Monday, April 30, 2018

The Things we Carry

If you follow An Inch of Gray on Facebook, you know Andrew had a little adventure last week. 

We'd had a great day of puddle jumping, hair cutting, and general toddler fun. I had a chicken in the oven, and we were in the home stretch heading toward dinner and bedtime. As I stood in the kitchen, pouring myself a cup of tea, Andrew walked up and showed me his hand. He had taken the lid off a tiki torch canister and lodged a chubby finer in the hole where the wick is supposed to go. I picked him up and slathered dish soap all over it hoping it would slide right off. Next I tried a tub of butter. The more I tried, the more swollen his finger got, and then it started to bleed. He went from thinking he was awfully clever to crying and really wishing the lid would come off.

If Tim had been home, I probably would have googled, "How to dislodge a finger from a tiki torch lid," and we would have worked together to get it off. Perhaps we would have gone down to the basement to see if we had any tin snips to cut right through the lid. 

Instead, as Andrew wailed, and his finger grew more and more purple, I called 911. I figured they would have a tool to free his finger, and they could get there faster than if I put Andrew in the car to drive to the ER during rush hour. 

As soon as he heard that an ambulance was coming, Andrew stopped crying and was super happy. Bubbly, in fact. And that's when my second-guessing set in. He was obviously not in that much pain, and I was using valuable county resources for something minor. But in the back of my mind, I wondered if he could lose the use of his finger if I'd waited. 

The EMT's came and looked at it, as he happily marveled at their cool ride. Instead of snipping the lid off, as I'd assumed they would, they said we need to go to the ER. While the EMT’s had a tool that could cut rings off easily, it wasn’t the right fit for the lid. Oops. I’d figured that if these guys had the Jaws of Life to extract people from cars, a toddler finger would be easy-peasy. 

Within minutes, we were in an ambulance heading to a nearby hospital. Andrew thoroughly enjoyed the ride from the comfort of my lap, pointing out the motorcycle, trash truck, and numerous cars he saw through the rear doors.

Once at the ER, a doctor and 2 nurses worked together to remove the lid. Their tool of choice? A new shoelace, threaded through the opening. They were able to wind it around his finger to control the swelling and pull the lid off. We were finished within minutes— Andrew's cut so minor he needed just some Neosporin and a bandaid.

It was a happy ending to a stressful situation. Getting the ER bill will be a bit more stressful, but that story is not today's story.

For as we rode in the ambulance, I was able to relax a bit, breathe, and consider my actions and motivations. 

I realized that in the moment Andrew came to me, I entered crisis mode and was taken back to 2011 and Jack's accident. Of course I didn't think Andrew would DIE because of his minor injury, but I no longer trusted my judgment to gauge the situation. I wanted the help of professionals because I was no longer confident I could make the right decisions for my kids.  

You see, when I’d reached the scene of Jack's accident, just seconds after he somehow ended up in the raging water, I tried to take care of the situation myself. Instead of calling 911, I got in my car to drive to a spot where my heart told me he would be, exactly where his body was found a few hours later. This wasted time. 

So last week, I didn't trust my judgment. My relatively calm demeanor and desire to not make a fuss had failed my children in small ways over the years, and had failed Jack in the biggest way possible. 

I know I am forgiven. I know it in my heart and in my head. Jack has graciously let me know in his own way that I should not beat myself up for those precious seconds, yet I guess they still inform my actions. 

I saw that last week. 

Margaret was home. She is almost 17 now. She could have driven us to the hospital while I comforted Andrew in the back seat of the car. But in those frantic moments, I could only see her as a frightened 10 year old again, whose brother was in crisis.  As the adrenaline rushed through my body, I wanted to spare her pain and assure her everything was okay, and I wanted her to know that this time, the professionals, not MOM, would help us.

People always ask me if I’m overprotective because of what happened to Jack, and I’ve been able to answer truthfully, NO. In fact I live with a degree of freedom that most people don’t have, in understanding that I’m not really in control of very much.


