... don't ever cut the bottom of your foot.
At about 4:30 last Friday afternoon, I was upstairs in my bedroom trying to decide if I had the energy to make something difficult for dinner (or make dinner at all) when I heard a scream from the backyard. I looked out and saw Calvin racing around the trampoline like he was being chased by wild cheetahs. This is something he does regularly, so I thought nothing of it until I realized he was screaming, "I stepped on glass! I stepped on glass!" Rather than, "A cheetah is going to get me!" I wasted time pondering why he would be running around on an injured foot, and by the time I recovered from my wonder, he was in my bedroom, blood and dirt everywhere.
Without much sympathy, I sighed and got out the first aid kit, instructing Calvin to hold still and get on the floor.
Then I saw his foot. Blood was everywhere because he had sliced it open in three places, each cut well over an inch long. One of the cuts was a good two inches.
He had jumped off the deck railing and landed right on a glass jar that had once held a bean plant, smashing it and cutting himself up. I had an enthusiastic audience of four giving me all the details. Crowding over me to see the gory results.
I am squeamish. Very, very squeamish. This squeamishness has two effects. First, it makes me shudder and hold my head as far away from blood as possible. Second, it makes me laugh. Giggle might be a better word.
"Okay," I said. Giggle, giggle. "Everything's going to be okay. Calvin, you're not going to die." Giggle. "Lucy, go get me a towel. Quickly. We've got to stop this bleeding so he doesn't bleed to death." Giggle. "The rest of you, go away. This is very stressful." Giggle.
Sam, I thought. Where is Sam? Virginia. Another state. Two hours away at least. Sam is the one in our family who does injuries. Sam does large wounds. Sam carries sick and wounded children around in his arms like a hero while I hide in the bathroom and giggle. And Sam was too far away to help.
I called him anyway.
"Do you know where the nearest urgent care is?" I said. "Calvin's sliced up his foot and he's bleeding and it's really bad. Lots of bleeding. There's a lot of blood. It's really bad."
"Shoot. No. Are you okay? Do you want me to call someone? Here, I can pull over and get out my GPS and look it up for you—do you want me to do that? Shoot. Do you want me to call someone? Here, I'm trying to look it up. Oh, shoot, it's a green light."
I wanted him to magically transport himself here so I didn't have to do this. I did not want him to pull over on the side of the road and fumble around on his iphone. "No!" I said, or maybe shouted. "I don't want you to call somebody! There is blood everywhere! I've got to go." I hung up.
I called a neighbor and she gave me her favorite urgent care and the directions which I didn't understand in the slightest, so I had Lucy bring me my laptop while Calvin continued to moan and shake and complain. "Mom!" he cried, as I opened up my laptop. "I'm bleeding!" I think he thought I was checking my email.
I explained that I was looking up urgent cares and their hours. I don't think I giggled as I said this, though I might have shouted a little. After figuring out where the urgent care was and that we had an hour to get there, we tied an old tie around the very bloody, bedraggled towel wrapped around Calvin's foot. Then we sort of slid/dragged/hobbled Calvin down the stairs and out to the van. I told the girls I would buy them a cake at Costco the next day if they cleaned the house, made dinner, and took care of everyone until Sam or I got home. It would be chocolate if no one died.
Then I drove Calvin to the urgent care. Calvin, when in pain, likes to know what is going to happen. The entire time I was peppered with questions about whether or not he was going to be okay. How much stitches would hurt. If we were going to get lost, because we got lost that one time. How long this would take (that was extremely important to him).
I slid/dragged/hobbled him from the car to the urgent care where I was met with forms in another language (who is the guarantor and what in the heck is a Patient AKA? for example) and a cramped waiting room. People were obviously impressed with our clever use of towel and tie. They were also probably impressed with Calvin's other foot, which was bare except for a thick layer of dirt, and the hygienic state of the rest of his body. Only a few people actually shifted chairs to get away from us.
Just to show them, I whipped out my purse and pulled out a book for Calvin to read and a book for myself to read, because, hey, we may be filthy, but we are literate.
The wait wasn't bad, and we were soon taken back to a lovely room with posters of venomous snakes and spiders to beware of. This was heaven for Calvin and we nearly forgot why we were there in our excitement until the nurse came in. She seemed very impressed with our towel/tie/hygiene.
She checked Calvin's foot. Then the physician's assistant checked his foot. Then the doctor came in to check Calvin's foot. There were many weighty glances and a little whispering. I was confused at their obvious perplexity. The bleeding had stopped. The cuts were huge and they obviously needed stitches, but they didn't look that bad to me.
