Well, the last place I expected to be tonight was the ER. But I suppose everyone who has an emergency thinks that. That's why they call them emergencies, right? So, here's a narrative retelling of our adventurous night:
It was about 3:30 in the afternoon. I had just put Josh down for a nap, played "school" with Sam (taught him the sounds of letters and some minor addition problems), then put him in front of Toy Story 2 and was sitting down at the table expecting to have quiet time while I read my best friend's manuscript. Well, as quiet as can be in a house with a three-year-old still running free.
Just as I sat down, the sounds of a sharp thump followed by a tortured scream brought me to my feet. I ran in the other room to find Sam lying on the ground by our coffee table holding his ear. I immediately knew he'd hit his head on the corner of the coffee table (I always worry about the sharp edges), but thought it'd be nothing more than a bruise, like his little brother earned last week.
Until I saw the bits of blood on his hands. It's okay, I thought. No reason to panic just yet.
Then I gently moved his hand and my stomach rose at the sight of open flesh and gushing blood. That's when the panic settled in. I always worry what I will do if my kids get hurt in extreme ways like this if Dave isn't home because I am a total loss when it comes to thinking rationally and collectively in situations like this, and when I saw that the edge of Sam's ear had been sliced into and was hanging down and revealing the fleshy cartilage, I just about lost it. With a woozy head, I shamefully admit that the first words to fly from my careless mouth were, "Oh, sh**!" I know, I know. But you can scold me later.
I immediately shot to my feet and ran to the bathroom, instantly realizing the last thing this kid needed was his nurturing mother making things worse. He was already screaming and crying and freaking out enough as it was. So, mustering every ounce of poise I could gather, I calmly set him on the sink, grabbed a wet rag and placed it against his ear as I tried consoling him. As a million thoughts ran through my mind of the clinic and emergency rooms and my baby asleep down the hall--along with the concern of whether holding the rag against his ear was the right thing in the meantime--I called Dave.
Thankfully, he was just down the street and came immediately, where he took Sam without hesitation and drove to the clinic. By then the gaping, hanging ear flesh was back together because I had pushed it back together amidst calming my son and telling him how strong he was (the whole time screaming inside as my stomach rose and head spun).
After gathering our things (including Josh), I met them at the Bagdad clinic only to arrive in time to one of the P.A.s telling Dave they didn't have the proper tools here to get the job done effectively, so they bandaged his head and sent us on our way to the Prescott ER.
And of course they charged us.
Anyway, by this time Sam had some IBU Profin in his system and had gotten some Cars stickers, so he was feeling a little better. He actually slept the whole way to Prescott.
When we got to the reception desk in the ER, they immediately knew who we were, thanks to Bagdad calling ahead of us, but as soon as she started asking questions, Sam instantly interjected, "I'm all better now, lady."
We had fun counting and talking and playing with him while we waited (for forever it felt). Sam seemed to be doing great sitting there on the bed, seemingly unaware that his ear was severed or that his had was wrapped like a mummy. He and Josh both laughed their little heads off as Dave put on a show with a rubber glove and blew it up like a balloon.
At one point we were even talking about taking him to get ice-cream afterwards and that we were in Prescott and he adamantly insisted, "No, we are not in Prescott. We are at Doctor House's." We had a good laugh, especially because we have never mentioned Dr. House around him before...that we know of.
Then the wonderful P.A. came in and ruined all joy. She was fabulous, but Sam wasn't too aware of her charm--only that he knew something was coming. Here was her opening conversation with him:
P.A. Dawn: "I heard you hurt your ear."
P.A. Dawn: "Were you running?"
P.A. Dawn: "Did you hit your head on the table?"
Sam: "Yeah. And I was hurting and pooping and watching red Toy Story."
Let me explain that a little. Supposedly, right before the incident, Sam had pooped (I know...still in a diaper. That's another story for another time), which we couldn't end up changing until right before we left the clinic, considering the circumstances. And he calls Toy Story 2 "red Toy Story" because the first one is blue and the second one is red.
The procedure was pretty torturous--almost as much for me as it was for him. First, she numbed the area with lidocaine, which was the worst, most excruciating and painful part.
