Small Talk

ER visit

April 26th, 2010

We ended our eight day vacation to LA with a late night visit to the West Los Angeles emergency room. The story starts Friday evening, when the Lees wanted to go to Trader Joe's. I put Olivia to bed and left her home with Aunty Karen. This was at 8 pm.


When we got home at 10, the noise and lights woke her up. It was my fault, but having three cousins darting in and out of the room didn't help. I couldn't close the door because the women and some children were sharing a room. The kids always want to play, so in pretty short order, she woke up and they were bouncing around the bed. We were sharing a bathroom so there was a line while people prepared for sleeping.

Minutes before it happened

Minutes before it happened

She and Carson were on the air mattress on the ground, taking turns pushing each other down onto the bed and slapping each other's butts. Harmless enough. Except, this air mattress was six inches away from the real bed, and the kids were at the foot of the bed.

Air mattress was here

Air mattress was here

When it was Olivia's turn to get slapped down, she was in the process of moving around, and Carson didn't realize it. He slapped her back, and she lost her balance and fell down. She tried to steady herself on the edge of the bed, but being an air mattress, it collapsed. I have very little experience with air mattresses, but in the two nights I slept on it, I myself fell off it twice because I went to sit at the edge and it gave way. So I know it's totally unstable.

Head hit this corner of bed- where I pulled up the bed skirt

Head hit this corner of metal frame- see where I pulled up the bed skirt

Unfortunately, she fell down, and the left side of her face hit the corner of the metal bed frame. To make matters worse, the frame was not flush with the box spring, so her head was more able to connect with the metal. If there was a box spring there it might have been more of a barrier, you know?

I saw the whole thing. I was too far away to catch her. I suspected she would hit the metal. And in the split second later when she did hit, I heard the thud, and knew it was bad. My heart sank.

Head injury

There was a pause, and then major crying. I ran over to pick her up, and saw the gash was white. I cussed and picked her up. I ran into the living room where the adults were. "I need a bandage and some ice," I said calmly, while inside I was crying. The gash was bleeding big drops of scarlet down her face. Head wounds always bleed a lot, I told myself. Don't freak.


We iced her down and wiped the blood off. She was whimpering a lot. The other children were crowding around trying to be helpful with offering tissue, holding her hand, or just rubbernecking.

The bleeding didn't stop. We called my friend, who's a nurse. She looked at the photo we e mailed over but couldn't tell how deep it was. She advised us to go in to the ER.

So at 11 o' clock on a Friday night, three women and a toddler checked into the West Los Angeles ER. Pat stayed behind with the other kids. Val drove and Karen navigated. "Karen," I said, "Now you can tell your coworkers you had a wild weekend that ended with a trip to the emergency room!"

It was a fairly quick visit. The doctor, who happened to have worked on Oahu and wants to leave LA for Kauai (can't blame him!), said I could give her stitches or Dermabond. I thought the glue would be less traumatic. We were out by 1 a.m.

Olivia hasn't forgotten about the boo-boo, but it became a source of attention for her. I let her eat chocolate for breakfast. The other kids made a fuss over her. We called it her special Disneyland souvenir. I think she got over it pretty quickly.



You wanna know what's more of a lasting trauma? I stepped on the hospital scale while we were waiting and saw that I had gained five pounds over the trip. AAAAACK. I knew we were not eating healthy, with a steady staple of snacks, desserts, and theme park burgers. I tried to fight it but after a while, I got tired, and plus, everyone else was doing it, so I caved to peer pressure. And now, I pay the price.

Why I gained weight!

Why I gained weight!


But on a  serious note. I was really upset by the laceration. I know it was totally an accident and I don't blame anyone. I know every child will get some bumps and scrapes, and this is really just a minor incident. But as my first real mom-trauma, it did affect me.


To complicate things, I was just entering an emotional part of the month. We were at the Ronald Reagan Library that day, and I was tearing up at the beauty of his patriotism. Hello? I'm not even Republican. So this sets the stage. I did what I needed to do but I was weeping inside.

Because of my years of reporter training, I'm excellent at compartmentalizing. I am task-oriented and can get through the crisis, and then fall apart later. Not that I fell apart over news stories, but I've had to use this skill several times during my aging parents' medical issues in the past few years. I found my dad in a diabetic coma and instead of panicking, I did what needed to be done, and then cried later from the stress.

I'm still upset by it. The doctor put a bandage over the wound so that she wouldn't touch it for a few days, and I stalled in removing it. "Aren't you curious to see what it looks like?" Val asked. "No. It hurts me to see it," I responded.