The doctor pulled me out into the hall. "Look, I'm going to be honest with you. Stitches on the bottom of the foot is about the most painful thing you can imagine. You could not pick a more sensitive part of the body, and we really don't have the equipment/supplies here to stitch him up with decent anesthesia. I think you should take him to the ER."
Oh, boy. It had taken so much effort to get Calvin into the urgent care, and I was hungry and tired and really, really, really tired. And more tired. Screaming erupted from inside the room. I ran back in to see the nurse brutally dunking Calvin's wounds in a bowl of soapy water. She wasn't even touching them. Calvin was writhing in pain.
"Okay," I said to the doctor with a sigh. "We'll go to the ER."
"I know a good one," she said. "With really short waits." I was then given directions to an ER in a different town I didn't know at all. "You know Beaver Creek Commons?" the nurse said. "You just get on 64 and take the exit for 55 and then you head toward Holly Springs in the direction of Apex towards 1 where it intersects with 29. With all those little fast food places? It's right around there. Lots of signs. You can't miss it. It says Emergency Room."
"Oh, yeah," I said, because I hate confrontation and asking for clarification in my mind equals confrontation. "Okay. Got it."
I called Sam on my way (because I don't mind confrontation with him) and asked if he knew where the place was.
"Maybe," he said. "I think it's in this one place and you should probably go left after you get off the freeway. Do you want me to pull over and look it up for you? It will take a second—I'm on this weird highway in the dark and it's foggy. My GPS was getting me lost earlier but I'll try to hurry..."
"No!" I said. "Ahhhh! I have to get off the freeway now!" Then I hung up.
After driving by it only once, we turned down the right road to the ER and after driving up to Receiving and parking behind four big semi-trucks and getting out and wondering where the ambulances were and why there was no front desk, I finally got back in the car and found the general entrance. Receiving should not be the place where semi-trucks deliver supplies. That should be called Delivery. Receiving should be the place where they Receive patients. I'm going to write somebody about that, except I don't like confrontation so I probably won't.
There are supposed to be valets at ERs who will park your car for you, but this ER seemed to have forgotten that rule, so I parked illegally in front of the entrance and slid/dragged/hobbled Calvin inside.
They got us a wheelchair and then seemed upset when I told them I would have to leave Calvin alone to go park my car. This seemed unnecessary to them, so I had to explain that my body could not be with my son and getting my car out of a No Parking Zone at the same time. They reluctantly agreed with very grim faces, because this was probably something their bodies could do.
When I got back, Calvin was gone, already in a room. Great! I thought. We won't have to wait.
We waited in a very lovely room for about an hour for the doctor to come, though I swear to you the ER seemed empty. Then there was some examining and some discussion and some x-rays. Then they applied some numbing cream to the wounds. The numbing cream was a precursor to the shots that would really deaden things up. Calvin shook violently as the numbing cream was applied. The nurse kept asking if he was ticklish. It didn't look like a ticklish kind of shaking to me. Especially because he was saying, "Ow."
At some point in all this, the doctor took me out into the hall. "Look," he said. "I'm going to be honest with you. Stitches on the bottom of the foot is about the most painful thing you can imagine. You could not pick a more sensitive part of the body. This is going to really hurt him. Really, really hurt him. I can try and make it not hurt. But it won't work. It's going to hurt."
"I understand," I said, because I was now well-versed in how much the bottom of the foot hurts. "And please forgive me if I laugh," I told him. "I am the kind of mother that laughs hysterically when her children in pain. It's a squeamish, I-am-so-helpless, kind of thing."
He said he understood. Sort of.
The bottom of the foot really hurts. There was much quivering and shaking and gasping as they jammed that needle into his skin again and again, but Calvin was prepared. We told him exactly how long it would take and how much it would hurt and he did a great job. He watched the doctor do the first stitch: "Wow," he said. "It's like knitting!" This sent the nurse and doctor into hysterics and all was well. It was okay for me to giggle.
It was a grand adventure. Nothing hurt after the anesthetic was in place. They didn't call the social workers because Calvin was jumping off the deck, landing on glass jars, and Calvin gets to have crutches for a few days because he can't put his weight on his foot.
We survived, and Sam wasn't even here, and I did blood and emergency rooms all by myself. (I'm very proud). And the girls were so awesome, they totally earned the Costco cake I brought home the next day. Chocolate. And Calvin's only fallen while using his crutches maybe fifty-six times.
The moral of the story: don't cut the bottom of your foot. Ever. Because it really, really hurts.