I slid the last plate into the already overfull dishwasher, and was about to bend down to grab the box of dishwasher soap from below our sink. My girls were playing in the living room, nicely I might add. :)
From the living room, I heard a loud, cracking sound. My head swiveled to the left to find the source of that sound. My mommy radar kicked into overdrive, and the adrenaline starting pumping. I knew it was a sound I didn't really want to hear. It certainly wasn't a sound of say, a ball being tossed against a wall by my mischievous five and three year olds. It wasn't to be ignored or dismissed. It was an "oh shit" sound.
The loud cracking sound was coupled with an oh-my-GOD I really, really, really hurt myself bad, Mommy, screaming. I knew it was Gracie as the scream morphed into, "Owie! Owie! Owie! Owie! It hurts. It hurts. It hurts."
My hands were still dripping with water, and I had to maneuver around the open dishwasher to get to Grace. By the time I stumbled past the dishwasher, Gracie was rounding the corner into the kitchen to find me. Her right hand was pressed against her right eye and eyebrow.
I was startled to see blood dripping from in between her fingers. Drops of blood were splashing down on the floor and onto her shirt.
I swiveled back around again and headed for the paper towels. In about .2 seconds, I ran some cold water on the wad of paper towels, and somehow hovered my way back to Grace. I began to shout, "I need help in here. I need help in here. Charlie, help!" I moved Grace's hand away from her eye, and smashed the wet wad of toweling in the spot where her hand had been. I knew I had to put pressure on it.
"It hurts so bad, Mommy! It hurts! It hurts!"
My left hand grabbed a chair from our kitchen table and spun it around. "Grace, sit down honey! Let me help you!"
"It hurts so, so, so baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad, Mommy. When will it stop huuuuuuurting?"
My mind flashed back to when I cut off a portion of the tip of my left index finger in a grape cutting incident. I'll never forget that pain. I wondered if she was feeling that pain, too.
"I don't know when it will stop Grace." As I inspected her forehead, a raised purple contusion was forming from her hair line down her forehead to the edge of the paper toweling. What was underneath, I didn't know.
"I don't know when it will stop hurting Grace. I need to see what happened." Thankfully, I was standing in front of our fridge so I used my free hand to grab an ice pack from the freezer.
"My eye is bleeeeeeding Mommy."
"Let me see Grace."
At this point, Charlie, Kesa, and Meghan entered the kitchen. I lifted the wad of toweling a little to see what was happening, but Grace squirmed and buried her chin into her left shoulder so I wouldn't be able to see the injury. The bump was forming on Grace's head right before my eyes, and I knew I had to get ice on it.
I still needed to see where the blood was coming from. My mind was racing with internal split second anxiety and decision-making. "Is she right? Is her eye really bleeding? Oh God, I don't want to look at that. I really don't want to see an eye injury. If there is anything I don't want to see in life, it is an eye injury. That is like my Achilles heel. Back to reality Jen! Focus!"
"What happened?" came out of the mouth of my husband, Charlie.
Kesa answered. I don't remember what she said. I may have even contributed but in my mind, it didn't matter what happened. Gracie needed help.
Grace fretted, "It was an accident! I didn't do it on purpose." Charlie opened a drawer and pulled out a towel. He darted to the freezer door and stuffed ice cubes into the towel.
"We know honey. Don't worry. You're not in trouble Gracie." Huge tears were flowing from Grace's eyes. Her face was bright red, and drops of sweat were forming on her face and neck. Then, she began to tremble.
Racing thoughts again, "Oh crap! She is getting shocky."
"Kesa, please get me Grace's blue blankie, an animal, and her pillow! It will help her feel better." My mind was instructing me. It knew that you need to keep a shocky person warm so the blanket would help with that. Never mind that it was like 86 degrees outside at this point, but we were in the air conditioning.
"I think we need to take her in."
"To the urgent care!"
I motioned to Charlie, and mouthed to him, "I don't want to look! I don't want to look! This is bad."
