, yikes!), I broke my finger trying out for the softball team. It was so bad, they had to do surgery on it and I had two, smallish pins on either side of my finger. It's weird but it was so long ago now that I don't remember if it hurt much when they pulled them out but I do remember what my finger looked like with the pins sticking out of it.

    I don't even know why I was trying out. I'm not that much into sports. Peer pressure, I suppose.

  • Ernie

    Yikes, this is very, very timely. My 16 year old just broke his wrist playing basketball last week and had surgery with two pins in there to hold it together. I just read your blog for the first time. How did your son hurt his arm, wrist? My guy is so bummed because he had lots of sports and caddying planned for the summer months. This was the first day of summer. I haven't finished writing the post about his ordeal but it will be up soon on my blog . . . http://www.nosmallfeetblog.com. His mishap was the third uncomfortable event in our family in the same week. I was exhausted by the end of it all, and wondered what to expect next. Hope his healing process continues!

  • Joy

    Ok, so I'm guessing that because I saw bright spots on the edge of my vision and felt woozy as I read about the pin removal, it's good that I'm NOT in emergency medicine.

Leave a Comment