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Monday, March 19, 2012

Stitches, Surgeries, Scars and Being Spared

(Written February 20ish, 2011.  Now remembered as Kyle and I were back in this Oral Surgeon's office again last week and as Drew continues to be...well, Drew.)

“You  poor thing!”  “Oh, what a day for you!”  “You need a glass of wine!”
That’s what I heard over and over when I described the events of last Tuesday to my mommy friends.  From the dads there were other reactions which generally involved high fives.   It was a difficult day, but it was a day we will look back on with laughter.  I will share the story with more moms (especially boy moms) and we will shake our heads and grin at the wonder of boys.   And I will look to God and be thankful for His infinite grace again.  I will actually be thankful for stitches, busted lips, chipped teeth and blackened puffy eyes.  I will thank Him for Urgent Care doctors, oral surgeons and Tylenol with codeine.
The day started as a result of a similar day last October when Kyle fell at school, somehow biting through his bottom lip and chipping his two front teeth.  Following that little incident were a trip to the pediatrician and then the ER, a few stitches in his lip, a small discussion about where the chips of teeth might be and an assurance by the professionals that they were not imbedded anywhere in my child’s preciously perfect lips.  Fast forward to the dentist’s office 3 months later.  An x-ray shows two chips of teeth in Kyle’s lip. Yes, sewn inside, his preciously perfect lip.  Guilt, disgust, horror etc. illuminate my face all in one small second.  We now win ourselves a one way ticket to an oral surgeon, who might be my favorite guy on the planet because:

1.  He is from Texas.
2.  His waiting room is decorated like it should be in Architectural Digest.
3.  He has done charity work for Friends of Barnabas, an organization of doctors who provide free medical services to families in Honduras. 
4.  He has about 6,000 degrees on his wall and they are not from any of those colleges that make the "10 Best Party Schools" lists. 
5.  He assures me that he can do this procedure very quickly and I totally believe him.
6.  He makes my child and me laugh and I generally enjoy laughing a lot especially when I'm nervous.
7.  Most importantly, he reminds me of a combination of a mad scientist and Jeff Spiccoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High.  (Therefore, mommies out there, "scientist" and "non-party school degrees" cancelled out any concern I might have about Spiccoli having a medical degree)

Still, I was really nervous, until I witnessed this conversation: 
Dr. Spiccoli to Kyle:  “Dude, having those teeth there is so not cool, man.  We gotta get those out.  There won’t even be a scar, but on the other hand, man, scars are kinda awesome though. Don't ya think?  Especially for athletes. ” 
KyleGiggles and looks down at his Washington Capitals shirt.  "I play hockey and basketball and baseball." 

Dr. Spiccoli and my boy talk about Texas college football and sports and Kyle thinks this guy is THE MAN and mommy is breathing easier and is feeling like everything will be okay.  We set an appointment for the next week.

Tuesday morning, Kyle and I arrive at 7:45 am for his oral surgery.  He has to go under anesthesia.  I am a bit nervous about the anesthesia, but am alternating between loving the quiet of reading a huge photography book on Jackie Kennedy in the chic waiting room and praying that nothing goes wrong.  When Kyle comes out of the anesthesia he is a bit agitated, crying and complaining that he is sooooo tired.  He keeps waking up and thrashing around and then falling quickly back to sleep.  I don't like it.  I don't like it one bit, but Dr. Spiccoli assures me that this is normal.  Of course, to Kyle, he's all, "Hey, little dude, chill.  You did awesome, man."  But for me, he looks me straight in eye and puts a hand on my shoulder and says that he really will be fine and I suddenly, have no doubt.  This guy may talk like Spiccoli but he hasn't been smoking weed in a van for the past hour.  This guy is a legitimate smarty pants.  I know it.  He tells me he'll go home and have a long nap and be fine.  Kyle sleeps all the way home and for 2 and ½ hours once we get home.  He has a hugely swollen lip, but all in all is not in a lot of pain.  Lots of mint chocolate chip ice cream and watching Spiderman and by afternoon, he even wants to shoot baskets outside.  Big deep breath and relief for mom....but wait.

At about 5:30 in the evening, just when I think we can close the book on this day, Drew decides to play "King of the Mountain" or something equally 6-year-old-boyish on a big pile of snow, falls off on to the ice, bangs his eye and comes up with a 2 inch gash under his eyebrow.  Steve is in downtown DC.  Darn it, that guy, working to put food on the table!  I pile all three kids in the car to rush to Urgent Care.  My broken and bloody little brood shuffles into the waiting room:  Kyle, sporting a lip the size of Hawaii and Joe holding an icepack wrapped in a bloody dishtowel on Drew’s swollen eye.  I am quite sure they will cuff me as soon as I arrive and send the children to foster care.  While we are waiting, I realize that Kyle's pain medication is overdue and wearing off, so I sheepishly plead with the nurse and she very kindly spares some Tylenol for Kyle.  Drew is then examined and we find out that he will have to have stitches.  We, all four, hunker down in the examining room and await the doctor who will have to shoot novacaine into my baby’s eyebrow and then sew him up with 3 stitches.  This doctor is not like Jeff Spiccoli at all and you would think that would make a regular mom happy, but it doesn't make me happy.  I'm tired and scared and I need Dr. Spiccoli.  The doctor brings me into the hallway: 

Dr. Non-Funny/Anti-Spiccoli“If your son is not able to handle this and wiggles around and fusses too much, we will have to send him to the hospital ER so that they can sedate him.  So, can he handle it?”

