Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ben, A Bed Frame, and Seven Stitches

A few weekends ago, we went to the town of Crivitz, Wis., about an hour north of Green Bay, for a college reunion. There were eight girls (we drove from St. Paul, Blaine, Chippewa Falls, Green Bay, Mequon (near Milwaukee) and Spring Grove, Ill.), five guys, and 15 kids under the age of 10. We drank, we swam at the beach, we sat by the campfire, we laughed, we cried along with one of our friends when she got the call that her 68-year-old mom had died (all together now: we hate cancer), just the girls kayaked 13 miles, we ate too much, we drank some more. The kids caught frogs, played on the swing set, argued in the sandbox, chased one another, laughed, acted goofy, cried (at times), swam, fished, and had a blast just doing what kids do on hot summer days when other kids are around and regular rules don't apply. (Cupcakes for breakfast? ok. Bedtime at 11 p.m.? ok. Wear your swimsuit and nothing else all day and night? ok. Play outside barefoot until your feet turn black? ok.)

Nothing says summer like a popsicle! This was just three of the families in Crivitz (minus the two youngest: Ben and Nathan). The following day, three more families arrived. Lots 'o kids!

The college gang decided that—from here on out—we're going to get together with just the girls once every winter and get together once every summer with our families. My only complaint is that another friend in Minneapolis (Leah), and friends in Colorado (Webs), Idaho (Tonya), California (Amy K., honorary UWEC alum), and Indiana (Schmidty) weren't there, too. I can't even remember the last time we were all together. Maybe in April of 2005 at my wedding? And even then Holly was gone, having a baby. (Legitimate excuse)

Anyhow, after a fun four-day trip and a long five-hour car ride home, we unpacked, ate dinner, gave the boys much-needed baths, and told them to pick out their bedtime stories. I knew I still had work (writing) to do and all I wanted to do was crawl into bed and sleep for 24 hours. I was wiped out. The kids were wiped out. Aaron was wiped out.
As I was putting clothes away in Adam's room, I heard Ben suddenly cry from our room where he was trying to climb up onto the "big bed." I usually wait a second to see if his cry is a "I hurt myself again but I'm alright" cry or one of those all-too-common for a 2-year-old "I'm frustrated!" cries or an "I'm-overtired-and-everything-right-now-makes-me-cry" cry. When no sound came out for a few seconds between his first and second cry, I knew it was the dreaded "HOLY $#@%! I'M IN PAIN!" cry. I hate that cry. It usually means blood is involved.
I was right. When I picked him up, there was a pool of blood forming on the top of his right foot. How did he cut it? I grabbed him, took him into the bathroom, and ran his foot under cold water. As soon as the water washed the blood away, I saw the gash. OMG. Was that the bone? That wasn't the bone, was it? (It wasn't, but it was still disturbingly deep.)
I yelled, "Aaron! Come here! Ben sliced his foot open and it looks really bad!"
Adam was nearly hysterical, Ben was crying, and I was trying not to lose my shit. Aaron came bounding up the stairs, took a look at Ben's foot, and we made the joint decision that it was bad enough to bring him to urgent care. I even called Tonya to ask for a second opinion since, ya know, she works in the ICU and probably sees more open wounds than anyone else I know. (She agreed that we should bring him in.)

                                                                 The injury.

Aaron jumped online and found a nearby urgent care clinic that was open until 10 p.m.