I lifted the toweling away from her face. Blood streamed down her face from a puncture-like wound about the size of a pencil eraser. It was deep, it was directly above her eye brow, and it startled me. I felt myself shaking, but it was the adrenaline. I quickly clamped my hand back against her forehead to apply pressure.
Charlie came close to Grace, but he saw the blood. As he turned away, he gripped the counter top and leaned on it. His head bowed toward the flat surface, and I knew the blood was too much for him. Honestly, it was hard for me, and some of my friends call me the intern because I love most things medical.
"We've got to take her to the ER. This is bad, Charlie." Charlie wasn't quite convinced yet, since he hadn't been able to see it. He mustered up the courage, and I moved the toweling again. Blood seeped out of the wound quickly. My mind was made up. It was time to go. Time to take Grace for real help, from real interns.
Charlie glanced at it, and said, "No, it's fine. She just needs some ice."
Mommy radar beep, beep, beeeeeepppping in my head. By this time, I also noticed she had a bruise forming below her eye on her cheek bone. "No, it's not fine. We're going. Kesa, can you stay with Meghan please? The chicken will be done in 10 minutes. Take it out when it beeps and turn off the oven." Charlie left to bring the minivan around to the front of house, and I began to think about what might help Gracie feel a teensy bit better. Kesa helped by gathering fruit snacks and juice boxes because we hadn't eaten dinner yet. I thought Grace would be hungry during the long wait at the urgent care.
Gracie continued to shake uncontrollably all the while telling me it, in essence, hurt like hell. As we approached the front door, I looked to my right to see Kesa holding a crying, squirming Meghan. I was so engrossed in Grace that I didn't hear that Meghan was upset too. A brief moment of regret for Meghan flashed in my thoughts, and I knew I had to say good bye to Meghan. She'd be a wreck if I left without giving her a hug. Meggie darted across the living room. "I, I wanna come too."
"Sorry honey, you have to stay with Kesa. Gracie has a bad owie and we need to get her some help. See you later Meggie. Love you..."
We walked out to the car with me holding the toweling to Grace's wound.
Grace wailed, "I don't wanna go! I don't wanna go! I don't wanna go to the hospital."
Gracie continued to become more and more upset about having to go the hospital. “I don’t want to go to the hospital! I don’t want to go! I wanna lay down in my bed. I don’t want to go.” Whether fortunate or unfortunate, I had in past conversations told her on many occasions that she needed to be more careful otherwise, she’d end up so hurt that she’d need to go to the hospital. Grace is THE clumsiest person I know. I know 5-year olds are clumsy, but if I looked up clumsy in the dictionary, Grace’s picture would appear there. I chalk some of that up to her former preemie beginnings, though. In any case, if I had placed odds on which of my daughters would end up in the ER first, Grace would have been the one, and well, she did it.
Grace was able to walk, but she seemed a little disoriented. I think it was because she was in intense pain, but did consider it might be a concussion. We’d have to find out.
Gracie climbed into her car seat, while I was still holding the paper toweling in place. At one point, she pulled away from me, and the bleeding wasn’t so profound. This allowed me to climb into the back of our minivan with her. I knelt on the floor next to her chair, and replaced the paper toweling with a dark blue kitchen towel that Charlie had run under cold water and wrapped around an ice pack. We finally got ice on her head.
“That’s too cold Mommy! It huuuuurts!”
I kept thinking, “I know it hurts. Let me help you kid!” My frustration with the situation and not really being able to make it feel better, made me a lot less patient and my tone was at best witchy. I reminded myself to keep it together, though.
“I don’t wanna go! I don’t wanna go! It huuuurts! I want to sleep in my bed. I want to lay down.”
“Gracie, we’re not going to stay overnight at the hospital. You’ll get to come home later honey.” At least, I hoped. I kept wondering if a concussion might get her admitted. Charlie turned on Grace’s favorite pre-school soundtrack, and Phil Collins’ voice squawked through the speakers. It was a Lion King track.