Yet I carry that day in my mind, and in my body. In my quiet moments and my more frenzied ones. It wasn’t until last week, with Andrew’s little finger, that I realized I carry that day in a way I’d never even considered before. 



27 comments:

A said...

I don't have any words of wisdom, but I do have so much grace and love for you.

GG said...

It seems to me that traumatic events never go too far into our subconscious. They come back so quickly when another trauma appears.

Theresa said...

They call it ptsd for a reason. We don't get over it, we get through it... be kind to yourself getting professional help is never a bad thing...

Mandy Mattos said...

Oh Anna . . .as I received my order revelations in a completely different topic this morning, I was reminded of the gentle way the Holy Spirit reveals these kinds of things to us. They are rarely easy to confront, but so freeing when we work with God to carefully remove them from our being.
Your insight brought tears to my eyes this morning in the best possible way. I pray that your faith in your instincts will be testores in a new and profound way. Your children (& Tim) are so blessed to have you in their midst. Big hugs to you!!

Momobug said...

God bless you, Anna.
<3 Ann

Jessica Schoffel said...

I'm so glad he's okay! Honestly, getting help from a professional is really never the wrong choice. Especially when a child is involved! Feel no guilt for calling 911. Glad the finger story has a happy ending. :)

Stephanie Ramsey said...

I understand. I wholly, completely understand. So thankful for the way this one turned out. Prayers for you, sweet Mama.

Sharon in Indy said...

Oh, Anna.... When I read about this little(?) misadventure, I wondered if you had to live with always being afraid of something happening to Andrew, and if your concerns were deep down or right below the surface. I can understand your second-guessing and don't fault you for a second. You are doing an admirable job of trying to find your way through the newness and the sadness and the crashing and receding waves. Your vulnerability touches me.

Always wear your tiara said...

Such a hearsh reality lies beneath your calm. I think you rocked that decision. As I read it I thought, WHAT?? an ambulance for that? Then I continued on and realised wow, what a smart strong woman. xxxx

twingles said...

This all makes sense...but I think you did the right thing. I'm an "under reactor" also but am learning that it's ok, sometimes even better to go right from 0-60 in nothing flat.

I had a ring taken off the same way as Andrew had the tiki torch lid taken off....I love when medicine seeks the easiest solution!

Angie said...

Sadly, I DO get it. ((hugs))

Flo said...

Anna, this is so full of beauty and truth that I am speechless and just want to says thank you and lots of hugs and love

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

Oh, Anna...so much to carry in your heart. My heart aches for you. But more importantly, our Heavenly Father knows you intimately. Grace and Peace to you.

Anonymous said...

You did your best to save his finger from any harm and he came out just fine! Good job mama!

mayhem said...

sending you love for this beautiful post

green said...

Oh I love you.

Steph said...

So glad sweet Andrew's finger is ok. As mothers, we usually see the worst case scenario with our children's injuries. Thank you for your insightful writing. Wishing you much peace and love.

Cindy said...

Oh, I so get you. A good friend of mine was killed riding his bike home from work over 20 years ago by a woman hopped up on botox. Now my husband is starting university (yeah, that's another story) and wants to ride a bike to & from in good weather, cuz it's not that far, he's all about fitness & saving money, blah blah. I'm losing my shizzle all over him about it, and really being quite unreasonable. We both know why, but I just can't get past that fear. There's even more hopped up women out there now, not less. And I only have one husband. Going to let the air out of his tires now.

Jennie said...

I really appreciated reading this just for all the feelings it brought up. Sorry I'm not more eloquent.

Anonymous said...

I would have done exactly as you did, but I have learned through experience ALWAYS to trust my own judgment and not to rely on "professionals" for help in a crisis. Sometimes they can be lifesavers and other times, you might overhear them joking about a serious situation or making fun of a parent or family member's reaction to an injury. Fear not (always the most difficult lesson for me to put into practice) and put your faith in Him and in the instincts He has given you. I'm so glad everything ended well for you and your son. :)

Lisa Powell said...

