1/25/05

The Rice Krispie Bar Incident

First Trip to the Emergency room

having just recently moved up in terms of a career, I was on my way home from work last night when my wife gave a frantic call on my cell phone.

"where are you?"

"Just outside of town, why"

"Colton just fell and hit his head and now he's bleeding pretty bad, hurry"

As I was only a few minutes from home, I didn't really panic, after the initial feeling of unreal dread. I arrived home and dashed in, leaving the car running just in case we needed to dash right back, half expecting the pair of them to be at the door, Colton with a bloody towel drooping over his head. Reality was my son cheerily saying "Hi daddy" as is his normal routine, waiting for me at the top of the stairs.

Closer inspection showed a gash on Colton's head above and behind his ear (about 2 inches either way) about 3/4" long and still oozing blood, but quickly clotting. Amber was on the phone to the urgent care, and they suggested he come to have it checked out. My first glance told me he would be needing stitches. probably two, possibly three. The cut was just open too wide (about 1/4") for it to heal properly by itself.

We made an appointment for an hour later and ate dinner, as it was Colton's dinnertime, and we didn't want to complicate matters any further. He ate normally, if not a bit more than usual, and we quickly put his pajamas on and got ready to go to hudson (20 minutes away). Colton was upset by this, as it is certainly NOT in his normal routine for daddy to put his coat back on after dinner. I am certain he wanted to play, seemingly suffering no ill effects from his triple-lindy into the corner of the kitchen doorway. He calmed down a little when he realized we weren't leaving him, but he was still upset about having to put on his jacket and get into the car. Soon he was chasing butterflies to sleep with his favorite book, and we rode into Hudson in relative peace.

Arriving on time is always a dicey proposition when it comes to health care providers in my experience. Seldom have I not waited several minutes past my appointed time, but I must also credit these people with fitting me back into the schedule when I show up late myself. We waited 50 minutes past our appointment before Colton's name was called. Thankfully, Colton was in his usual fabulous mood, running back and forth across the lobby, saying "Hi, Buddy" to every man that he crossed paths with, stopping and inspecting several heel marks - "what's that?", remarking about the darkened cafeteria "Lights - Off!" and in general amusing himself and wearing me out at the same time. We may have put two miles on our shoe...pardon, my shoes, Colton's footie pajamas.

When our name was finally called, we raced the receptionist to the scale (only way Colton would go the right direction) and were initially inspected by a fabulous nurse. She talked us through what the doctor would do, washed Colton's wound at her own peril, and bid us wait for the on call Doctor to arrive. Amber was holding Colton for a short time, but she was getting tired and he restless, so we made up a game of hide and seek. I would hide in the curtain and count to ten, at which point I would run out from behind the curtain and say "ready or not, here I come!". Colton found this to be great fun, and announced that it was his turn, marching behind the curtain and counting to seven before running out and saying "ready not here come!" and "ready here I come!!" and other iterations of the phrase that I had repeated many times just prior. This was our entertainment for twenty or so minutes until the doctor finally came in and looked at Colton's head.

Generally, I enjoy going to the doctor, and I think that my son does, too. Typically, the diagnoses are pleasant, the doctors have had a good rapport with Colton, and there is very little screaming involved. This was to prove an atypical doctor visit, not only for the nature of the call. The doctor, certainly a learned woman of great skill and accomplishment, did not present a confident figure. There are many reasons why this was true of this particular doctor and this particular day, none of which have any bearing on her competence as a doctor, to be sure. However, when she mumbled her hellos and shuffled over to the table, struggled with placing the light in the correct place for her purposes, and whispered her diagnoses to her nurse, not really to us, Amber and I were underwhelmed.

Restrain. Normally, this is something I relate to the song "Bad Boys", not my 23 month old, blonde, blue-eyed son. The nurse told us that she was getting the "papoose sling" and I immediately thought of when Colton was little and I rocked him to sleep in his sling. This sling that she made reference to did not look much different than our sling, if you discount the long board that it was attached to. But Colton looked at it as though it were a medieval torture device. Askance does not begin to describe the look on his face. Abject comes closer.

I don't relish the job that an emergency/urgent care nurse or doctor has to do when it comes to the comprehensive capabilities of a not quite two-year-old. At one, you can immobilize them and they don't know why, but they don't make any connections as to what is happening to them. at three, you can talk them through the ordeal of being strapped to a plastic board, stuck in the head with a needle, and then poked and prodded and held down and told by your parents that everything will be okay. Being strapped tightly into a papoose sling apparently does not strike the fancy of the not-quite-two-year-old, and the reasons appear to be different from those other two age groups. Colton knew that something was going to happen. He didn't know it was because he had fallen three hours earlier and struck his head against the corner of the kitchen doorway. He knew that the doctor, who he couldn't see, was going to hurt him when he felt the needle go into his scalp really close to where his owie was. He didn't know why he couldn't feel anything after that, except for the slight tugs and movements of the slightly incompetent doctor, whose lack of confidence inspiring action at the beginning of the exam only complicated the feelings I felt toward her when she misfired the staple into my only child's scalp. Yes, I forgot to mention that staples are considered de' rigueur at this hospital. Something about cleaner and less prone to infection. All I can think of at this point is how much it hurt when I stapled my finger to a book report I wrote for my seventh grade Social Studies class. If I remember correctly, that became infected almost right away. But I digress. Colton could tell that the tugging had gotten more intent in the last few moments, because the good doctor had broken the staple that she originally misfired into my only son's scalp as she tried to remove it.

What should have been, from what we could gather of her mousy speechifying, a quick ten-second click-click and we are done became the longest three minutes of my life. When you look at your immobilized son, who knows that something is going on but can't see it because he can't move and therefore is terrified, doesn't really scream so much as grunts as loudly as his little, immobilized body will allow the word "GO!" in a protracted, guttural yelp, and you tell him that you really would like to go, but we can't because the doctor has to fix his owie, and you look to your wife, who's tears are silently wetting your son's pajamas because she can't let him hear her be upset, but she is terribly, and you ask the doctor, who is about to put in another staple into you're only child's scalp if she really thinks she knows what the hell she is doing with that thing and she puts two staples in click-click, seven seconds and she is done and apologizing profusely for the ordeal and Colton is finally allowed to hold desperately to his mother, which he had been desperately wanting to do for three minutes that stretched into his entire lifetime and you desperately want to be inside that desperate hold and finally you get to hold your son and tell him that he's okay and we really needed to do that to him, and as the nurse and the doctor leave the room, Colton says "Thank you" to them - well, that just breaks your heart.

Two days later, Colton doesn't even seem to realize that he has staples in his head, except for that time tonight when we were in the baby's room, getting ready for her arrival this April, and Colton was "helping" by regressing into his old crib and his old toys and everything that used to be his when he was a baby, he bumped his head slightly on the headboard of the crib. Not enough to make him upset or anything, just enough so that he touched his head and "wiped the ouchie away" . He noticed the bump and the staples, and had a quizzical look on his face until I told him what they were. I had to tell him a few times not to pick at it, but he shortly left them alone, and I don't think he is even thinking of them anymore.

I sure am.

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