September 16, 2011

A Visit to the ER (Part 2)

We do what we can to protect our children. We vaccinate. (Or not. Let's not go there today.) We keep sharp knives off the counter and we cover the electrical outlets. But as I found out on Wednesday, kids find a way to injure themselves anyway.

To continue with our story, we got to the emergency room at a small, local hospital that we had never been to before. As emergency rooms go, it wasn't too bad. Jeff pointed out, "no bullet proof glass!" But all ER visits require the one thing Moe hates to do: wait. But wait we did, first in the waiting room, then in our little curtained-off cubicle.

I was pretty calm while we were waiting. It helped that Moe was no longer bleeding, and that the triage nurse put some gauze over his cut so I wasn't staring at my failure as mother it. It was about this time that I realized that we had left the house in such a hurry that I neglected to get either a shirt or shoes for Moe. It was cold in the waiting room, but he didn't seem to mind.

When we were taken back to the area with the beds, I got really nervous. Fortunately, we had at least another 30 minutes of waiting for that to wear off.

The doctor finally came in. He was young and very nice, and he confirmed that Moe would need three or four stitches. We told him that Moe was autistic so wouldn't be able to understand his directions. The doctor was incredibly kind to us and Moe. I was concerned that Moe wouldn't be able to stay still for the stitches. It turns out that most four year olds won't stay still for stitches, and he knew just what to do.

They started by putting a topical anesthesia on the area. Then we had to wait 20-30 minutes. We gave Moe a snack and changed his diaper. Moe played with my iPhone. I reversed the camera and showed him how to take pictures of himself. (Side note: why did I never think to show him that before?)

About 45 minutes later, the doctor and RN (an awesome guy with a hilarious southern accent that I can only describe, with apologies, as "redneck") came back with their tray of medieval torture devices. We swaddled Moe in a sheet, something we do in OT for calming. He was okay. Jeff held Moe's torso. The RN held his head still. And the doctor started with the Lidocaine injections.

The first shot wasn't too bad. Moe cried a bit, but it didn't seem horrible. But the second shot, which seemed a bit more directly into the wound, hurt. Moe screamed something like I've never heard from him before. I felt it physically. Even though I knew I it was necessary, that sound has stayed with me. And Moe never stopped crying - hard - through the whole process, from two more Lidocaine shots, to cleaning out the cut with water, to three stitches.

Despite the Lidocaine, I swear Moe could feel that first stitch going in. The doctor said he didn't think so. After the painful shots, I'm sure Moe was scared, didn't like his head being held so tightly. Coincidentally, one of my BFF's kids had the exact same injury when he was little, and she also said he didn't recover during the process.

As you can see, the cut is 2 feet long and
required 117 stitches.
As soon as they were done, and Jeff picked him up, Moe was completely fine. No more tears at all. But I haven't quite recovered. I can still see his hands covered in blood and a gaping wound on his head. I can still hear his scream from that shot, and see the fear in his eyes as that first stitch went in. In the scheme of things, this was minor. How do parents watch their kids suffer through worse? I hope I never know.

Also, I'm not looking forward next week, when Moe gets his stitches removed.

It is, however, strangely nice to write about this. Moe's autism had very little to do with what happened or how the process went. Through all the waiting, he was so well behaved in the ER. He hasn't been messing with his stitches, and he's letting me put antibiotic ointment on it. I wish it had never happened, but sometimes it is nice to have typical parenting stuff to talk about.

That reminds me: I must ask our realtor to make sure our next house has padded walls.


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