|Photo Credit: imelenchon from morgueFile.com|
Has anyone out there fallen off a bar stool? Surely back in the day, someone had one too many late one night and misjudged the location of the chair to place their derrière? Maybe? Maybe not? If it sounds familiar, the night might have ended with a few good laughs and a sore buttocks. If it doesn’t, you’ve witnessed such a thing at the very least. My bar stool story, on the other hand, is a very different and much scarier one.
Last week, my almost-4-year-old-daughter climbed up on a bar stool to enjoy supper with her brother, sister, and cousin at Nanny and Popo’s. My husband and I were doing the waiter-waitress-dance trying to get everyone what they needed. Of course, the kids are always done eating before we even finish making our plates. So, in true form, they had all licked their plates clean. That’s when it happened.
One second, we looked up and saw all four kiddos sitting there. The next second, we looked up and someone was missing. My little one had fallen backwards off the bar stool and hit her head on the floor. Oh, she cried and cried. (I wanted to cry too, but I had to maintain some semblance of composure for her sake.) I tried to soothe her. Daddy tried to soothe her. We finally talked her into feeding the dogs some treats outside. We also coaxed her with some candy. Yep, we did.
She kept saying how tired she was and that her head hurt. We tried to rationalize everything. On the tired meter of 1 to 10, she was definitely a 20 because of the days leading up to this incident. We had spent some fun time out of town with cousins and stayed up past midnight a couple of nights in a row, plus no naps. She even fell asleep on the way to Nanny and Popo’s that evening. So, the recipe for fatigue was certainly there. So, of course she was tired (we kept telling ourselves).
BUT! It became harder and harder to rationalize as the evening went on. Thirty minutes after the fall, she kept complaining of her head hurting and that she just wanted to sleep. (Of course, we rationalized, she just cried buckets and she’s tired.) Then, the situation became complicated. She threw up. I knew then that we were maybe dealing with something more serious. (We tried not to overreact, but it was becoming nearly impossible for me not to. We thought – well, maybe she threw up because she just ate hungry-man-sized portions and then cried her heart out.) However, my mommy radar went up and I knew it was Emergency Room time. We had to rule some things out – the first being a concussion.
With my heart racing at 200 beats per second (it’s possible), my husband and I left the older two at Nanny and Popo’s and we quickly headed to the ER with our daughter. I drove and my husband sat in the back seat by our youngest, trying to keep her awake. By this time, she was almost impossible to awaken (was it because of her extreme fatigue or the fall?). Oh, how I prayed.
The 30-minute trip to town seemed to take FOREVER! It felt like DAYS and DAYS! Of course, that’s when there was a hiccup in our trip. I heard a loud siren and saw flashing lights. (Oh my gosh, you’ve got to be kidding me?!) I pulled over like a law-abiding citizen, although I really didn’t feel like I had the time to. The officer approached my car cautiously. He asked if I had been drinking and if there was a reason for my haste. Luckily I answered in the right order…I said, “No and Yes.” Can you imagine if I had answered, “Yes and No?” Oh mercy!! Anyhow, he graciously let me go after I explained the situation. He told me to drive with my hazard lights on and to be careful.
We finally arrived at the ER (felt like a month had passed!) and she threw up again…all over my husband. Of course, he didn’t care. We were so afraid that something was terribly wrong with our sweet child. Priorities change when you fear for your child’s life. Wearing vomit is completely fine. We hurried to check-in. The ER nurse was a God-send. He calmly said, “I’ll take her. You can take the bucket (of puke).” It did put just a teeny-tiny, much needed smile on my face.
The nurse was so kind. He was composed. He knew what he was doing. He took care of my baby girl. I tried to answer all of his questions as calmly and rationally as I could. He had no idea that I was a complete and utter disaster on the inside and that I quite possibly might stroke out at any moment. I guess ER nurses and docs don’t freak out about anything. And, I thank God for that.
Our daughter was quickly seen by a Physician’s Assistant who was also calm, cool, and collected. She examined our sleeping sweetheart as I explained all of the variables as to why else (besides a concussion) she might have thrown up and be presenting so lethargic. She listened intently. She looked me straight in the eyes when she spoke. She made me feel at peace. I knew she would take care of her.
She basically gave us two options. She said we could, considering the circumstances I had explained, observe her for awhile longer. Or, we could do a CT scan and rule out a brain bleed. (Oh mercy! A brain bleed?!) But then she explained some of the risks of a CT scan on such a small child. She said it is a high dose of radiation for such a little one and that the radiation would stay with her her whole life. I worried about the link between radiation and cancer down the road. But, the PA felt that one CT scan probably wouldn’t cause any major problems. She said that our daughter’s lethargy and vomiting were unsettling and couldn’t be dismissed.
No one tells you when you have a baby that you will be making all kinds of major decisions for them for much of their young life. Decisions, decisions, decisions. And no one can possibly explain the feeling of having your heart walk around outside of your body. No one.
It might be an obvious decision for you. But, for us, the decision of CT scan vs. no CT scan seemed impossible at the time. So many emotions. Here, we had a daughter who appeared to be sleeping, but might be going into a coma instead. And, we weren’t sure about the huge dose of radiation that may or may not cause cancer in the long run. I mean, this was not a do-you-want-fries-with-that-decision for us. The PA was unbelievably patient as we discussed our options back and forth. I asked her for a moment alone. I prayed, “Dear Lord, if you can, please just give us an obvious sign of what to do here. We need you. Help us make this decision.”
Ask and you shall receive. At just that moment, the nurse who admitted us came by our room to check on us. I told him we were trying to decide about the CT scan. He said, “You should do it. It’s better to be safe than sorry. You’ll feel better knowing if anything is wrong.” Then, he walked away.
Angels in scrubs. That’s who was with us that night in the ER. I have no doubt. We had our answer.
We went ahead with the CT scan. We prayed. My family prayed. We waited. We prayed some more. We waited. We finally got word that her scan was negative. No bleed. No swelling. Praise the Lord! I said prayers of thanksgiving. We were so relieved. I thanked God for taking care of our daughter. I also prayed for parents who didn’t get negative results after their child’s scan that night. I prayed that the Lord continue to send angels in scrubs to all worried moms and dads who sit in waiting rooms, hospitals, and ERs.
I’m blessed to report that our daughter is back to her silly, spicy, sweet, and adorable self. However, I desperately want to put all of my children in helmets, shoulder pads, knee pads, shin guards, mouth guards, and elbow pads and wrap them in rolls of toilet paper. I wish I could always protect them from all harm. I’m feeling a little overly protective this week. Can ya blame me?
I do have some food for thought after all of this. Do we protect our souls with the same fervor? Our bodies will only last this lifetime. Am I protecting my soul, my children’s soul, my husband’s soul enough? How much care do we actually give to our souls? Hmmmm…
No Sips next week. Be sure to spread some sunshine in your own corner of the world!