“No music Daddy! No music Daddy!” Charlie didn’t hear her though. He seemed to have gone to his “happy place” while driving. I shouted toward the front of the van, “Charlie, Grace requests no music, please.” “Oh!” Silence came again. Grace then seemed to calm down for a minute or two. She focused on things passing by the window on her left. I relaxed a bit, but then my hand moved a bit on Grace’s forehead.
“Oooooow! That hurts Mommy.”
“Sorry Grace, my arm is getting tired.”
It seemed to take forever to get to our local urgent care center. Amazingly, my mind had again instructed me to remember that it was dinner time, prime time at the closest ER. So, we remembered to go to the urgent care center, which was farther away by 5 minutes, but would probably get her seen more quickly.
Finally, we made the right turn into the urgent care parking lot. Grace’s indignation at going to the hospital revved up again. “I don’t wanna go to the hospital. I don’t wanna. I’m scared! I’m scared! I’m scared!”
“Gracie, Mommy and Daddy will stay with you the whole time. They’ll make it stop hurting with some medicine and then we’ll get to go home. C’mon Grace. Let’s go.”
Charlie left to park the car. To me, it was time to bring down the Mommy “hammer” since Grace was rapidly getting out of control. “Grace, listen to me! Look at me please! You need help. Mommy can’t make this better without some help from the hospital doctors.” I heard myself yelling, and dialed it down a notch.
“Gracie, you’re coming with Mommy. Let’s go inside, and make it feel better.” Large tears began to flow out of her eyes, and she began to tremble in fear. All that I wanted to do was make it feel better, but she was in so much pain that there wasn’t any reasoning with her. I don’t know why I thought I could reason with someone in pain. It just doesn’t work, but I wasn’t of sound mind at that point either.
Reluctantly, Grace shuffled her feet while crying out loud, “No, I don’t wanna go to the hospital!”
As I approached the desk, a woman asked me Grace’s name and date of birth. I slowly spelled our very complicated German last name, “B as in boy, A, U, E, R, N as in Nancy, F as in Frank…”
“Have a seat.”
I guided Gracie to a chair and made her lean back. She seemed overwrought and was ramping up to loud crying again. “I don’t wanna be here. I wantttt toooo goooo home!” Her words all ran together.
Charlie walked in, “How long?”
I quipped, “I don’t know.” Charlie walked off toward the desk again to inquire on time. When he returned, I noticed that a bathroom was close by. “Grace, do you need to go potty?” “Uh huh, I havta go.” I needed to go badly, too.
As she slowly stood up, I made sure to keep the ice on her head. The bleeding had begun to subside a bit so I could lessen the pressure. That fact made me feel a bit better.
When we arrived in the bathroom, I noticed the mirror on the wall, and made sure that Grace wouldn’t get a look at it. I don’t know about your experiences, but most kids I know have a field day “boo-hooing” their eyes out in the mirror when they are upset. Plus, I didn’t want her to get a big shock at what it looked like.
She must have been reading my mind. “I wanna see it Mommy. I wanna see.”
“Are you sure Gracie? It is pretty scary.”
She moved around me and inspected it in the mirror. “Oh no! It hurts so bad Mommy.” Tears began flowing again, and it did exactly what I thought it would do to her. She began to lose it again.
“Gracie, listen to me. Mommy and Daddy are going to let the doctors help you. We won’t leave you. Mommy will talk to you the entire time the doctors are helping you. Let’s go back and sit down again.”
“I don’t wanna see a doctor. I wanna go home.”
While we were gone, they called Grace’s name. Charlie said, “They passed us up.”
“The called her name and passed us up. Some other kid got to go back there.” My face turned red hot. It was odd to be embarrassed at that point, but the kid had to go potty. What was I supposed to do? Let her wet herself. Honestly, I think I felt bad about urging her to go to the bathroom. Had I delayed her getting proper pain management? Thankfully, about 5 minutes later, they called her name again.