Finally, on the fourth day, my nurse friend told me to take off the bandage to make sure the wound was healing properly. It hurt me all over to look at it.

It's funny, how I thought I was such a tough chick who could handle just about anything. Claus takes all kinds of spills and I tend him. My parents have health crises and I manage that. All those gory news stories. Helping with the corpse cosmetology at Claus' mortuary. Nothing really bothered me. I'm quite matter-of-fact.

Then this. My little girl gets hurt and cries big tears and it just kills me. I remind myself that the guy in the next room at the ER had cut his thumb off in a work-related injury. The adult in me appreciates that perspective. The mom in me doesn't care; all I know is that my baby is hurt and I want to make it better.

"Well, get used to it. There's going to be more bumps and falls in the coming years," Val warned.


If this is any indicator, oh man. Will *I* make it through?!?


Also reach me via

11 Responses to “ER visit”

  1. Sam Urai:

    She's such a cutie, I would have been upset if I was Claus. I'm not surprised at your emotions. A lot of you tough, no nonsense women are really sensitive inside and that's great!!!

  2. gigi-hawaii:

    I felt the same way when my 2 year old daughter jumped into the pool and sank to the bottom. When she was brought to the surface, her skin was blue-gray and she was not breathing.

    Not knowing CPR, I laid her on the deck and pumped her back. Water gushed out of her mouth and she awoke.

    I took her to the ER and she was admitted to the hospital for observation. Xrays were taken; they showed water was still in her lungs. Since she was so young, I had to sleep next to her. Next morning, xrays showed no water in her lungs and she was discharged.


  3. kanakakuuna:

    i'm not looking 4ward 2 gaining 5 lbs next spring. Diane, u r a great mom. i'm filled w/ emotions from reading about Olivia's trip 2 the ER. i'm a dad and i doubt i'll ever get used 2 it.

  4. Rodney Lee:

    As a parent, you want to be there to protect them. All the time. But you know that's not possible. Accidents will happen. And when they do, you feel like you've let them down. You feel like you've let yourself down. It probably hurts you more than it hurts them. And it should - because you love them. Because they are a part of you, you share their pain.

    And after you've apologized to them over and over again, and you feel there is nothing more that you can do to let them know how much you care - you let them eat chocolate for breakfast. Or buy them a new toy. Or hug them a little tighter.

    I think it's called Growing Pains...

  5. NEO:

    @Rodney wasn't that one TV show back in da day?

    On a more serious note, Diane, not to worry, Olivia will trip and fall from time to time, she'll break bones, get cuts and scratches, and you'll always be there for her, because you're her mother... The worst is going to be when she breaks up with her first boyfriend, because then, there will be no emergency room for you to take her to, you'll just have to wing it, and I know you'll be fine, since you are "just that awesome!"



  6. Rodney Lee:

    @NEO - Yes, that was a sitcom that ran in the late 80's. I never did watch it though.

    Good point - that when Olivia's heart is broken by some guy, Diane will have to be there to ease the pain. I'm sure there's nothing that a little shopping won't heal (like chocolate for breakfast). 😉

  7. RONW:

    that hurts

  8. Ynaku:

    I went through trauma with both my kids. My daughter broke her arm couple of times falling off the monkey bars. That was so difficult to see her in a cast.

    My son went on a school field trip to Waipio Valley and got wounded by a stick in the taro patch. Drove all the way from Hilo and met him to the clinic in Honokaa. They cleaned him up there and stiched the wound. Couple of days later he got an infection from the wound. Apparently, not all the dirty stuff was cleaned and since they stitched it up, the infection had no way to drain. He got infected by E-coli and had to spend time in the hospital. He's ok, and his leg healed.

    Both times, I sucked it up but it certainly kills you on the inside. We try to be strong for them but it is hard.

    Now I have a grand-daughter that I watch with an eagle eye whenever she comes over. Papa gotta take care my little babies 😀

    Your daughter is such a cutie. Keep doing what you're doing.

  9. Eric:

    She was very lucky to have missed hitting her eye. You are a good Mom.

  10. Maxcat:

    glad she's okay

  11. robert:

    As a parent of two I know the gutwrenching agony you felt in that moment and all the "I should have dones" that play through your head thereafter. I am glad it turned out okay in the end.

    By the way, take a close you at your two pictures (1st and 3rd from the top). You will notice that there are faint "orbs" in them. People often mistake these as being dust particles. If you blow them up to a large scale on your computer and look at them very closely you might be surprised that there could be faces in them. These are believed by many to be the manifestations of family members from the past visiting.

Leave a Reply

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. Because only subscribers are allowed to comment, we have your personal information and are able to contact you. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email

Recent Posts

Recent Comments