Saturday, March 7, 2009

Weak

Thanks to my friend Sarah for inspiring today's post with this post of hers.
Twenty three years ago this month (I'm freaking out just writing that. Since when did I ever talk about twenty three years ago!) I was ten years old.  I had been at the Dentist with my mom and sister and two little brothers (we were known as the four little kids).  The two oldest boys, Jon and Adam and my oldest sister, Susan (known as the big kids) had stayed home doing some work around the house.  

We drove into the carport and I hopped out of our huge, olive green station wagon.  As everyone else piled out behind me, Su and Adam came rushing from around the side of the trailer.  They both starting jabbering frantically in high pitched tones.  Something had happened.  Dad had taken Jon to the hospital.  I didn't grasp what they were saying, I don't think, but as we followed them around the corner of the house we could see the blood dripped all over the path to the stairs leading up to the kitchen door.  The kitchen floor was also covered in blood.  There was no question where Jon had been.  

Eventually some of these details became apparent to me (not sure if I'm getting these right, but here's what I remember).  Dad and Jon had been working with the lawn mower.  I think there had been something wrong and they were going to turn it over, or lift it.  The blade hadn't stopped spinning and Jon had put his hand under the edge of one side to lift it.  And, bye-bye finger tips.  

Dad had rushed Jon into the house to care for him and asked Su to scour the yard for the rest of Jon's fingers and pick them up and bring them to him in a little towel.  (Lucky Su.)  He had to get that boy to the emergency room ASAP.  Not perfectly clear on the details here, but I've certainly pictured poor Su tip-toeing around the back yard in search of the finger fragments.  *shudder*

Once I had an idea of what had happened I remember running down the hallway to the avocado fixtured bathroom.  I shut and locked the door and I started bawling.  I kept thinking about how much I loved Jon.  I cried and cried until I could cry no more and then I just stared in the mirror.

This was the same mirror that I had stood before many times to do Bloody Mary.  You know, where you say Bloody Mary over and over and something is supposed to happen but never does?  Even at that time I recognized both the morbid similarity and the incongruousness of what I'd used this mirror for before and what I was feeling now.  After staring at my red puffy eyes for a minute I folded my arms and bowed my head and I spoke to Heavenly Father in the most sincere prayer of my life up until that point.  

I'm not sure what I thought would happen or what exactly I prayed for, but praying helped and I knew everything would be okay.  

It turns out only the very tips of the last three digits on his left hand had been cut and once they healed, the middle finger was the only one that you could even tell was missing a part (as they were unable to sew on what Su's search had produced).  
********
Like most mothers, I have often contemplated how I would react if something drastically dangerous happened to one of my kids.  Could I stay calm under pressure?  Could I comfort the child and take care of the injury in an intelligent way, all while dealing with my own freaking out?

Like most mothers, we've had a few good spills.  Nothing major, but some baaaad knee skinnings and that sort of thing.  I used to be quite good.  I could handle it very well.  Lately, though?  I'm not quite so good.  

My stomach totally does a flop when I even think about a serious injury.  David once knocked his front teeth pretty badly and they were all a little wiggly and bleeding.  While I was cleaning him up and checking things out I just felt ILL.  I was still good about the not freaking out and about the comforting etc. but my stomach did not handle it well, and it wasn't even an open wound! 

I just have a weak stomach.  I don't even handle the sight of blood well anymore which I NEVER thought I'd say.  Aren't you supposed to get more used to stuff like this instead of less?  

And it just makes me wonder how in the world my dad was feeling that day 23 years ago.

26 comments:

Karen said...

whew! your brother was lucky not to lose a whole hand! I've had some injuries with my kids (including a skull fracture on my daughter) and I was very calm until the professionals took over...then fell into a puddley mass of tears on the floor. I think Moms (and Dads) hold it all together because they have to.

Jon Stubby Fingers Lee said...

