WARNING: This post contains gory photos. Not the “it’s almost Halloween” kind, but the “my kid cracked her head open” kind.
My kids love to jump on the bed. I don’t like them to, but most of the time they disregard my directives. Last night my three year old daughter was doing just that when I heard a thud, a pause, and howling. Running into the room, I didn’t like what I saw. Blood pouring down her face, in her eye, and what looked like a star-shaped melon baller chunk out of her forehead. I managed to keep my voice neutral, although I’m sure my face held the bulk of my horror (that luckily she couldn’t see through the blood), scooped her up, and ran to the bathroom. After plopping her on the closed toilet seat, I gently mopped the eye area with a wad of toilet paper and was relived to see her eye wasn’t damaged, just her forehead right above her eyebrow.
It definitely needed stitches. I thought. Maybe. No, definitely. I couldn’t tell if my parental panic was clouding my judgement, so I called my good friend who happens to live directly across the street. “Lily just fell off the bed and cut her head. I think it needs stitches,” I started. “I’ll come get Graham,” she interrupted and was in my house within the minute. I had called for a second opinion, not even thinking about what to do with my five year old son. She knew what I needed before I did. She agreed with my assessment, everyone put on shoes, Graham went across the street, while Lily and I headed to pick up my husband from work and go to the doctor.
Lily was a trooper. She held the paper towel to her head in the car, and told me “It doesn’t hurt so bad anymore.” She shared her story with the doctors and nurses. “I was jumping on my Mom and Dad’s bed, and then my legs were on the bed, and my belly and my hands were on the floor, and my head (slow, sad voice) was on the radiator.” Her sweet voice and endearing disposition charmed the nurses, the resident, and the doctor, and they could not get enough of her. She cried three times. Once, when a medical professional leaving for the night was walking through the waiting room, saw L’s bloody head, grimaced, and said “Oh my.” Immediate tears. Come on, lady. Everyone knows the number one rule of managing childhood injury is to pretend it doesn’t look bad. The second time Lily cried was when the nurse reminded her to not touch her cut, and the third time was the worst. By far the hardest I’d seen her cry all night. That was when her dad took a bite of her popsicle.
Here’s what I was thinking last night: Thank God we have outstanding insurance and access to good health care. I can’t imagine the terror that mothers must feel who don’t have these two things for their children. My husband’s employer provides insurance that requires no deductible and no co-pay except for prescriptions. Lily’s stitches cost us the same amount as the four days she spent in the NICU after she was born. Nothing. For a family that has pretty much no disposable income, this is a blessing.
Lily left the emergency room with five stitches, a stuffed bear, the hearts of the staff, and purple lips from her grape popsicle. I left with relief, gratitude, and a thankful soul. Thankful for friends who are available in a crisis, thankful for a child with a sweet spirit and an intact eye, and thankful for access to affordable and reliable health care. I saw this sculpture on the way out, and it could not have summed up my emotions more perfectly.