Two weeks ago I was in the emergency room with my husband and son.
This wasn’t our first ER rodeo. It was our fourth.
I’m not sure that I’ll be able to survive his childhood without multiple nervous breakdowns.
He was tipping this top-heavy wooden stool on its side—after we told him not to because its dangerous and he could hurt his feet if it fell. Sure enough, the stool slid, fell, and landed on his big toe.
No one ever listens to me.
I know a thing or two about the basic laws of gravity when paired with physics. Not because I was a great student, but because I’ve done this stuff before.
It was an epic I-told-you-so-moment that missed it’s fanfare because there was a lot of blood and everyone was screaming. The more one child screamed, the more the other children screamed. Obviously, my son screamed because it hurt. His sister screamed because she saw blood, and the last child screamed because everyone else was screaming. If you had walked into our home that very second, you would have expected to see a chainsaw-wielding man wearing a burlap sack over his head. Drawn on the front would be a happy face so ridiculous it would’ve been funny if it wasn’t so scary.
So, we shelved the told-you-so dance for another day and loaded everyone in the car and screamed the entire seven miles to the Children’s Hospital.
It was a long night because emergency rooms work their way down from the most to the least critical. So, if you show up at the ER because your baby has a 101-degree temperature and no underlying health issues, you’re going to be waiting awhile. The child that shoved the Lego up his nose is going to get in before you. But before him, will be the child who dropped a wooden stool on his toe and smashed it to little toesies. Before that kid, will be the child whose parents are having a much worse night than anyone else.
When we were finally called, we were assigned a registered nurse. So, I’m not sure why he wasn’t in our room when it was time to hold my son’s foot while the doctor sewed his toe back together. My son wanted Dad to keep him close which left me with the proverbial short straw. The designated foot-holder.
“It’ll be just like sewing class in junior high,” I thought to myself, as I felt the needle going in and out of my son’s foot while I blankly stared at everything but what was going on next to me.
Of course, it wasn’t really like home economics. When I was in the seventh grade, I don’t recall sewing a pillow that looked like a bloody big toe. My pillow was a banana with a blue, felt face that had a grimace because it was supposed to be frozen.
Dan was our RN. He should have held the foot. He was stronger than me, and I’m guessing a lot less queasier than I am. Or not. Maybe that’s why he wasn’t in the room. Maybe he saw the dressing casually littering the table like red crepe paper and decide this project wasn’t for him.
I couldn’t blame him.
If I weren’t morally obligated to be in that room and to hold that little foot that I gestated for nine months, I’d have ditched out after the stool dropped and gone to find a cigarette. Even though I don’t, and have never smoked in my life.
After it was done, a woman came in and gave him a popsicle. He ate it while we waited for her to come back in with a boot for him to wear since a shoe wouldn’t be covering that toe for several more weeks. And, she did. But it was for a baby. So, she said she’d come back. And, she did. But the boot was too big.
“Sorry,” she said, “we don’t seem to have any in between sizes here.”
Of course, they didn’t have any child-size boots. We were in a Children’s hospital.
I watched her unpack the boot that was big enough for my husband’s foot. We all watched her wrestle with the plastic wrapping and cut the velcro straps down. She proceeded to put it on, and when we picked him up, it slipped off.
She attempted this twice before we stepped in and told her it was fine. Probably we had an open-toed sandal, or whatever.
I was glad she wasn’t in charge of anything important.
We left sometime after midnight, ready to put this day behind us and get on with the days of recovery. It’ll be several weeks before this one is completely healed.
Even though it wasn’t our first ER rodeo, it never gets easier—well maybe the intake process does since they already have all of our information on file.
It’s the little things.
I’m confident it won’t be our last visit. As you can see from the photo, he was back at it by the end of the next day. I’m definitely not sure that I’ll be able to survive his childhood without multiple nervous breakdowns. I just might need a cigarette.