Let me deter for a brief moment. This whole thing has been hard for me to stomach. I have a weak stomach when it comes to stuff like this anyway, but add one of my children to the mix and I feel that if I let myself, I could easily faint. I know this is something so simple and easy to fix and it could have been a lot worse--trust me. I know all these things. But minor or not, I was still queasy all night. The whole drive to Prescott, my mind kept wandering and I kept playing the "what if" scenarios over in my mind, imagining worse things happening, etc. Because, I told myself, someday they will. I hate that thought. If I have this hard of a time with something like this, how will I react if a much worse injury happens? Even the sight of his blood staining my shoulder made my stomach turn (when it happened, before I held the flesh back together, it was gushing blood and it got all over Sam and me. Needless to say, I didn't have time to change before we left for the ER).
So anyway, back to the procedure. I knew I wouldn't be able to handle it--I couldn't even handle looking at it, mainly just in knowing it was my son--so I left with Joshua and walked around on the other end of the big room with bunches of ER beds. I could still see and hear from a distance, but I was trying with everything in me not to let it get the best of me. I could immediately tell when they injected him with the needle because he let out the highest blood-curdling screams that just tore my heart into a million pieces. Looking down the way and seeing that little blonde head pinned to the bed broke my heart.
Then it got worse when he instinctively started calling, "Mommy! I want mommy!" So of course I ran over immediately and stood close to him at his eye level, constantly reassuring him that I was there and that he was so brave for the remainder of the procedure. Something about knowing how he instantly wanted me there made my heart swell. Knowing your kids need you and depend on you is the greatest feeling in the world. I love my Sam so much.
Anyway, before they started the whole procedure, in order to keep his arms down, they put his arms behind his back in a pillow case (which they told him was like a Superman cape--he liked that idea until the next step), then wrapped a sheet tightly around him in a straight jacket effect. Then they laid him on his tummy and put a paper towel thing over his head while one nurse holds his head down, Dave holds his body down, and the P.A. sews.
It was utterly heartbreaking to see that little face beneath the paper crying for me. It was so cute though, because over and over again he kept crying, "I don't wanna be Superman!"
So....(sigh) five stitches later, here we are. Back at home, safe and sound. His ear looks pretty gruesom and reminds me of something similar to Frankenstein. But it should heal fast and in five days, we return to the ER and have them remove the stitches. And considering he will be free of infections (we are crossing our fingers), he will be as good as new with the exception of a cool scar.
Our next step is to buy some sort of protective guards for the edges of our coffee table. Because they are overly sharp.
A couple of times on the way home tonight, we had to check on him as he slept in the backseat to make sure he was still conscious and all (overly worried parents and a head injury aren't a good combo), but as soon as he spoke, letting his usual attention-to-detail self shine through, we knew he was okay. "Daddy, we have to stop by the doctor on the way home because your truck is still there." So incredibly smart.
Then tonight before bed, he sat on his bed whimpering because Dave had just shown him his battle wound in the mirror (great doing, daddy) and he was afraid to lay down because he didn't want to bleed everywhere. But then I told him he was brave like Buzz Lightyear, and since Buzz is his hero lately, he was content with that.
So that was our adventure of the night, long and drawn out for your enjoyment. :) It's just times like this, no matter how small and insignificant, that make you realize your blessings in your life and how rich and abundant the life of a parent is. I love being a mother. It is the greatest calling I could ever have in this life and my children are absolutely everything to me. It's too bad we can’t create a perfect, pain-free life for our children on this earth. It makes you wonder how Heavenly Father feels.
Anyway, here are a few pictures I took with my phone to capture the highlights of the evening (I wish I had had our normal camera):
This was after his head was "mummied" at the Bagdad clinic, before they sent us packing to the ER.
This is what it looked like after the skin had stuck together again, after removing the bandages and before the stitches. That slice was all open before and exposing the flesh as it hung open. (Yes, I am trying to gross you out)
In his little gown...knowing something unfun lay around the corner, but clueless of just how bad it really was...
After they wrapped him, but before turning him over. Letting it drain a little.
One of the few pictures Dave took. None of them do it justice (I still wish I would have somehow been sane enough to take pictures after it first happened), but this is her sewing him up.
And this is the end result, with an ear full of lidocaine and stitches that make him look like Frankenstein.