Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Stitch (or 8) in Time

On Saturday, The Wife's quartet sang in the afternoon and the evening shows for the Pittsburgh Metro chapter's annual show. She didn't get home until after 11, which was long after all of us were in bed. Considering that she woke up Saturday morning with a nasty cold, only made worse by being on stage all day, I knew that Sunday was going to be a struggle. She and Things 1 & 2 had Sunday school the next morning, which I figured would wipe her out pretty well. So, I made some plans to have some fun in the afternoon.



We met at Grandma's house for lunch, and I took the boys home while she stayed there to get some rest. While at Grandma's, Little Bear started complaining of an upset stomach - his stomach has been in knots for more than week, which coincides with the yucky-stuff-on-fingernails to get him to stop sucking his fingers. He hasn't figured out a way to channel all that tension that the fingers released, and it's upset his stomach with the stress. It was particularly bad on Sunday, as he sensed that Mommy was sick and not feeling well. Being the empathic soul he is, that made him quite upset. He ate no lunch, sitting on my lap and crying and grousing instead.

The Wife came back to the house relatively soon after, being worried about Little Bear. She spoke with the new pediatrician - we just changed pediatric offices last week, and since we hadn't seen the new pediatrician yet, we spoke with our old pediatrician. At this point, we were seriously considering taking him to the emergency room for x-rays and an ultrasound - we were 99.9% convinced that it was stress-related, but considering the history of fast-growing kidney cancer in his brother, that .1% chance was gnawing at us. The doctor agreed with us that it was stress-related and gave us a couple of little coping things.

At that point, once we finally got through to the doctors, Little Bear was engaged in a game with his brothers and acting normally, so fine. After a little while, I threw the kids onto their bikes to go to the park - again, in the hopes that we'd give The Wife a little vocal rest (maybe a nap). Little Bear and The Boy took their bikes, and The Baby wanted the balance bike - which I knew he wouldn't ride, but he wanted it, so. I was chatting with a grownup at the park when I heard the crash and screaming.

The park is circled by a small drainage trench, which is about two inches deep with a small curb on the outside. The boys like to ride their bikes through the grass, across the trench, and up the curb. Little Bear was heading over the curb, turned his wheel, and flipped over the front of his bike. Good news: he was wearing a helmet to prevent head trauma. Bad news: he landed on his chin.

I ran over, saw that his chin was ground into hamburger and bleeding profusely, and took out my phone. I called my wife, asked her to bring a car and something to sop up a lot of blood, ask questions later, and move quickly. She was there in about two minutes with a clean dishrag and quickly assessed what happened. I carried Little Bear to the car. Normally, she's his first choice when it comes to hospital companions, but - since she was sick - I was elected to go.



The difference between cancer parent and non-cancer parent: when my child was lying screaming on the ground, I was able to assess the situation calmly, see that he wasn't in serious danger (helmet was intact, no blood in the mouth (so no tooth / tongue issues thank G-d), and I was able to figure out how to hold and to soothe him in a way that did not result in getting blood all over my jacket and pants, both of which I like.

He calmed down in the car ride over to the hospital, and we got checked into the emergency room reasonably quickly. We got into a room, and he got the numbing cream on a bandaid on his chin which they were assessing the situation. While we waited for the attention of everybody, we flipped on the television and - for some reason - he was fixated on Spongebob Squarepants. Now, we NEVER watch Spongebob. It's just not on our watchlist. There's other stuff that we choose; it's not restricted, they just don't watch it. But, that's what he chose to watch.



Eventually, the physician's assistant came in to do the stitches. They put him down on his back, covered everything as best as they could, and a child life specialist came to help. They figured out a pretty good way to keep his chin in the air: she held an iPad with the show high enough that he had to crane his neck up to see.



Little Bear is a good patient. He's had stitches before - not to bury the lead, but he's now gone from 1 to 4 to 8 stitches in his chin - so he knew what to expect. 8 stitches takes a while, though, so he did get a little wiggly at the end. He knows what happens, though: good patients in the hospital get to have grilled cheese in the cafeteria afterwards. Even better patients get grilled cheese with PICKLES. He earned the pickles.



He was his relatively normal self by the time we were on the way to the cafeteria. He now has a nice horizontal scar to go along with his two vertical ones. We had a nice dinner together, and we were home about three and a half hours after we left for the park.

The trick is going to be keeping the steri-strips on for a few days to give the wound time to close enough. The chin is an active area, and it gets wet a lot - Little Bear is a good eater, but he's a little boy, and little boys are frequently damp and sticky. We'll see.



Post-script: He saw the pediatrician Monday morning, and the pediatrician thoroughly examined his belly and didn't find anything. Granted, we did, too, but I'll never forget the feeling of the hard lump in The Boy's belly, so I feel better today. The doctor also looked at the chin and called it a decent job of sewing, so we'll see what it looks like when he's done healing. Something tells me it won't be the last time we're in the emergency room for this little boy.


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