I was sleeping. I had been up all night, and then John had class and so I stayed up with Zachy for that, too. When John got home, I sank into my bed like a rock and after a chapter of Little Bee, I was down for the count.
Sometime later…30 minutes? An hour? 12 hours? …after I fell asleep, I was awakened by a frantic John.
“Andrea, WAKE UP! There’s a PROBLEM WITH ZACH!!!!!”
Wtf? A problem with Zach? What sort of problem? Bleary-eyed, I tried to make sense of the scene. He was holding Zach, wasn’t he? But wait! OMG. OhmyfuckingGod!!!!
Blood everywhere. Everywhere. Literally pouring from his nose. From his mouth. I kept wailing, “What happened to him, John?!?” But John was in hysterics and couldn’t answer me. It was all rather dramatic. We couldn’t tell where the blood was coming from, Zach was screaming. I was trying to put on clothes, for which John was cussing me. ( “I’m glad it’s not an EMERGENCY or anything!”—more on this later.) And I was trying to catch the story. Something about a kitchen chair. And he was pushing it around. Everything was fine. John rounded the corner and was just right there, picking up a few toys from the floor when he heard the BANG-CRASH-BOOM! Zachy apparently had pushed the chair over to the counter where there was a carousel of his sippy cups drying. Damnit, the smart baby wanted a drink! And he pushed the chair to the counter and climbed up. He can deduce from the blood smear on the couter that he hit there first as he fell, raking his face first on the edge of the counter, then the door of the dishwasher, then the chair and the floor. Ouch. Holy shit.
The problem for me wasn’t the blood. I’m conditioned for blood, even when it is my own or my child’s. What got to me was the possibility of teeth/ jaw/skull/nose fractures with those kinds of blows to the face. “Get him checked out, just to be sure.”, I was thinking calmly in my head. So we went to the ER, where sweet, adorable Zachy wooed all of my coworkers, and I heard someone explain that we have the baby and then we have a ten year old!!! Yeah, that’s right. We’re somewhat rusty on this toddler shit.
Zach is fine. Since he won’t have anything to do with ice packs, he is getting popsicles galore. Turns out he tore his frenulum and he has the fat lip from hell. Some monster bruises appeared to be forming, but now, further removed from the incident, even those don’t look as if they are going to be that bad. No stitches, no head injuries. Just some antibiotics for the mouth laceration to prevent infection, ibuprofen for pain, and a little boy who looks like he’s been on the losing end of a fist fight. But some analysis is required here.
I’m the mom. I think, by most standards, I am supposed to be the one to freak out. That so is not the case here in this house. No, I don’t like seeing my kids hurt. And I react a little differently when it is my kids as opposed to one of my patients. Now John? John freaks out. Picture a hysterical woman in a hoop skirt running and screaming, “ATLANTA IS BURNING! ATLANTA IS BURNING!” and you kind of get a picture of John in a first-aid siuation. He did it when Evan had croup. He didn’t think to wake the respiratory therapist in the house who treats croup allthefuckingtime. He just ran around screaming and rushing me out of the house, and when we finally get to the ER, I stop and realize what is going on and that, while it sounds bad, it truly sounds worse than it is. And then the time Evan cut his foot: John was carrying 7-year-old Evan, fireman-style, through the house, screaming, “we’ve got to go now, he needs stitches! He may need surgery! It’s bad. SO BAD!”, all while freaking Evan out, too. Turns out that once I cleaned the blood off of his foot, it was a tiny cut that a Steri-Strip and band-aid from the medicine counter would fix. But while I was working on it, John was still freaking out. As in, “Andrea you aren’t a doctor yet and he needs to go to the hospital NOW! Are you depriving him of medical care?” No, I’m giving him medical care right now. He’s getting a Band-Aid and some Neosporin, Asshole. And then today, with Zach. I got yelled at for putting clothes on first. Because while it was bad, I was at least able to do what I always do.
Take a quick second. Assess the situation. Okay, Zach is bleeding badly. His color is good, so he isn’t bleeding too much. He hit his head, but he is alert, so likely no massive head injury. he is crying, and those of us in the industry know that the problems are when they stop crying or cannot cry. Then you have a big problem. He won’t let me get close enough to it to see where all of the blood is coming from, and since neither of us saw exactly how he hit, we don’t know. He could have injured underlying structures, so let’s get him looked at and make sure he’s okay. That’s what insurance is for. No need to call 911. Throw on clothes, grab a change of clothes for him now that his sleeper is all bloody. A couple of diapers and my cell phone and out the door we go. On the way, call Ev’s school and let them know we will be late picking him up because we have an emergency. Simple as that. Within 3 minutes, we were en route to the ER, and I even got to wear clothes! No need for screaming or hysterics or cussing or carrying on. Yes, Zach is hurt, but it isn’t life threatening. See, assess, decide on a course of action, and then do. Don’t react. That makes it even worse.
Somehow I will get all of this through to my Drama Queen of a husband. In the meantime, I have a little boy who is fine, and is getting spoiled like it’s nobody’s bid-ness because today, he sustained his first (and hopefully last) big boo-boo.