On Friday afternoon I was enjoying some freedom. Both kids were in school and I was waiting on my next batch of work. I was out in the neighborhood. A nanny I’m friendly with and hadn’t seen in awhile stopped me to chat and we were catching up when my phone rang. The number was familiar. “Oh no,” I said to her as I hit answer, “I think this is school.”
On the phone was the school nurse. She told me that Brady had collided with another student in gym class and had “a fairly large laceration.” I heard “stitches” and “do you want me to call an ambulance?” and then said “I’ll be right there!” and started running toward school. Of course, this was the worst time for this to happen because Declan’s school day was about to end. I called his school and they brought him down to me as I passed by on my way to get Brady.
When I arrived at the office he was there waiting for me…with a HUGE bandage wrapped around his head and over his left eye. I hugged him and signed him out and spoke quickly to his teacher and the nurse, both of whom thanked me for being so calm. I’m glad I looked calm, because I didn’t really feel calm. I felt like I needed to do whatever needed to be done, but I did NOT feel calm. So off I went with Brady and Declan to the Urgent Care which is, thankfully, two blocks from school and right across the street from our building.
Somewhere in there I had called the husband and he arrived from work just as we got into the exam room. It was a good thing because when the doctor unravelled that bandage I was wholly unprepared for the wound hiding underneath. I’ll spare you the gory details, but it was basically a 1 inch by 1 inch hole in his forehead above his left eyebrow. I took in the sight of it and leaned back against the wall, keeping one hand firmly on Brady’s the whole time. I am not good with blood. Actually that is an understatement. I am HORRIBLE with blood. It is a good thing I never attempted to enter into the health profession. This kind of mangled flesh on my own child was just…wow. It was gross and painful and shocking and just pure awful. The doctor looked it over and called the husband into the hallway to tell him that we needed to call in a plastic surgeon for this one.
We had to wait for the surgeon. A friend came and got Declan for us, for which I am so very grateful. Brady was in good spirits in the waiting room, chatting and playing games on my phone. But once we were back in the room with the surgeon, he sort of freaked. The surgeon probed the cut, moving it from side-to-side as I tried to look Brady in the eye with a calm demeanor without looking at all at the blood. The worst part was to come…lidocaine. I, personally, HATE lidocaine with the fire of a thousand suns, which is approximately what it feels like when it’s injected into my body. I braced myself, but I wasn’t ready. When the doctor began injecting the wound, Brady flipped…the eff…out!
The husband and I laid over his body to keep him still as he screamed and tried to escape. I knew it hurt. I tried to look at him and be reassuring. He howled in pain and the needle slipped and we covered him. I felt nauseous and light headed. I knew my face was white. I kept my place until the injections were done and he was numb. Then I kept my arm across his legs and sat in the chair behind me before I lost it and found myself lying on the floor next to the table.
I was transported to a day at the beginning of my second grade year. To an exam room in a hospital where a doctor was putting x-ray films up on a lighted wall. I was amazed by the jutting bone I saw in the knee up there on the wall. I turned to my mother who was ghostly white and grasping for the chair behind her. In that second I knew exactly how she felt that day. That horrible realization that your child is injured. Like, really hurt, not a scrape or a cut or bump or bruise. That sick horrific feeling of not being able to do a single thing to make it go away and knowing you have to go through the painful process that will make it heal. It is a feeling one thousand times more awful than the sick you might feel when you yourself are injured.
I healed. I had two surgeries and have one heck of a scar on my knee to show for them. I spent 5 days in the hospital, missed 6 weeks of school, went to physical therapy. Brady’s healing process will be significantly less traumatic. He got several layers of stitches, for the several layers of flesh that were split open. He can’t participate in any sports or other physical stuff this week for fear of reopening the wound. He’ll have the non-dissolvable stitches out on Friday. He will have a scar, but it will be light and fine. We assure him it will be rock-star cool.
While he won’t have the complicated healing process I did when I was in second grade, I’m not sure the scar on my heart will be much lighter than the one my mother carries. I know she must see that x-ray each time she sees the line running down the side of my right knee as I’m sure I’ll see that needle when I look at the line on Brady’s forehead. Both my mother and I are lucky that these were injuries that heal. Some parents get a much tougher lot. But seeing your child’s body broken in any way is, just, traumatic. Kids get stitches. They break bones. They play and they fall and they break and then they heal. It is life. They accumulate scars just as we all do; reminders of falling off a bike, or running into someone in gym, or a door slammed shut at the wrong moment. Parents carry the scars as well; the scars of seeing open flesh and crooked wrists, of stemming the blood with a t-shirt and of rushing to the doctor. Sometimes, it feels as if my children are drifting away from me. That each day they take one more step from needing me. But as far as they walk on their own, they will always be a part of me. They left their scars on my body with their birth and scars on my heart with their lives. And I cherish them all.