I grew up in a home well versed in medical needs. My father was an EMT for many years, so we rarely went to a hospital with an injury. I was a Type 1 diabetic, so I was very familiar with blood, needles, proper hygiene, and knowledge of physiological processes. I spent many years working as a vet tech, and because veterinary medicine is similiar in many ways to human medicine, I learned a great deal. My parents took in foster children for many years, some of which were medically-needy, and one who came complete with 24-hour nursing care. I learned a tremendous amount getting to know her nurses, as they suctioned mucus, worked on therapy, monitored her breathing tube, ventilator, and G-tube (for feeding). I majored in biology, further increasing my training and understanding of physiology. Later, when I became a storm chaser with the weather service, I took a full semester course to train as a First Responder, as we were often the first on the scene after a severe storm or tornado.
I just had no idea at the time that God was preparing me for my 5 children! Frankly, we have been blessed. So far, after 5 children and 8.5 years, none of my children have suffered a broken bone or major issue in which I didn’t know what to do. For a long time, I suspected it was in preparation for A, who has had several injuries. M had a couple pretty good injuries as well. N, while escaping injury, thanks to his cerebral palsy, has managed to involve me in his fair share of therapies and medical issues. R isn’t quite old enough for major-injury causing freedoms yet.
JR, despite his boyish antics, has always been a typical first-born. He tends to be on the cautious side, watches out for his siblings, and has developed a passion for helping me with more adult tasks and responsibilities. He has managed to escape major injury so far. Until yesterday, that is. Cooking and preparing food is one of his favorite chores. Over time I have given him careful instruction on proper use of the stove and food preps. He has become quite proficient at cooking eggs and bacon, hot cocoa, making cookies and waffles from scratch, and of course, making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The catch there is that we bake our own bread, which means he first has to slice the bread before he can butter it. I have given him many sessions of training, instruction, and supervision, and he has always been very careful and very responsible with a knife.
Today, I was planning to make some PB&J sandwiches for lunch. Unbeknownst to me, JR decided to surprise me by beating me to the job (a common thing for him to do lately). Only today, he couldn’t find the bread knife, and decided to use the much longer and more awkward meat-slicing knife. Next thing I knew, he was standing there beside me with a slightly bloody thumb–no big deal. He wasn’t crying or carrying on. Nonetheless, I told him to go to my bathroom while I got the first-aid kit. I got upstairs and looked closer, only to realize it was a pretty bad slice. He had almost removed the top portion of this thumb. The skin was all attached, and the blood had thoroughly cleaned it out, so I knew the finger would be fine with a bit of pressure just to hold the flap in place until it healed. The problem was, I had 4 other concerned children gathered around, in the way, and somewhat upset by the blood. There was also a very sharp knife on the table where he had been slicing the bread.
First things first….I attempted to rinse the finger in cold water, but the blood wouldn’t stop. I told him to hold pressure on his thumb while I retrieved ice. I set him up with ice, and told him to hold it firmly and up, to cool it. In the mean time, since he seemed calm enough, I ran to the table, finished the sandwiches, got the other kids seated and eating, put M in charge of their welfare, made sure things were safe, and finally returned to JR. He was crying slightly, but seemed pretty calm otherwise. Unfortunately, the blood was still flowing, and I couldn’t get the steri-trips (my home “suture” of choice) to stick. So, I told him to hold his hand way up over his head while we continued to apply pressure. Suddenly, he said softly, “Mom, I think I’m going to pass out.”
OK, as a trained first responder, I knew to evaluate the situation. The blood was mild–we hadn’t even filled up 1/2 a gauze. I also have a melo-dramatic child who likely wouldn’t have a clue what “passing out” feels like. So, like any good mom, I just brushed it off and reassured him that he was OK, and his injury really wasn’t that bad. We just had to get it to stop bleeding. I talked to him calmly as I finally just put a gauze and tape wrap on for the time being. I figured that would hold the flap in place, apply enough pressure to control the bleeding, and allow to start healing. When my temporary wrap begins to wear off, then I will replace with the steri-strips and a bandaid. Then, just I was putting the tape in place, he limply collapsed against me, barely supporting his weight with his legs. Hmmm. I used my free hand to tilt his face toward me. His eyes were rolling, and his face had turned white as a sheet. His lips were grey, and he was clearly going into a mild state of shock. This wasn’t going well. The phone was at the other end of the house, and M has not had as much training on 911 calls as JR, who was pretty useless at present. Again, though, I knew that his injury was not serious, so it had to be more psychological. I have been through shock personally, knew the signs, and remember how the hospital treated me. So, I quickly reviewed the steps I had been taught.
I dragged him over closer to my bed, laid him on the floor, told M to continue holding his hand up in the air, I grabbed a pillow, and propped his feet higher than his head. He was still conscious, but clearly weak. Now, I want to emphasize that normally, you would not ask someone in shock to eat or drink. In this case, though, I was very confident that, for the most part, this was a mental situation rather than a physical one. Furthermore, he has shown some mild signs of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in the past, and excitement can bring this condition on. There was just no reason other than the sight of blood, possibly a bit of panic on his part, and perhaps a slightly lower blood sugar. My mommy instinct told me that what he needed was a good distraction. The idea of blood-donation centers popped in my mind. They treat woozy patients with juice and a cookie. So, I left M to watch him while I poured a small glass of juice. I didn’t want him to choke if he really was weak, so I also grabbed a small twisty-type straw that would make him work a little for it, also preventing him from taking too big of a swallow. I asked him if he could sit up, and he did, though he was clearly weak. I held his glass as he slowly sucked. Without any encouragement, he drank the whole glass, and the sugar rush took about 60 seconds to kick in. He opened his eyes, the color returned to his face, and he was out of the danger zone. I helped him up and checked that his thumb was OK. My wrap seemed to have worked, as there was no sign of blood. JR asked to lay on the couch for a little while, but he was obviously feeling better. So, I helped him to the couch. By the time I got the other children in bed for their afternoon naps, JR had found his way to the table and was eating his peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Oh, a day in my life. It certainly isn’t predictable from day to day!! Though, I do predict another review on knife safety in the immediate future!