Lisa, what I remember about that day is spotty but I was trying to ajust the height of the wheels to get the grass cut shorter and had just grabbed the edge of the mower to give me leverage. It felt like when you put your hand under the edge of the vac. Then it hurt but mostly I was freaking out and I remeber being quite upset that dad was so calm on the phone with 911. I remember being in the car (thought it was green one) waiting for dad and after what seemed like hours (min maybe) me kicking the door trying to get out so I could yell at dad to hurry but I had to keep a strong hold on my hand to not bleed all over so I could not get the door open. At the hospital they duct taped my arm to a board to work on it and the doctor wanted to cut my ring finger off at the first knucle and I told him if he did I would kill him ( he chose to live) and the whole time dad was watching like it was normal but facinating.
Please feel free to edit this for spelling and the worlds best run on sentance as this has been one super crappy night/morning for my head.

Annette Lyon said...

Wow. The story is all the more intense after your brother's comment.

It does make you wonder how you'd react--but I think in the moment we surprise ourselves and handle emergencies as we need to. And THEN we can freak out when it's over!

Josi said...

Read someone's blog long enough and you find out all kinds of things you have in common. We had nine kids--and three different big ol' station wagons over the years. My younger brother, Sam, was playing on a round pedistal type table, which fell on his fingers and rolled back and forth until it severed his pinky finger on the left hand. They tried to sew it back on but it didn't take--he was four, but if you ask him how old he was he'll hold up his hand--with 3 and a half fingers and tell you he was 3 1/2. I have thankfully avoided most of these types of traumas (though my daughter knocked out her tooth) but with me, I get mad. I'm not sick to my stomach or panicky, I"m just totally ticked off that it happened. I don't think that's the best approach.

Kimberly said...

Becca lost the very tip of her pinky finger a year or so ago. I have no problem with the sight of blood, never have really.

I found out that day that I have a real problem with the sight of my children's blood. I didn't panic. I couldn't - because comforting and helping her mattered more, but I sure wanted to!

Lara said...

Yeah, I don't react well with this stuff. I would be rendered useless in a situation like your brother's, I'm sure.

Sophia climbed up on the table and fell off onto her head and got a HUGE hematoma (3 inches high) when she was 15 months old. I seriously freaked, but I did manage to get her to the ER (she was fine).

I especially liked the part about your prayer. It's moments like that that really solidify our faith as children, I think.

Kate said...

I bet that was very scary to you as a child. I wish I felt like I have become better with things through the years but I still freak out when they get hurt. I love your blog, I will definitely be back.

That Girl in Brazil said...

My stomach plummeted when I read that.

My parents also dealt with some pretty crazy things - but then, so have I.

Hmmm ... I feel a post coming on ...

(P.S. My hunch is - YOU'D HANDLE IT.)

Lee Family said...

I don't know about Su, but I vividly remember the day and getting the assignment to look for the little slices of Jon's finger balogna strewn about the lawn. As my favorite Inspector Tarconi said, "Ah, memories!" (from The Transporter)

Moody said...

Oh wow, what an intense story (and follow-up comments). I always think I will react calmly and usually do, but thankfully I haven't been confronted with missing body parts (knocking wood)--that might be a different story!

Carlynn said...

I remember that happening so well. We felt so horrible for Jon. I think your whole family seemed traumatized for several days after that.

I do pretty well with blood and such...The part that I freak out about is if my kid is hurting/in pain. Blood, no problemo.

Kazzy said...

I do think when you are in the moment you somehow handle it. I grew up out in the country and there were plenty of times we wrecked ourselves pretty badly. Once I got bitten by a big dog while I was out riding my motorcycle and my brother fell on broken glass--- at the same exact time we came running into the house and my dad calmly said, "Get in the car," as he drove us both to the emergency room. ugh. Your poor brother.

Heather of the EO said...

(sidenote: I had totally forgotten the Bloody Mary thing...)

I'm kind of like this too. Not so much about the blood or injuries, but I get the feeling in my gut and for me, it's fear. I think the more years we're around, the more we learn things can turn out really bad sometimes and we just so desperately don't want that for our kids. that's how it is for me anyway.

Your poor brother!

gramalee said...

When I got to the ER the plastic surgeon was sewing Jon's fingers up and he and Jon were chatting friendly-like. Dad shuffled from Jon & doc on one side of the curtain to me on the other side. I did not want to watch but Jon is right -- Marlo was intrigued with with the process. Makes my nose sting (an almost cry) every time notice Jon's fingers. xo

Natalie said...

