Sunday, February 10, 2008

A child ... falls down ...

She grew so fast! She was speaking in complete sentences by the time she was nine months old. We said, "She's going to be the first woman president!" (Is there a parent alive who hasn't said such a thing about their child?)

She was insatiably curious -- and, as she became more mobile, we became quite concerned about her safety and well-being. Constant vigilance is required, isn't it, but is it even possible?

Well, one day she was left on her own -- it couldn't have been a minute! -- and discovered through her own lab experiment that, if she shook a Coke bottle hard enough (remember when they were made of glass?), it would develop this delightful 'fizz', all those nice bubbles. It was while she was still shaking the bottle and admiring the result when it exploded!

I can hear that sound to this day. Glass was everywhere! There was a large piece of glass embedded just below the knee on one of her legs. We were really fortunate that a piece of glass did not lodge in one or both of her eyes!!

We debated whether or not we should take her to the doctor for stitches, and decided, "No, a bandage -- albeit a large one -- should do." Well, it did, but -- as often will happen with children, she would fall, the cut would re-open, we would re-bandage, and so on. To this day, she has a fairly good-sized scar just below the knee on one of her legs. We should have gone to the doctor.

Once, in a very controlled situation, we allowed her to experience 'hot' -- not enough to be burned, but I know it hurt. One of our friends criticized us for doing that, adding, "Are you going to allow her to run out in the street and experience being run over by a car so she knows what THAT would feel like, as well?"

Of course we would never even consider doing such a thing, and we thought the remark was outrageous! At the same time, it did make us rethink our actions.

In her second year of life, she experienced just about every common childhood disease known to man, I think, even roseola. Except for the extremely high fever that accompanied the roseola, all were uneventful but the mumps. She was a chubby child, and we didn't even know that she was ill -- she wasn't 'acting' sick!

By the time we finally realized that she had the mumps, a secondary infection had developed (both sides) and abscesses formed. The doctor told us -- we had run to him immediately when it became obvious that something was very wrong! -- that two different scenarios might play themselves out here, the most optimum being that they would "pop" and drain naturally. Doesn't that sound just yukky?

We were to wait a few days and hope for the best. Meanwhile, the abscesses were getting more and more discolored. We were afraid to use a pullover shirt, positive that we would hurt her. The doctor assured us that everything was under control, that we should clothe her normally, that there was no pain. Indeed, she did not appear to have any discomfort. It just seemed impossible to us that she would not have any!

A few days went by, and -- as she was sound asleep one night -- one of the abscesses did 'pop' and drain (and yes, it was yukky, but it was a good yukky). The doctor advised us to wait another day or so for the other one to follow suit. It did not, and surgery was scheduled.

I detest hospitals! Hospitals are wonderful things when you need them, but I don't want to ever need one, particularly if my own child is involved. (Yes, I know I was in a hospital once to deliver my child, but that was a completely separate, joyous, and totally unrelated event!) In this instance, it was my child who was going to have anesthesia, my child whose body was going to be cut into, my child who would be at risk!

I was beside myself with worry. I paced up and down the hallways, trying not to cry, but felt tears streaming down my cheeks nonetheless. At the same time, I felt a little foolish. Parents were there whose children were experiencing far more serious problems than mine, some who might not fully recover (if they recovered at all!), but I was only vaguely aware of their concerns. I was totally focused on my own child.

When something (anything!) bad happens to your child -- particularly if you're a mother, I think -- it's like you've been kicked in the stomach, and the pain that ensues doesn't ever seem to want to go away. You castigate yourself incessantly with awful thoughts, like, "Should I have seen this?" "How could this have been avoided?" "I must be the world's worst mother!"

Well, she came out of the operation just fine. There's a scar, of course, but you have to be really looking for it. In both instances described in somewhat vivid detail here, I was, in essence, at fault.

1 comment:

Tammy said...

It's amazing that we, as parents, can survive the traumas/sicknesses/owies that our children go through. I think most of those incidents traumatize the parents far worse than the children!