On my way home from Middletown, from class, I got a call from my 17 year old son. His older brother cut his foot. Should he call 911? I begin to assess over the phone. How big is the wound? 1-1/2 inches long. Okay. Doesn’t sound too bad. Son says they put on a tourniquet. I tell them to remove it immediately, put pressure on the wound which needs to be elevated above son’s heart and watch for how much it bleeds. Phone down, instructions given, words exchanged, not too bad with the bleeding. Okay. Then he says older brother is going into shock. (This exchange is occurring while I am driving home on a back road with a slow pokey in front of me. I am illegally talking on my cell phone, giving first aid instructions, assessing the situation from afar.) I ask if wounded son has fainted or is looking bad. No. Wounded son thought he was going into shock, but it was just the effects of seeing his wound again that made him a bit queasy. Okay, I told son I was 15 minutes out and would reassess when I get home. I told 17 year old to call me if anything changed. But all seemed well when I hung up the phone.
I get home, much faster after slow pokey turns off giving me the road. I remove the kitchen towel that is on the wound and held in place with paracord. Really inventive, actually. Oh crap! That is not 1-1/2 inches long. That is huge, and gaping, and scary looking. That is definitely a trip to the ER kind of wound. So what happened?
Yesterday, my 19 year old son cut the top and side of his foot with a glass fragment that was sticking out of a trash bag awaiting the inevitable trip to the old chicken house where we keep our trash before hauling it to the transfer station, or “the dump” as everyone calls it around here. That glass should never have been put in the trash without being bagged carefully in one of the old cat food bags that I save just for disposing of broken glass. That bag of trash should not have been sitting inside the house at all. It should have been carried out immediately. So what we have here is a set of circumstances that could have been avoided but instead created a perfect setup for a cut foot and a trip to the emergency room, apparently on the busiest night of the week.
I would include a couple of photos (that my 19 year old insisted I take in the ER with my phone) but I won’t gross you out. (Okay, I will put a picture of the foot after it was stitched up at the end of this post.) It was bad. Nearly 3 inches long, gaping, the glass cut into the sheath that attaches and positions the muscle near the ankle. That was stitched together first. Then the cut skin was stitched back together. A stop at an open pharmacy around 9 pm, a bit of a wait with me running back to the car to make sure my son was doing okay (and to bring him candy), and we arrived home around 10 PM. What a long, long day.
A few stitches aren’t any big deal. We have done a lot of stitches in the years I have raised my kids — and my daughter has the record for the family. We have done broken bones, too, even a broken femur. We always survive. This time will be a bit more of a challenge. I have chronic fatigue from persistent Lyme disease. My 19 year old son is the one who cooks dinner on school nights (when I have afternoon classes). My 19 year old son is the one who runs the dishwasher when no one else will do it (when I am pooped). My 19 year old is the one who will plow through 10 loads of laundry. This kid has energy and strength. He runs circles around everyone in the entire household (except for my 22 year old who has the best work ethic I have ever seen).
So he got stitches. Well, the catch is that muscle sheath. He can’t use his foot for 10-14 days. He must use crutches and not put weight on that injured foot for 2 weeks. Yikes!
We can do this. I decided this morning that the two youngest will just need to step up to the plate. They will need to take up the slack. They will need to grow up and take responsibility. Yep, it is time. 19 year old gets an uncomfortable vacation and the two youngest will do his work. I will try to do what I can but my main focus will be caring for 19 year old: food, liquids, meds, changing bandages, morale (along with being the only parent in the house, my studies, and the garden). The other boys will need to do the dishes, laundry, run up and down the stairs when I just can’t one more time, and wake up. They will need to become aware. They will need to see that the cats have no water and give them water. They will need to set a timer for the next load of laundry. They will need to wipe down the bathroom because it is dirty, not because I said to. They will need to help me in the garden.
Did I mention that my 17 year old son has wrist drop, or radial nerve palsy, now? Yes, he is partially handicapped, too. Doctor ordered nerve testing, but this will need to heal itself unless they find a specific cause. This kid can’t really use his left hand much. He can grasp (and actually drive, believe it or not), but his hand will not do what he wants it to do most of the time.
These be hard times in our household. I am disabled, the 19 year old is out of commission for 2 weeks, the 17 year old has partial use of his left hand, and the 13 year old is, well, he is the baby of the family. This means that he has always had “someone else” take care of most things. That changes now.
This morning, while I was making lunches he made his own breakfast. Tomorrow I want him to make his own breakfast without me asking him to (really, it is HIS breakfast). Baby steps, but fast tracked.
We can do this. It is the last few weeks of school for me. The boys are winding down their school year. The vegetable and herb garden needs to be finished in the next few weeks. There is so much to do and we just lost one of our key players. That’s okay. We can do this. We always do.
We always do what needs to be done. We are a family.
WARNING: Graphic photo below.
WARNING: Graphic photo below.
WARNING: Graphic photo below.