Stitches and kids go together like mosquitoes and summer.
Try what you may to avoid stitches and mosquitoes, sometimes they just happen, and when they do, there will be blood. During a family visit last week, my freshly minted 7-year old had a run in with her aunt’s marble countertop that required 7 stitches (I’m glad she wasn’t turning 12) and I’d like to share with you the 6 stages of stitches we experienced.
Trigger warning: Blood and guts- but you probably already guessed that, right?
Stage 1: Shock, or “What the heck just happened?”
I was standing steps away from Libby when her head connected with the marble. It was a head conk that could be heard through the house, so we all immediately gathered around her, and I quickly reached for some ice. Tears running, Libby clutched my hand to her forehead covering the extent of her injury from the clucking womenfolk ready to dive in and assess the damage. I was standing above her when I finally coaxed her hand down, so I didn’t see the damage right away. But my mother-in-law and sister-in-law’s horrified faces told me this was no ordinary injury; this was bad. My MIL announced,
“That’s going to need stitches!”
Stage 2: Denial, or “It’s just a flesh wound!”
We hustled Libby into a chair by a window so we could see how bad the cut was in the light. I expected a lot of blood as it was a face wound, but was less prepared for the amount of flesh we could see. This was not so much a cut as a marble indentation. The conversation flew fast as we debated Grandmother’s stitches pronouncement: Did we really need to go to the doctor? Where? When? And would Libby be able to see The Lion King (her birthday present) in two hours? “Maybe it’s not so bad?” I said. “Don’t you think it’s not bleeding that much? What if we just wait and see?”
Stage 3: Acceptance, or “People like to brag about how many stitches they get!”
Fortunately, more experienced heads than mine prevailed and we were soon in a cab (10 stitches, the driver shared) and on our way to my SIL’s doctor (no report). Turns out, she has him on speed dial now because my niece has managed to shred her own flesh three times before turning three (8 stitches total). Big sister (insisting that she had stitches when she had ear tubes put in) and I chatted in the car about how many people we know who have had stitches, as I held ice to Libby’s head. “You’ll get stitches in the same place as Mama did when she was a kid (5 stitches on forehead, 17 later on her thumb). Maybe we’ll have matching scars.”
Stage 4: Bargaining, or “Of course you can have a Tootsie Roll Pop for dinner!”
Up until now, Libby had been kind of quiet in the maelstrom of the adult medical and logistical conversation. Our time sitting in NYC traffic, however, allowed her space to lodge her complaints: “I don’t want Daddy! I want Aunt Kate!” We negotiated that dad would indeed be coming, but that mom could hold her hand during the stitches. “I don’t want to miss ‘The Lion King!” I told her I thought we might just miss the first song, “The Circle of Life” which she’d already watched on Youtube. “This kind of feels like a ‘Circle of Life’“ moment-” I began. Libby interrupted with a wail, “I don’t want to miss the first song!” I quickly moved her on to the things I had some control over like dinner. We finished our bargaining over the candy she would be allowed to eat at intermission just as we pulled up to the doctor’s office.
The doctor quickly assured us that we’d made the right call (thanks to Grandmother!) and that Libby would need S-T-I-T-C-H-E-S and a S-H-O-T to numb the area. Wondering how much more spelling there would be, I turned to Libby and told her she would have stitches but that the doctor was going to numb the area first so it wouldn’t hurt. “It might pinch some,” I told her, “But you can squeeze my hand anytime it hurts.” Libby nodded solemnly as the doctor swabbed her eyebrow and began to lay out his instruments. Recalling the pain and panic I experienced as a child getting stitches, I began to practice some yoga breathing with Libby as the doctor gave her a shot in her eyebrow. I closed my eyes and counted our inhalations and exhalations. I opened my eyes to check on her only to catch sight of the doctor inserting an entire cotton swab covered with iodine directly into the wound. “Whew! You’re doing so great, kid!” I exclaimed, shutting my eyes again. The doctor and I agreed that I didn’t have to watch him work as he’d rather only have one patient at a time.
“Out of my way Naked Cowboy, I gotta show to catch!”
Stage 6: Ice cream, or “It’s adult beverage time!”
Libby came through the procedure like a champ, and after another crosstown cab ride and a 10 minute run across Times Square to pick up the tickets, we got to see her show on time (Wear flats, ladies, wear flats). Sure, dinner consisted of chocolate trail mix and Sour Patch Kids during intermission, but Libby was a happy camper all the way up to the last number when her stitches started to hurt. Back home, some painkillers and a cuddle did the trick, and she fell into a deep exhausted sleep that night. I, on the other hand, had to eat an enormous bowl of ice cream to fully recover.