This morning around 10:00 am, Ethan woke up from his morning nap. Caleb jumped up from the play dough creation he was focused on and exclaimed, "Ethan's up! It's snack time!" He bolted up the six stairs from the play room to the kitchen and opened the pantry in search of a can of fruit (Monday's are grocery shopping day so we were completely out of fresh fruit). He lifts out the first can he finds and promptly drops it, from his shoulder heighth, straight down onto his little toe. He starts screaming, so I move over to assess the damage. Somehow, the top edge of the sealed can had sliced right through his baby toe, almost to the bone. I gasp to see his toe opened up like that and the blood pulsing out. There was so much blood and the cut part was so grotesquely folded away from his body, that I was afraid the toe was barely hanging on. I sucked in my breath in horror and for a moment was afraid I was going to faint, but then I remembered "PRESSURE"! I grabbed a clean dish towel and pulled a writhing, screaming Caleb into my lap, folded the toe into the dish towel and held on. Then I calmed Caleb with holding and whispering soothing words to him. We sat there like that for about five minutes while I thought about how I was going to drive him to the ER while applying pressure. I had no idea, so I carried him downstairs (while holding the toe) so I could page Marcus. Marcus called back right away and I poured it all out to him. It sounded something like this:
"Caleb split his toe open and it looks like it's barely hanging on and it's bleeding through the dish towel and I don't know how I can drive him and Ethan to the ER while applying pressure to the toe and Ethan is still in his crib and I don't know where the ER is!!!"
Marcus calmed me down by assuring me that Caleb would be okay, and that the toe would eventually stop bleeding. He instructed me to keep applying pressure until it stopped bleeding, then bandage it up the best I could and drive the boys to the ER. He also told me to call our friend who is a pediatricion at Childrens' Hospital (once I got the kids in the car) to ask if the Childrens ER was the right place to go.
A plan was exactly what I needed. After we hung up, I checked the toe and was able to see that, though it was badly cut, it was not hanging by a thread as I originally feared. But it was still doing a lot of bleeding, so I applied pressure for a while longer until I could see no more fresh blood. Then I bandaged it up (mostly just to cover it), put Caleb in a chair with his blankie, and sprinted up the stairs to get Ethan. Ethan was a bit peeved about having to wait so long in his crib after his nap, and was even less happy when I skipped all of our little waking-up games and whisked him down the stairs. I had the presence of mind to fill up two cups and toss a bag of goldfish into the diaper bag while Ethan and Caleb cried. (Later, when I was trying to entertain Ethan for hours in the ER, I was very glad I did that.)
We were in the car and driving by 10:30. That's when I got around to calling our pediatrician-friend. He said that the only place to get stitches is the ER. Then I called our pediatrican's office, just to make sure, and they also told me to head to the ER. Next, I called my mom, since I still only knew the general direction of Childrens' Hospital. She looked up directions online for me and helped me find my way there. As soon as I pulled up, I was very pleasantly surprised to see that the Children's ER has free valet parking, which I took immediate advantage of. Though it felt like it took me five minutes to get the kids, diaper bag, and stroller out of the car, especially since neither of the boys were very happy. I felt like the valet guy had never seen such a slow emergency!
Anyway, we finally got inside and checked in. They called us back within about 20 minutes, though it would be a full 2 1/2 hours before we were able to head home. They took Caleb's stats and gave him some Motrin for the pain, though by now he had calmed down (no small credit due to the TV in the ER waiting room). Everyone was extremely kind and did their best to put Caleb at ease, which also of course put me at ease. He was actually enjoying all of the attention for the first hour, until they actually got down to business. At some during this hour, Marcus arrived (he was able to slip out of clinic and come over to the ER). I was so relieved when he walked in that the nurse laughed a big belly laugh and said "You sho happy to see 'im!"
Soon afterwards, the nurse and doctor came back in and put Caleb in a constraining papoose so they could numb the toe, irrigate it, and then stitch it up. He screamed bloody murder during the numbing "block", which was a series of six or so injections in and around his little toe. They had told me it would be two sticks, so that's what I told Caleb and prepared him for. He tried to be brave for those first two sticks, and then I told him there would be no more "ouchies" and the doctors were all done sticking him. He smiled so gratefully and said "Thank you Thank you, Mama!" Then his face contorted and I looked down to see the nurse sticking him again. He could barely get it out, but he screamed "YOU---SAID--ALL--DONE!!!!! PLEASE---MAKE---IT--STOP!!!!" This was by far the worst part for me because I was right there in his face and I didn't know what to tell him because I didn't know what they were going to do or how many more times they would need to inject him, and I felt like I'd lied to him at a traumatic moment. It was bad. He continued to scream until they stopped injecting him several minutes later. This was definitely the worst part.
But after the toe was numbed, our good friend Brad Troxler (the aforementioned pediatrician who had come down to the ER to provide us with some moral support), went and rummaged up a Veggie Tales DVD for Caleb to watch while they cleaned, disinfected, stitched up and bandaged his toe. Once again, the TV worked like a charm, and there were no more tears.
The whole thing was as much an adventure for me as it was for Caleb. I was a very cautious child and never had stitches or surgery or any sort of hospital stay at all (until I gave birth to Caleb). I'm very glad we both survived with no regrets!