At this point, Adam was in full-on freak-out mode. An example of his dialogue: "I have a cut on my forehead, do I need stitches, too?!? I have to change out of my pajamas?!?! What??? I just put them on! Where are we going!?!? What did Ben do?!?! What are stitches!?!?! How long will we be gone?!?! What do they have to do to him!??!! Are we staying there all night?!?!"
I wanted to yell, "ADAM, CALM DOWN! Why are YOU freaking out?! Ben is the one whose foot looks like the Grand Canyon!" but by now I understand that Adam worries, and stresses, and over-reacts — that is who he is. I try to be sensitive to the fact that he is our worrier, our scaredy cat, our give-me-all-the-information-so-I-can-process-this-situation-in-my-own-way child. He is always thinking. Always.
Ben is our reckless, fearless, "So what? I cut my foot open. What's it to ya? Let's get ice cream" child. Ben reacts, then thinks ... which is probably why we've had to take him to urgent care twice now.
As we headed to Woodbury's Urgency Room, I sat in the backseat and held Ben's foot up so that it was elevated. He didn't cry once in the car, just stared at the blood-soaked towel wrapped around his foot.
"Ben, what happened?" I asked.
"I got an owie," he shrugged.
[You might think I'm exaggerating, but I swear I'm not.]
At the clinic, the boys were eerily well-behaved. I think it was because they were half-asleep, still recovering from an action-packed weekend in Crivitz. The nurse complimented us on our kids' behavior and complained about some parents who let their little ones "run all over." I know those kids ... those kids have been ours, too. It can be a challenge trying to keep active kids entertained when you're cooped up in a doctor's office. I have done my fair share of kid-bouncing, jiggling, reading, and singing before swearing to myself, "Damn you, Doctor XYZ! Where are you? And damn you too, nurse So-and-So, for sticking us in this holding cell before the doc was ready to see us! There were toys in the lobby. There are no toys in this room!"
But this was urgent care—with, I'm sure, a big, fat urgent care bill to go along with it—and we had a TV to entertain the kids until the doc came in. We were also offered juiceboxes and bottled water. And lobster and filet mignon. And a bottle of pinot gris. (wouldn't that be nice?)
The doctor came in, gently held Ben's foot in his hand, said the cut was "superficial" but that we made the right decision to bring him in (I'm always worried that we're over-reacting), determined that Ben needed stitches, asked the nurse to put the numbing agent around the wound (Ben cried a little at this point - protesting "It's cold! It's cold!"). He also cried/protested when I had to get off the bed, where Ben had been leaning back against me, and leave Ben on there without me so the doctor could do his thing. I think he cried more about this than he did the actual injury. After the numbing agent kicked in (30 minutes or so), the doctor returned to sew my little boy's foot back together. Adam had to turn his head away while the doctor was closing the wound, but Ben wanted to watch every last stitch (there were seven). He loudly yelled "It HURTS!" at the very end, when the doctor admitted the numbing agent probably hadn't kicked in all over and "he might feel this part."Usually, though, I was able to distract him with questions. Thank God, too, for his blankie. That thing has come in handy so many times when Ben has needed comforting.

 Ben upset that I had to leave him all alone on that big, scary hospital bed. "Get up here, Mom!"

The nurse commented that Ben was very brave and abnormally calm for a 2-year-old. I agreed. I was expecting him to thrash or scream or try to run away. He didn't do any of those things. I mean, the kid watched the doctor put in the stitches. How can he belong to me? I am the girl who has to put her head between her legs when she gets her finger pricked. I am a class-A wuss.

The nurse brought the boys each a freezie, we filled out some paperwork, and we were on our way. It was a very slick process. 
We later figured out that Ben caught a sharp part of our bed frame when trying to hoist himself onto our bed. It's the only sharp part under our bed, and if you lined up 1,000 kids and had them do the exact same thing, I bet the other 999 would come away unscathed. If he can hurt himself, odds are, he will.
For a week, Ben had to stay out of swimming pools and bathtubs (no fun when the temps were hovering near 100 degrees and the daycare kids were all outside splashing in the little pool). He was good at daycare, though, and understood that he couldn't swim and he couldn't run around barefoot. That Sunday I returned to The Urgency Room so he could get the stitches removed, since they told us it was a free service. Aaron was golfing so I was on my own with the kids. 
So ... we went. And the cut had not fully healed. The paramedic who carefully took out each of the seven stitches had to call in a (very, very good-looking) doctor, who said, "Well, I won't go ahead and put in more stitches" [WHAT?! You just took them out!] "but, in order for Ben not to bust his foot open again, we need to put on these steri-strips and keep him out of the water for another few days."
Ben stayed out of the pool for another week and — knock on wood — looks like his wound has finally healed. 
Please-please-please let this be the only urgent care/ER visit of the year. Is that really too much to ask?

Maybe, if we kept him in a box, he wouldn't keep hurting himself?