Intersting story & very well told. I'm with you on the handling blood less as time went on & wondering why it isn't the other way around. There was a time that I went to school to be a paramedic because I thought medical stuff was so cool & that I was cool under pressure. Now, I know that I spazz out when I see my kiddos blood.

Heidi Ashworth said...

I loved this story (and your brother's remarks--story crasher!, like, how dare he?). I have to add that the sight of blood gets harder for me as I get older, too. Esp. when it's my kids. However, I am still big man on campus about the whole thing when it comes to the rest of the people I live with--they are total wimps when it comes to the blood thing. A bunch of pansies!

Alison Wonderland said...

The Princess stabbed herself in the hand just the other day. It was quite deep and there was some fat and miscelaneous tissue coming out of the wound not to mention the spurting blood. It didn't bother me at all. I'm telling myself that it's more a function of what I do for a living than of not being a good mother. That could be true right?

Pancake said...

I dont knwo what to say, specially after reading your brothers comments... intense!!!

Melanie J said...

I'm like Kim. I don't love the sight of blood but I can live with it--unless it's my own kids. Then it's all I can do to hold myself together.

JustRandi said...

That exact thing happened to me a few years ago. I have never been particularly squeamish, but one day all of a sudden I couldn't deal with blood anymore. Not panicky, just incredibly nauseated and almost passed out.

It's terribly annoying to me.

CaJoh said...

I never was tested in that way, but I do know that I walked home a person who was attacked in college. It didn't phase me that their whole face was bloodied, but I did the right thing and walked them home and was very calm the whole time.

Becky said...

That's quite a story!

But you know, I think if you can get through whatever emergency arises, it doesn't matter if you're freaked out or queasy on the inside. It sounds like you handle the situations well, even if you don't like them. So don't be too hard on yourself!

Jen said...

I'm so glad no one died in this story. Not to devalue the loss of a few fingertips, or anything, but death would have been so much more traumatic.

And is this late-onset weak-stomach thing related to the suddenly-get-sick-on-fair-rides thing? Because I have that now. What a bummer.

Marivic_Little GrumpyAngel said...

What a scary experience your brother went through! It was great that you thought of prayer to comfort you.

I think that when something like that happens to your own child, your body overcomes it's weakness and gets propelled into action by an instinctive desire to preserve the love one. My son when he was about 5 choked on a hot dog and turned blue in front of me. I struggled to get him the Heimlich and did not give up until the hot dog popped out and color returned to his face. I then called 911 to see if I needed to take him to the emergency room. When he was pronounced okay, then all the calmness and strength left me and I fell down on the floor a weak heap of nerves and started bawling my eyes out. But only after...

Susan said...

Oh, this is one of my kids' favorite stories! As I remember it, Dad and Jon were outside mowing the lawn, I remember Dad by the handle, Jon below, changing the cutting level, I believe. Suddenly both of them were just yelling and screaming. Next thing I remember Jon was in the car holding his bleeding hand. (I remember it as the green car, from Lisa's story maybe it was the Challenger?) I remember wondering how it the world he could stand to just sit there and look at it, though I remember him being upset, obviously. I ran into the house to see why in the world Dad wasn't driving like crazy to a hospital. He was at the bar with the phone book by the wall on the phone. He seemed so calm to me. Only now do I recognize that "calm" which is only on the outside and is somehow "superhuman" in these instances.

Anyway, he told me (I remember thinking it was the Dr. on the phone telling him to tell me) to get a baggie and go find the fingers. I then only remember being on the lawn and the feeling of picking up a still-warm bloody round thin sausage/hotdog like thing. I still remember how it felt, very warm and soft.

earlfam said...

I'm super late on this, but I have to add....

Two and half years ago I cut off the end of my thumb in a freak garage door accident. I was incredibly calm. I don't know why or how. It just seemed like there were things to be done, like finding the piece, getting someone to watch the kids while we went to he hospital, making sure I had the keys to the car, etc. Freaking out didn't seem possible or helpful, so I didn't. I think that's where your dad was, and you probably would be too. It's the only option.

Also I can't believe Allison didn't share her "tips of fingers getting cut off by the lawn mower" story. It is the best!!! And even better because we don't actually know any of the parties involved, so it's just a great funny story to us. (And I don't feel guilty about that, cause I'm missing the end of my thumb.)