By Diane Ako
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?!?
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