We walked Grace into an assessment area where a nurse Pat did a history and updated her contact information. Gracie got weighed, had her temperature taken, as well as had a blood pressure check. My eyes perked up when I saw a reading of 124/77. That is high blood pressure for a kid. It made me understand how much it hurt as well as how scared she was. Poor baby.
The nurse asked, “Grace, look at these pictures. Which picture shows how much it hurts you?” Grace pointed to a #6 on the pain scale.
By now, a ½ hour had passed since she hurt herself, and she was still a 6/10 on the pain scale. My heart hurt, and Charlie seemed to take notice too. We finally were moved into a room, and told to remove the ice from her head. The bleeding from her wound was mostly slowed down, but I had to wipe drips away every few minutes.
There was TV in the room, so we turned on So You Think You Can Dance and Grace passed the time by coloring. Periodically, she would cry or tell us it hurt. She had finally found a calming place though. Coloring helped to distract her, although she seemed to focus a little too closely on not having the right color crayons. I showed her how to mix the colors together to make the color she wanted, but didn’t have readily available. I noticed that I was pacing a bit.
40 minutes later, a tall, thin woman doctor appeared. (I found out later she was really a physician’s assistant.) She seemed to be near my age, but probably younger and had long, blond hair pulled into a pony tail at the base of her neck. She assessed Grace’s injury, assessed whether she was concussed, and immediately indicated it would need stitches. Grace was so focused on her coloring, that she didn’t hear it at first. I was relieved to hear that stitches would be placed. I knew that wound was not good, and it made me feel a bit vindicated at bringing her to the urgent care.
I’m probably in the minority, but I try to be a good consumer of health care services. We’ve used them so much in the past due to my severe preeclampsia, the girls’ stays in NICU, and their Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency. I know we haven’t paid in what we’ve taken out of the health care/insurance systems. Anyway, I just didn’t want them to say, “Ice it and go home.” That would have sent me over the edge.
Meanwhile, Grace’s wound kept oozing blood, and the bruise was in full Technicolor now. The fact that she hadn’t had her 5-year old pictures taken yet crossed my mind. We’d be waiting for quite a while for that bruise to disappear.
From the doctor came, “What color stitches would you like Grace? How about blue?”
“No stitches! I don’t want stitches. Nooooooooooooooooooooooo!”
On the inside, I was thinking, “Oh crap, here we go again. Grace is ramping up to full on panic again. I’d better talk her down.”
“Gracie, the stitches will help you feel better. They won’t hurt. They’ll give you medicine so you won’t feel them fixing your owie.”
Charlie said, “Gracie, the medicine will make you feel better.”
It didn’t matter what we said, she was fully panicked. There was no bringing her back to calm again. The doctor/nurse left to gather the necessary materials, and during that time I walked Grace through what would happen. I figured I’d better tell her so it wouldn’t be a surprise, but I left out the part about the numbing shots and the papoose board. I know. I know. It was spin control at its very worst. The nurse brought in a papoose board so they could strap her down for the procedure.
“Gracie, this is a big hug,” came out of the nurse’s mouth. I thought, “That is a torture device. I’d be insane if I was in that thing.” I knew it was necessary though. Gracie wasn’t going to cooperate. She was going to fight us every step of the way.
Grace cried, “Nooooooooooooooooooo! No! No! No! I wanna go home now.” Knives felt as if they were stabbing this mother’s heart. I’m sure Charlie felt the same way. I picked up Grace like a baby, kissed her left cheek, told her I was so proud of her, and placed her on the papoose board. Grace sat up, and tried to bolt, but we held her in place. The nurse and doctor folded the large blue flaps down on Grace, and fastened the Velcro down. Grace could no longer move most of her body…just her feet and her neck/head. “It’s toooooo tight! It’s toooooo tight! Nooooo!” Daggers were now piercing my heart, but it had to be. It had to happen. She needed those stitches, but that papoose/straight jacket thing was like a medieval torture device. At that moment, I wondered if we should have gone to our local Children’s Hospital ER instead. “Would they have put her on that board, too?”
