Sunday, Bloody Sunday

My eight-year-old’s eyes open and he mutters something.

I lean in, past the I.V.  “What?”

“Four eyes,” he whispers.

“I have four eyes?”

“Weird,” he says, and then his eyes flutter shut and he immediately starts snoring. Only to wake again, moments later, to puzzle over my second head.

We were in the ER last night–once again on a Sunday–only this time I drove, and it was my fifth child in the back, clutching a bloody towel around a wound I didn’t have the stomach to examine.  I told him to hold it under running water for a minute and his big brother helped him apply pressure.

After which I led him up the stairs to have his father look at it.

Because I could not.

I used to work at Lethbridge Regional Medical when I was fifteen years old. I watched things like the washing out of a gangrenous sore the size of a cantaloupe on an old man’s leg—wounds that were open to the bone. I found eye surgery fascinating.

My kids know better than to show me their paper cuts and finger wounds. 

Ridiculous. How can just thinking about the cut on my son’s finger send me into world spinning nausea and a cold sweat, no matter how determined I am to not think about it?

I didn’t even look at the kid, and I still didn’t think I was going to make it out to the van. I made him hide his hands under a towel while I fastened his seatbelt.  I guzzled Gatorade in the waiting room. When the PA said they were going to do a digital block I asked for a garbage can.

I watched my six-year-old’s face when they put three blocks in his big toe a few years ago and it was the most horrifying expression I’ve ever seen—a child that age should not know there is that kind of pain in the world. (Jab a big old needle into one of your digits, now "fan" it one way–without taking it out, and then lift it a little and rotate the thing 180 degrees or so the other way. Repeat several times.) And that son was/is tough.  

This kid is my tender-heart. If it was any other kid I’d probably just have them cram the needle in, wiggle it around, and get the job done.

“Can’t you glue it?” I ask the PA.

“It’s really deep. I’m surprised he didn’t sever the tendon.”

“If it’s just cosmetic, I’m okay with a scar,” I say.

No dice. 

I’m keeping things light, talking code words for needles and stitches with the PA. The nurse is a forty-something male with long hair and an enormous belly. He’s talking stitches like we’re on a football field with an 18 year old quarterback. Like it’s all fun and games. My son begins hyperventilating on the table. I actually think the nurse wants to punch him. Or me..

Fortunately, the PA (much to redneck nurse's chagrin) gives us the option of using some sort of conscious sedation.  

Meaning the kid’s eyes are open, but his brain is chemically separated from his brain stem. He doesn’t feel anything, and he doesn’t remember much. And he thinks I have four eyes.

We’re in the ER until midnight.  I have no idea how many stitches he has, but it took the PA a good half hour to put them all in.

Is there such a thing as behavior modification therapy for cowardice?  Do you think I could overcome it with enough exposure? In a real emergency, would my survival instincts take over?

I am so not cut out to be the mother of sons.     

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10 responses to “Sunday, Bloody Sunday

  • Freedom Smith

    Don't beat yourself up. You got him there and you stood up for him! I have a friend whose husband passes out when she has C-sections. I myself have trouble with blood and avert my eyes.

  • Ladywise

    Great writing of the story as always Kimber and I feel terrible for you. I have a second personality or something that kicks in when something happens unless it is my child. Then I do the same thing you do and get all sweaty and faint. When my daughter was in labor the second time she asked me to go back with her to get her epidural. I said sure, I'll go. I never saw the needle or anything, I just thought about what they were about to do, and the last thing I remembered was her yelling at the nurse to help her mom because I was about to hit the floor. We have a different sense, or maybe a lack of sense when it comes to our own children. I also think age hampers us a bit, because I was great when she had her first child four years before that. We're just human I guess.

  • Random Musings

    Oh, Kimber, I feel your pain. All trips to the ER with my kids were done by my husband. I cannot stand to see them in pain even now that they are adults. I hope he heals quickly.

  • Kimber

    I used to do the same thing whenever I got poked. I knew to always lay down first because I always passed out. I don't know if I just went through childbirth enough times or what, but it doesn't bother me anymore–when it's me bleeding/getting the poke!

  • Kimber

    Only a mother can understand that! Can you imagine how difficult it would be to have a child with a chronic or uncurable illness? Cancer, etc, that required extended visits and procedures? That would be so tough!

  • Kimber

    Oh boy-how embarrassing! I was really, really glad I didn't do anything like that with him–he'd have really freaked out!

  • Alicia

    I remember they had to knock me out when I was a kid to pull out a piece of glass in my foot, and to sew it up. My eyes were open, so when I woke up, I couldn't see because my eyes were so dry.

  • Freedom Smith

    Hopefully, Anna will outgrow it. I think she will. She did not used to have this reaction but she got Nephritis, a rare condition that can occur a couple of weeks after strep (makes the urine full of blood) and I had to take her every day to the Children's Hospital to have blood taken for a couple of weeks. I think that is what started the whole thing.

  • Emjay

    Oh – I feel for you! Things like this seemed to happen to either of my two boys whenever my (now ex) husband was out of town. Once when my eldest was having a really bad asthma attack they were trying to put a drip into his arm and they kept missing and having another attempt. He was screaming "don't let them stab me mummy" – it was absolutely horrible – I had to be escorted from the room by a nurse and was not allowed back in until the father arrived.

  • Kimber

    Oh horrors! At least my son was just mutely staring at me with a terror-stricken expression! I'd have had to be escorted out, too!

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