The Trauma of Trauma

I always thought that Liam’s first scar would be the result of something amazingly awesome he had tried to accomplish – like a failed attempt at diving off a piece of furniture, or a tricycle accident or falling out of a tree while trying to save a kitty stuck up there. Something noteworthy that would make for good conversation at kiddies parties or his 21st birthday celebration. So I was somewhat disappointed that our first trip to Casualty was because Liam ran into a wall – what a letdown.

It started as a normal Saturday morning, we had just returned home from  our monthly grocery shopping expedition, an abominable exercise – so already tensions were running high. Liam was helping his Dad unpack the groceries and I can’t say for sure what happened, but I knew by the loud thump and the wail that escaped his mouth, that it was serious. Moms are pretty good at deciphering the different cries that their children make and before I even got to him, my heart had all but jumped out of my chest and I knew that this was not the kind of booboo that I could kiss better. My fears were confirmed when I found him laying face up, blood pouring down the side of his face and looking like he was holding a golf ball in his mouth; his cheek was blue and swollen. The husband and I tried to assess the situation, while I poofed around his open wound with a dirty dish cloth – the first thing I could fine! I was reminded again that my husband and I do not handle emergency situations well – we first argued over various things like whose fault it was, whether it was serious enough to warrant a trip to the hospital, who would stay with Hannah who was asleep and who would go, why was I using a dirty dish cloth to wipe his face, what does it matter, etc, etc… you get the picture! Liam’s every increasing shrieks shook us back to reality and it was swiftly decided that I would take him to the hospital and the husband would remain with Hannah. And just like in the movies and just like good ‘ol Murphy predicts –  every traffic light was red, I was stuck behind two pensioners taking their cars for a walk, the short cut actually turned out to be the long cut, and when we eventually arrived at the hospital, more than a little frazzled, I couldn’t find a parking bay. With the effect, I had to park 5000 kilometres from the entrance and lug my big boy with his bloody dish cloth all that way, while trying to balance my purse and phone and car keys in my hand  – I forgot to grab my hand bag in all the mayhem and the husband just threw the necessaries at me.


We were third in the queue; could they not see my child was having a medical emergency, how could they let that infant coughing up blood and that old lady who was going blue in the face from lack of oxygen, go before me? I was livid. I was giving the husband a blow by blow account of everything that was happening, while Liam relayed the whole incident to the blue faced old lady, shame she was very sympathetic, but not enough to give us her place in the queue. Eventually we were called in to take his vitals, his blood pressure and heart rate were good which indicated no trauma to the head, hallelujah! All this time he was quite calm, more intrigued with all the machines, gadgets and the bed on wheels. But when the doctor appeared in his white coat, pandemonium broke out. Ever since Liam was old enough to understand that his childhood immunisations were administered by a man or woman in a white coat, he goes slightly barmy at the sight of well..a white coat. He wouldn’t let the doctor near him, he was clawing at me like a cat high on cocaine, the doctor had to yell instructions to the nurse who verified that the wound needed to be stitched up. I felt like I was going to break down from the stress of it all, but I had to hold it together – not for Liam’s sake, he was too far gone to worry about me, but I didn’t want the doctor and nurse to see me blubbering like a big baby. While they prepared the trolley with all the items needed for the mini operation, I had to administer pain medication orally and I had to drown the wound in some anaesthetic liquid in order to numb the area – all this while Liam was yelling like a banshee. I felt like I was in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, I wondered if they were going to make me stitch him up as well because they were too scared to come near him. I heard the doctor yell something and out of the corner of my eye I saw four big scary looking ladies coming towards us. They weren’t really scary looking, but I knew this wasn’t going to be good. They proceeded to wrap my son tightly, too tightly if you ask me, in a sheet in an effort to keep him still, I was horrified, as was he. He was screaming and looking at me as if to say save me and I could feel the tears welling up behind my eyeballs. They asked if I wanted to leave the room and as much as I wanted to run as far away from the situation as possible, because I couldn’t bear to see the pain my child was going to further endure, I couldn’t leave him on his own, in a room full of strangers in his most frightening moment. So while the five of us tussled with him, the doctor painstakingly stitched his face up. I thought I was going to pass out, as I watched that needle pierce his skin and the doctor sow it all back together again with the precision of a master tailor.  When he said “all done” I wanted to rip that sheet off Liam and pick him up and RUN. But I calmly gathered my stuff, even though my knees felt like they were going to give way at any second, the nurses ooh’d and aah’d over him and he even managed to bat his eyelids and give the ladies a smile. I felt emotionally and physically drained as I walked out of that hospital with my bloody dish cloth.

Back home, Liam bounced back quickly, he was proud of his wound, he even let Hannah touch it. By the evening, he had picked out one stitch – I mean really, after ALL that??? We need to take him back on Wednesday to have the remaining stitches removed. I already know what a palaver that’s going to be, but I will be more prepared this time, I will take my Prozac and Valium beforehand. I’m considering phoning the doctor and asking if Liam can’t take them out himself, he did a pretty good job with that first one.

Yes I know that children, especially boys, get themselves into these situations and I have no doubt that this is not my last trip to the emergency unit, but I do hope that as I age as a mother, I will have more control over my galloping heart rate and my knocking knees every time my babies get injured. In hindsight, I honestly don’t know who was more traumatised by this whole experience, mother or child? The scar that will be left behind once the stitches are long gone, will serve as a reminder of the day my son got his first real booboo, and his mother almost wet her pants in fear.