Where the inside of my mind leaks onto the screen.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Days Since Last Accident: 1

I stood in the school bathroom with worried fifth graders surrounding me.  Someone had, of course, gone to get Mrs. Casdorph, and I was silently grateful to know my mom was somewhere in the building. I wondered if I was about to be in trouble as well as injured; if I hadn't been where my mom had asked me not to be, my blood would not be covering the sink and counter.

Technically, if I hadn't accepted a dare from the 5th grade students who were a year older and probably a foot taller than me, my lip wouldn't be punctured and bleeding, either.  But mom would be sure to point out that my first misstep was in ignoring her specific instructions not to go out to the playground with her 5th grade students after school.  This wasn't the first time I had done so since receiving the instructions to the contrary, but it was the first time she was going to know about.

She entered the restroom, dismissed the onlookers, and started to clean up the mess I had made.  She didn't seem angry, just a mixture of calm concern and disappointment.  I explained my injury.  It had been easy to stand on the ladder that ascended to the monkey bars and jump to catch the third rung.  But the 5th grade students were catching the fourth rung.  At their insistence, I attempted the feat despite knowing I was probably too small to accomplish it successfully.  My fingertips had just barely made contact, altering my body's momentum and angle such that I found myself parallel with the ground and falling quickly toward it.  Lacking the self preservation skills that would, four years later, have helped me choose flight instead of fight when faced with a falling piano, I did not get my hands down in front of my face.  Rather, I met the gravel playground base head-on.  Or more accurately, chin-on.  My mom couldn't be certain whether the injuries connected, but I was definitely bleeding from both the inside and outside of my lower lip, and she was concerned that my teeth may have gone straight through.

The doctors determined that I had two separate lacerations.  The outer appeared to be cuts caused by the rocks I'd collided with, and they were superficial enough to heal on their own.  The inner, however, were deeper ruts cut by my front teeth and would require two stitches to kick start the healing process.  Both, it turned out, would scar.

 I was about eight at the time, which would have made Lisa four and Michelle two.  That means my mom had 14 child-years of being a mom before her first emergency visit.

Now, with nine-year-old Adam, seven-year-old Alex, and four-year-old Dylan, I am 20 child-years into motherhood (of three boys, no less), and have officially completed my first emergency room visit for a child's nearly identical injury.

Grandma and Grandpa Casdorph had ended up in Arizona for just a couple of days, so we had arranged to meet them at Great Grandpa's pool for an afternoon.  We'd been playing for nearly two hours, going through the usual cycle of pool fun: tag, underwater breathing contests, and impressive jumps off the waterfall area (approximately a 3 foot jump).  Dylan had been showing Grandma what a fish he has turned into.  He can swim!  Not only that, but he's comfortable "sinking" now - going under the water with the confidence that his body will help him pop back up.  This has freed him to jump from the waterfall without the hindrance of the pool noodle he had been using to keep afloat.  He did several forward facing jumps, coached by the adults on how to land feet first instead of doing a belly flop over and over again.  I did a few back dives, trying to teach Adam the skill.  Dylan wanted to try, too.  I told him he wasn't going to be quite big enough for that trick, so he asked if he could just jump backward.

I was a little worried.  He has a huge noggin which means pretty much any motion he tries ends up with his face forward.  This is not a great position for jumping into a pool backwards.  But I let him try it, and he was proudly successful.  He scrambled out of the pool and lined himself up to try again, all smiles.  As I was explaining to my mom the reservations I harbored and concern about how he might land face first on the cement, he lined up to jump again.  And something went wrong.  A foot slipped out from underneath him, and I watched him enact the exact scenario I had just described.  Grandma and I both quickly swam to him, my mom getting there first and pulling him out of the water.  Blood streamed down his face and into the water.  I took him in my arms, and we were soon both a bloody mess.  I carried him to grass and began an inspection the best I could but able to see little through all the blood and tears.

Grandma started to clean him up, much to the dismay of Grandpa who had gone to get his cell phone camera.  He asked Dylan if he could please bleed a little more so he could get a picture with the blood running all the way to Dylan's belly button since Grandma had wiped that all up.  Dylan laughed, and he put all his tears behind him.  He lay perfectly still and calm as I determined that there were cuts both inside and out, that I couldn't be certain if it went straight through, and that I would be taking him to a doctor.

Dylan relaxed with my sunglasses while I made the inquiries necessary to locate a covered facility in the Mesa area, and then we headed off to the Banner Desert Hospital, only 8 miles from Great Grandpa's home.  Upon arrival I discovered that this hospital has both a traditional ER and a separate children's ER, a fact for which I would soon be grateful.

The facility had Where's Waldo murals in each patient room and cartoons on tv everywhere we went.  The staff spoke directly to Dylan whenever they entered a room, and only after he appeared comfortable did they speak with me.  His nurse's approach, in particular impressed me.  "Hi, Dylan," he began.  "I am so sorry you are hurt.  My name is (I can't remember), and I am here to help you feel better.  And guess what, I brought you a sticker!  Do you like stickers?"  He overheard me call Dylan by his nickname, Dyl-Pickle, and he referred to him as nothing else for the rest of our stay.  It was so comforting to be in a place who knew how to translate their medical jargon into kid speak, informing Dylan of everything as it happened.  I asked him later if he had been scared at all, and he looked at me like I was crazy when he responded with an emphatic, "No..."

Cleaned up a bit and resting before his procedure

As it turned out, he did not bite all the way through.  His injuries were the opposite of mine, though, with the inner being shallow and the outer being deep.  I mean... deep.  I saw it as they pulled it back to investigate, and I didn't even know that the piece of skin leading from chin to lip was so thick.  It took 8 stitches to patch him up, and he endured the ordeal awake but loopy from the calming gas they'd given him.  He didn't whine or cry at any point until the effects of the gas had worn off and he processed the instructions that he wouldn't be allowed to swim for a week.

Stitched up and drugged up
We got to stay at the hospital for an exciting extra hour, because Dylan refused to come out of the effects of the gas.  He was too wobbly and giggly for them to release him, so I got to read a few extra chapters of the book I brought along while I waited for him to recover.  All said, we spent 5 hours in the ER before returning to greet his anxious brothers.  I was happy to see Adam and Alex engaged in a game of Phase 10 with Brett and Lisa, their minds clearly distracted from their worry.  When I told them Dylan wouldn't be allowed to swim, Adam looked at Dylan with concern, stretched out a hand to touch him affectionately, and announced, "Then I won't swim, either," to which Alex added, "Me too."

Since dismissal from the hospital, Dylan has needed no pain medication, has slept through the night, and seems happy and positive.  And we have officially ended our injury-free streak.