Monday, July 18, 2011

First ER visit


This is what happened today. Peter and I made our first ER visit with a kid.

Miss E was messing around on her stool at the bar, somehow fell forward and smashed her face into the counter top. Let me just say, there is nothing like the feeling that hits your heart when you get a phone call at work from a husband who sounds tense while your daughter is FREAKING OUT in the background informing you that she has to go to the ER to get stitches. And I knew, even as I was grabbing my stuff and running out the door, that this was not life threatening. Or even a really big deal like a broken bone. It was stitches. 5 of them. I kept telling myself that as I drove "It's only stitches. She's going to be OK. Focus on your driving, don't drive too fast. You need to get there in one piece. It's only stitches. She's going to be OK". That mantra kept running through my head as I raced down the freeway.

Once I got to the ER, she was already in talking to the triage nurse and had calmed down from a full on freak-out to continuous crying, border-line hysterics. They took us back right away and then all of a sudden there was a doctor and two nurses and Peter and I in the room all jabbering to her at once about what was going to happen. The doctor kept saying things like "we're going to give you a little pinch, like a bee sting" blah blah blah blah. Poor Miss E was now freaking out because she had a hole in her lip and was overwhelmed by all these euphanisms she didn't understand and everyone talking to her at once. Finally I just found her eyes and said "Miss E, they are going to give you a shot in your lip and put in some medicine to numb it so you don't feel it. Then they are going to put a few stitches in the cut to close it. It's too big for a bandaid. You are going to have to lie very still."

She seemed to calm a little bit once she knew what was going to happen but then they brought in a back board with straps on it like a straight jacket for your entire body. Well. If it was me, that would be worse than the actual needle. And I know Miss E, she has a high tolerance for pain. I mean, she whines about all the little crap that happens to her body but when it comes right down to it, she's one tough cookie. So they lay her back and start strapping her up to where I can't even hold her hands. I told the nurses that she wouldn't need that on her legs or body as I was unstrapping it. I left the shoulder strap on so her hands couldn't fly up but just held onto her hands and told her I would stay there (Peter had to take Mr. T out of the room) for the entire time.

Oh this was hard. It was so hard to see her so hurting and scared and everything happening so fast. The worst part was putting the needle with the anesthetic in it in her face. I mean, a needle going right into her chin followed by a TON of fluid. She did really good, took some deep breaths and held still. Then she had to lay there for a minute and the bright light was in her eyes and the shoulder straps were on it and it just wasn't comfortable at all. We moved the light and then they started stitching. She could see the entire thing, and wanted to see it but she was really really scared. It was hard for me to sit there and be calm while my terrified little girl was strapped down to a table with another nurse holding her head still. At one point she said she was hot and her little hands were sweating so I just blew on them which seemed to instantly calm her down. Something about the feel of my breath on her palms cooling them down gave her something to focus on beside the fact that she was getting her face sewn back together.

In the end, the stitches were done and she calmed a little bit although she was still crying. The ER was OK, not great. I see why people go to specific children's ER's but there isn't one close to us. I asked Peter if anyone had checked her for a head injury or if they had just focused on fixing the bleeding and he looked at me like I had two heads. "Well, yeah. Of course I checked her for that.". Oh right. He's a firefighter. I forget that sometimes.

After the visit, I found myself second guessing our choices. Should we have insisted a plastic's doctor did the stitching from the start? Should I have unstrapped her shoulders? Should I have asked them to give us a minute to help her calm down (I'm not sure she could have calmed down before the whole thing was over)? Should I have asked more follow up questions? Should we have insisted that Peter and Mr. T stay in the room or would that have been too many people? Should Peter have stayed with her instead of me? I mean I am the mom, but he has a way in hospital and doctor settings that is very calming. I don't know. In the end, it happened the way it did. Hopefully we won't have a next time to prepare for.

Also, note to ER personnel: At age 6, a princess sticker as you are leaving in NO WAY changes or makes you forget the fact that you had a needle jabbed in your lip and then 5 stitches put in. The nurse acted surprised that Miss E didn't jump at the chance to pick out a sticker. Yeah. I think if you offered her a pony at that point she wouldn't have giving a sh**. So a sticker? Really?

Now we face a week filled with a liquid diet, antibiotics twice a day, a visit to a plastic surgeon and then the dentist after her lip has healed. But she is OK. The hospital experience, while more traumatic for her than us at the time, will be quickly forgotten by her (not so much for me...that was intense and hard) and her lip will heal. I don't think she will have much of a scar after we treat it with some of that scar disappearing stuff. We were lucky. And I wish all parents have their first trips to the ER happen after the age of 6 and only involve stitches. There are so many out there who aren't that lucky and my heart goes out to them. For me though, stitches is enough.

(Posts are filled in through July 4!)


  1. Oh boy, five stitches. Hope it’s as calm a week as possible.

  2. OK so even after talking to you about this prior to reading it, you brought tears to my eyes. It is SO hard to see your kids in pain, especially when there is nothing you can do for them but blow on their hands. It sounds like the whole family handled things bravely. Well done to you all!

  3. What an ordeal! Mine freaks at the mention of a mere bandaid - can't imagine what he would do at the prospect of stitches. I think you handled it very well. Sometimes it's hard for moms to be brave, too.

  4. Thanks everyone! It is really hard to be calm and strong for you kiddos when they are scared and hurt. She's doing much better now - a few milkshakes have helped that right along : )