Me, staring at him with wide eyes: “Can my 6 year old handle it?  Handle injections and needles and cleaning his wound with stinging alcohol?  Can he handle it?” 

The doctor blinks and stares back, awaiting my answer.  Apparently, mothers should know the answer to this inane question. 

Me, closing my wide-open mouth and collecting myself, sort of“Well, dude.  He’s a tough cookie, so let’s give it a try. “  (just kidding, I didn't say dude, but I wanted to so badly.)

I don’t tell him that virtually every time I gave blood or had a shot when I was little, I passed out.  I slink back into the examining room with a fake smile on my face and shaking hands.  Everything is going to be just long as Mom stays upright and doesn't puke.

And that is when this day of “You’ve got to be kidding me!” transforms into a day in which I am struck by lessons in gratitude.  As I hold tight to Drew’s legs and try not to watch, I look away to my other boys sitting in two chairs in the corner.  I ask Kyle again if he is okay, does he feel sick, is his lip hurting? 

He says earnestly, "Mom, don’t worry about me.  I’m fine.  Stop worrying about me.” 

Then I glance over to Joe.  My 12 year old’s eyes lock with mine.  Just before the tears spill out of his troubled eyes, he lowers his head to his clasped hands.  He is praying for his little brother.  I am awash in calm.  What gifts are these children?  What gifts are these little moments of fear and pain?  What gifts are these lessons for my little band of maniacs?  This day has taught my boys compassion and sympathy and unselfishness and what it is to love.  To feel someone else’s pain. They are understanding in this moment that even though “He is SO annoying”, they adore their little red-haired brother and they can’t stand to see him hurt.

I am exhausted and need a shower.  I certainly don’t want to make dinner.  When it is over, we drive through Wendy’s and get Frostys.  I don’t care if they have a vegetable or milk with their dinner.  I don’t care if they get the raw cookie dough mixed in the Frosty.  I don’t care if they eat in the car and I don’t care if they spill.   They laugh and shout and sing and it is over.  We rush through the CVS for our antibiotics and we run Joe to basketball practice just in time.  Our life marches on. 

In the days to come we will recount the story.  Moms will hug me and express sympathy.  Dads will show the boys scars from stitches they received when they were little.   Pastor Chris got 13 stitches in his eyelid when a dog attacked him.  The Hockey coach got stitches in his shin when he ran into a metal stake playing horseshoes.  When Dad was playing 3rd base in high school, he got an opponent’s cleats imbedded into his leg when the boy slid into the base.   I recognize that my boys are bloodied and scarred, but that they are walking and breathing and playing outside again.  I think of parents of children with cancer.  Of parents who don’t leave the hospital and rush to the next sporting event like we did.  Of parents whose children do not get to ride home with an ice cream that they can potentially spill on the seat.  Of parents whose children do not ride home with them ever again.  I am blessed by stitches and black eyes and busted lips.  I am blessed with boys of courage and compassion.  I have the distinct feeling that again, we have been spared and saved by our gracious God.


Tomi said...

Totally understand this one after my crazy stomach virus, husband out of town weekend! This made me tear up a little, because it is so true! We are blessed! Love your stories, keep them coming.

sheri said...

Loved it! So true about how blessed we are to have these babies. I thank God multiple times a day for mine! Great story.

Jen Fitz said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jenn said...

Oops. JenFitz...I accidentally removed your comment when I was reading it. Now, everyone is going to think you were being inappropriate! I have no idea what I'm doing with this blog thing. Sorry, JenFitz is very appropriate people, VERY! Yes, Fairfax Corner...must be the same dude!

BethTupas said...

My daughter cut her leg on a piece of glass that poked out of the garbage bag. The cut resulted in 3 stitches and has been an issue for her for the past year. We have tried multiple over the counter applications to try and minimize the scarring and so far have felt like we have been moderately successful. We were out of our last product and decided to give dermalmd scar serum a try based on price and feedback. We have been using approx. 2 weeks and so far have experienced a softer skin around the scar and improved color tone. She says the skin feels tight when applying but it does not cause any itching or irritation to her. I'm hoping this serum may be the answer she is looking for as the scar is front and center on her leg.