Friday, August 10, 2007

Uh Oh!

Last night we had an uh oh. They happen occasionally in families, and while I think I have become more capable at assessing bodily damage as a result of my experiences, it never ceases to rattle me when my child is genuinely hurt.

Christopher and I were upstairs with the littles when we suddenly heard a piercing scream from Hannah below. We both started for the stairs, and when we turned the corner of the hallway we could see the reflection of Hannah leaning over the sink in the bathroom with blood pouring out of her mouth. This is not good, I thought. Poor Bethany was in such a state of shock that it took us several minutes to learn what had happened.

Apparently the girls were playing with Hannah's bath towel when Bethany pulled it one way, anticipating Hannah would let go, but when she didn't she went careening into the sidearm of the couch, hitting her chin and mouth so hard she bit through her lip. Uh oh seems slightly insufficient... dear God, would more accurately describe the scene. We knew Hannah would need stitches.

As I drove Hannah to the hospital shock was keeping her mouth numb from the pain, but the mental image of stitches was scaring her to death. We prayed that God would give us a kind physician with gentle hands, a sweet temperament, and as pain-free a procedure as possible. I must admit, I also offered up my prayers that she would not be too badly scarred.

She calmed down considerably after praying, and actually began to joke about the ordeal. She was quite proud that she would have stitches like her friends who had traversed this road before her. And she remembered as well, that Grandpa had fallen down stairs, and bitten through his lip.

We hung out in the ER for a few hours, doing the normal "rush & wait" routine. When we were seen by the doctor our fears were confirmed that she punctured the entire lip, and would need a three-layer suture closure. The doctor explained the procedure, and very gently noted that the application of the anesthesia would be the most painful experience of the entire operation. Hannah was very stoic in the face of the information, and the physician even mentioned how calm she was for her age. However, after he left Hannah began to get understandably anxious, and wanted to know every ounce of detail relating to the upcoming event. Hannah's mode of emotional management tends to be utmost control in the face of anything, so watching her fight back tears as she asked about how badly it would hurt just about broke my heart.

When the nurse, and doctor came back to our room Hannah was ready. She quietly followed their directions, and prepared for the operation. The nurse, a gentle man who had children her age at home, was very friendly, even if he bordered on the patronizing. About half way through the procedure he finally caught on that we are not a big, "sugar-coat the truth" family, and realized I was accurately describing to Hannah what the doctor was about to do at each step. We believe that education, even in the face of trauma, helps to alleviate the unknown, so at least you are only dealing with the fear of the real, and not the imagined worst. The doctor was very supportive of this, and worked with me to tell Hannah exactly when she would be feeling different sensations.

The administration of the topical anaesthesia was painful, but complete. I was nervous it might not be as utterly thorough as necessary, and she would still feel the pain of the stitches. This was Christopher's experience, and with the same doctor! But God heard my pleas, and once the medicine took effect she didn't feel anything! I won't go into the exploratory nature necessary to determine the extent of the damage, but suffice it to say the through-and-through aspect of the wound had to be confirmed.

God is good. The physician was impressed with the cleanliness of the puncture, and the number of stitches initially thought necessary was almost cut in half. The diagnosis for scarring was also revised, and Hannah should see no visible signs of the incident within a few years. Her driver's license picture is safe *wink*.

We arrived home some 3 hours later, record time for most ER visits, and Hannah was greeted by her very concerned sister Bethany, who had insisted on staying up until we returned. Bethany had been so distraught over her possible responsibility in the affair that only praying for the safety, and well-being of Hannah during our absence alleviated her mind. She made Hannah a beautiful "get better" picture, and presented it to her the minute we walked in the door.

We are all grateful for the little miracles God sees fit to work on our behalf every day. Hannah took 4 stitches, one on the inside of her mouth, and 3 to close the outer wound. But that was significantly less than originally feared. She will have virtually no scar, and her medical team was sensitive during the entire procedure. She and I had a neat chance to read, chat, and pray together which doesn't come along in uninterrupted quantities very often. And now she has an even poutier bottom lip to go with her sweet smile - at least for the next week or so!

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