Thankfully, the nurse and doctor had quickly begun their work. I faced Gracie so she could look at me. “It is tooooooooooooo bright in here. I need sun glasses, Mommy.” The procedure light was very bright, so I shielded her eyes with my hand when I could. I didn’t want to disturb their work though. Charlie had wrapped his arms around Grace’s feet and ankles. His hand stroked Grace’s lower leg in an attempt to help Grace calm down.
The doctor grabbed some sort of paper/towel thing with a hole cut out in it, and placed it over Grace’s face. “Hold the end of it up so she can see your face, Mom.” I thought, “Okay, I can do this. I can help in a more productive way. Good.”
I watched as they injected the numbing agents about 5-6 times. Grace screamed in terror. I remembered that numbing agent from my finger cutting accident. It really stings. “Owwwwwwwwwww! Nooooooooooooooo!” It seemed the tide of pain was overcoming Gracie. She was hitting the wall then…
She was silent. Her eyes closed, and her body relaxed. For a second, I thought she had passed out. I said, “Gracie, are you okay?”
“Uh huh. It doesn’t hurt anymore.”
The doctor said, “She went to her happy place.”
I felt a calm come over me, too. It seemed Grace and I were locked into a symbiotic link between her physical pain and my emotional pain. Charlie said, “Grace, you are almost done.” He stood up and I said, “Stay where you are Charlie. It is not done yet.” Meaning, don’t move Chuck! There is too much blood for your liking. Trust me.
“Grace, I’m so proud of you honey. You are doing a great job.” By now, the doctor was stitching the wound closed. At first, I thought I didn’t want to watch the stitching, but then my morbid curiosity took over. It was actually not bad at all to watch, as long as I knew Gracie wasn’t in pain. Yes, my “intern-like” persona’s interests were piqued. LOL
Three electric blue stitches later, it was all over. The nurse placed a gauze pad over the stitches with some tape. I said, “Gracie, we are so proud of you honey. You did a great job listening and staying still. Now, we can take you out of the hug.” She was excited to hear that news. Charlie and I pulled on the Velcro and it released with a loud noise. Gracie squirmed to stretch herself.
I exhaled deeply. I hadn’t realized that I was holding my breath through most of it.
“I feel better now Mommy.” I helped her down off the table, and gave her a small stuffed puppy dog along with her very special Hello Kitty pillow. She clutched them like they were gold. We would need to wait a few minutes for the discharge papers so Grace sat down in a chair.
She began to shake. “Why am I shaking Mommy?”
“You went through a rough time Gracie. It is okay you are shaking. Let’s put your blankie on you for a while.” Gracie cuddled into the blanket, and was returned to being the Gracie I know and love. We were all relieved. It was over. We were instructed to wake Grace up once during the night as well as watch her stitches for signs of infection. Otherwise, we could bring her to her pediatrician to have the stitches removed in 3-5 days.
A Happy Meal later in the drive-through, Gracie was back at home with us. Meghan was still in her bed at 10:00 p.m. crying for Mommy. Kesa and Shanna were pleased to see us, as Meghan was quite distraught that Grace had been hurt and her Mom and Dad weren’t home. My focus changed to Meghan since I knew Grace was finally going to start the healing process. Thank God for medical care, although I’m still not sure about that “hug” papoose board.
The bruise is simply put, amazingly bad already. It is from her hair line down to the cut above her right eye, and then reemerges below her eye down to her cheek bone. My best guess is that it is at least 3-4 inches long and about 1 inch wide.
She is healing, and hopefully, I’ll heal my emotional wound from this soon.
(In case you are wondering, Grace simply tripped on "air" in our living room. On her way down to the ground, she hit her knee and got a bad rug burn too. Then, her head crashed into an archway on the way into our dining room. So, essentially, it was where two walls come together to form a corner. She left a baseball sized hole in the wall. Guess, we have some repairing to do, but I'm glad she is already on the mend.)