I don’t know you Anna, but I have read your book and I follow you on FB. Your heartbreaking story helps me to better understand my friend and her heartbreaking story of losing her beloved son. Your writing is so eloquent and candid, I feel a pang of your pain and anguish when I read your posts.I find many of these comments to be insensitive- however unintentional. You are courageous to put your heart out there ion your sleeve. I am so very sorry that you have any feelings of guilt over your initial response to Jack’s tragedy. Most mothers would do the same thing thinking, ‘I need to go get my baby and no one is going to go get him better than me, his mother.’ A gutteral, instinctive feeling.
I totally and completely get that. I would have done the exact same thing.❤️
You truly know the freedom of understanding that much is out of our control. I’m sorry that you know this so well but at the same time I hope it brings a little peace. It was no one’s fault.... When Bad Things Happen to Good People. That book changed me.
Peace be with you, Anna

Suzanne said...

Not sure if children are seen faster than octogenarians in the ER, but I’ve learned to always call an ambulance for my mom rather than take her myself... The wait is terrible for walk-ins.

katrynka said...

So sorry about your friend's husband, and your worries for yours. I am struggling with a lot of worries myself right now.

But I also have a question, what exactly is "hopped up on botox"?! I am a pediatric physical therapist...so many of my patients receive botox injections for muscle spasticity, and I know it is used for wrinkles. But I have never heard of it causing any cognitive or behavioral size effects? Thanks for answering if you see this! katrynkaATgmailDOTcom

katrynka said...

so glad it all worked out! Your writing is so eloquent, thank you for who you are.

Deborah Cruz said...

None of us know how we will react in a true emergency. I am a little high strung but in a crisis, I have reacted in both ways. Once my daughter was choking and I was the calmest and most rational I've ever been in my life. But another time one of my daughters fainted and I had to be driven to the hospital because I was so wrecked. I can't imagine how I'd react in your shoes because I've never been in your situation. But I know that you love your children and everything you've done ever, has been out of love for those children. My heart still aches for you and what happened to your Jack. Life is tragically unfair but you are strong and amazing and you kept your composure and got your little guy the help he needed.

sgoewey said...

We are all the accumulation of everything that has happened to us before. If you're not the boy who cried wolf, YOU'RE NOT THE BOY WHO CRIED WOLF!!

Better to err on the side of freak out if it gets you the help you need and saves his precious little finger.

I liked this cartoon caption: "Anxiety is the new happiness." accompanying a column by Carolyn Hax with advice to an anxious late-in-life mother of an adopted child she worried something would happen to...

"The tough part about such dread is that some of it is rational. Healthy, even . . . in fact, it’s the engine driving the whole concept of living in the moment, the very one you’re trying so hard to embrace.

"Life is cyclical. Your ups will be followed by downs. The whole reason we’re supposed to be mindful of now is the unreliability of later.

"This can feel less bearable the more we have to lose.

"It takes some mental conditioning, but we can use our understanding of change to train our minds to appreciate where we are and what we control."

Jack no doubt was with you-- glad Andrew enjoyed his ambulance ride... I imagine the drivers were relieved to have such an upbeat patient when usually they get more dire situations. And every emergency they see doesn't necessarily start out as a life and death emergency ... tragedies are surreal and many probably begin with a person wondering whether to call 911 or try to handle it themselves.

That's what those county resources are there for: to make sure accidents don't go from bad to worse. YOU DID THE RIGHT THING!

Anonymous said...

I think you did the right thing - it didn't seem overcautious. And maybe it was a good experience to help you gauge your reaction the next time. I've under-reacted so many times in my life (often because of my super-stoic husband's influence) and suffered for it - getting some practice with overreacting and reacting appropriately is healthy and good experience. And even if he didn't need an ambulance or the ER - you did! That's a good enough reason. No need to traumatize ourselves any further.