Sunday, 2 August 2009

I've seen my son's skull. It is shockingly white.

He's not dead. Just very, very sore.

Yesterday Joshua ran down our hallway and straight into the bathroom door frame. He calmly walked - not running this time - outside to where I was picking in the washing, with his hands and face covered in blood. I walked out from behind the hanging sheets to see his face, white in the sunshine except where it was such a scary, vibrant red.

Beginning to panic, I shouted at Abigail (I still need to apologise for that, I don't think my brain was working properly in the shock), hurriedly told Anna to go next door and tell our neighbours that we had an emergency and get them to come here. Then I turned Joshua around and followed the trail of blood drops inside the house and straight back to the bathroom.

When I had washed enough of the blood off to see where it was all coming from, I knew I had to get him to a hospital. The cut was about an inch long, and deep. It looked like it went deeper than I even knew there was skin on the forehead.

I grabbed the phone and rang Jeff's mobile: "Joshua has a serious head wound and I need you home immediately. I am ringing triple zero now so I have to hang up." I did, and with trembling fingers I pressed 000 and asked for an ambulance.

They reassured me that head wounds often bled lots (I knew that from when I had a rock thrown at me as a kid) and advised me to put pressure on the wound, but not the paper towel I was frantically pressing onto it. I looked around the bathroom... there was nothing! I had just cleaned it that morning, and all the towels were in the washing machine! Unable to think straight, I grabbed a white flannel from the hallway cupboard. (I thought if I grabbed a dark one, I wouldn't be able to see if the blood had soaked through. I didn't even stop to think that I would feel that much blood making the flannel wet!)

But by this time, the 000 people were able to let me know that an ambulance was on its way, and they told me to just focus on getting Joshua to calm down. Thanking them, I hung up. Joshua was only a bit more freaked out than I was, but he was crying loudly whereas I felt like I was moving through a fog.

Anna hadn't come back with the neighbours, so I walked Joshua outside, still pressing the flannel to his forehead. All three younger kids were next door in the yard, but Jack (our elderly neighbour, who doesn't speak much English) clearly hadn't understood their message. I called to him several times to come here, and eventually he understood. When he came close enough to see the blood, he realised the problem. I asked him to wait with the kids until the ambulance came or Jeff came.

I went inside and sat down on the couch, with Joshua lying over my lap. He was still upset, and I told him it was okay, he wasn't in trouble. He said, "I know that, Mum, but I'm ..." He said he couldn't see, or things didn't look right to him, and I told him that was just the flannel I was using to stop the blood, and not to worry because the ambulance would be here soon. Then I prayed for him, asking God to calm him, and He did. As long as I was praying, Joshua would lie calmly, but when I stopped, soon started crying again.

In between my prayers, I asked Anna to get me my purse; she brought me my mobile phone and the purse. I asked Abigail to get me my keys from the peg box outside (I take them with me when I pick in the washing since I accidentally locked myself out the back once), and she did what she was asked as well. Samuel just stood around like a little lost puppy, and I don't think he realised just what was happening. I asked Anna to wet some paper towels and wipe up all the blood spatter, and she did a commendable job for a five year old! Part of me was in amazement at her prompt obedience and just how much she was able to help me.

Fortunately, it wasn't long before I heard the familiar brake squeal of Jeff's car pulling into our drive, and saw the red car through the window. He came straight to the couch and began to pray again. That helped me to calm down a bit! Then only a few moments later, it seemed, the ambulance arrived, and Frank and Gary walked in. I was very, very glad to see their green paramedics' uniforms! So was Joshua. Once he knew they were there, he got calm enough to form complete sentences again.

After asking a heap of questions, the paramedics bandaged Joshua's forehead. When they finally took off the flannel, I was surprised to see hardly any blood on it. The pressure must have worked! They warned Joshua, and me, that he would probably need stitches. And then they asked whether Jeff or I would go in the ambulance. With Joshua much calmer, and the cream bandage covering most of his hair, I felt a little like an impostor getting into the ambulance with Joshua. But I was in no state to drive, and Jeff had to stay behind and sort out the kids (and then go back to his all day retreat with the elders that I had so abruptly interrupted with my phone call).

When we went outside to get into the ambulance, we saw Mrs Maria, a friend from church who lives just around the corner. She had seen the ambulance head into our street and thought it might be one of her friends, and stopped to see if she could help when she saw it park at our house.

I am very thankful that the paramedics took us to PMH. When we got there, the paramedics left us at the emergency department and said good bye. Then we just had to wait for our turn to be seen by a paediatrician. Unfortunately, the emergency department was pretty busy.

The family sitting behind us told the triage nurse their kids had fevers and a relative had just been diagnosed with swine flu, and I thought, "How come you didn't ask for masks as soon as you came in?" and the triage nurse must have thought the same thing, because before I could blink she had three face masks out and was strapping them on. She promptly sent them down the corridor to the second emergency area. Watching later who was sent there, I gathered that everyone who might have had swine flu was being sent out of the main waiting area so down to that end. That made me feel a bit better. The last time (two winters back) we went to a hospital emergency department in the winter, we caught the worst flu I have ever had (that was the season three little kids died in Perth from flu-related illnesses) and had to cancel our holiday visiting Jeff's Dad in Indonesia. Still a bit bitter about that one.

Joshua was complaining of being hungry, but despite having my purse, I found I only had 25c on me, so I couldn't get him a snack from a vending machine, even if there hadn't been signs warning you not to give your kid food or a drink before seeing the doctor. So he had to wait. We were finally seen around half-past eight, long after it had got dark outside the waiting room windows. He'd been asking for a while if it was the middle of the night yet!

The doctor, Lana, was calm and efficient. After examining Joshua's wound and asking another doctor for his opinion, she told me that she would try gluing the wound closed rather than stitching it. But before she glued it, she showed me the cleaned wound.

Despite the fact that Joshua hadn't really hit anything sharp, he had cut a slice in his skin deep enough to cut through about half a centimetre of skin and through the final "glad-wrap like" layer of protective tissue over his skull. The bone was a startling, brilliant white against the red wound surrounding it. It was bizarrely fascinating.

And also dangerous. We have to watch to see he doesn't re-open the wound in the next few days, because if he does it will need stitching straight away or there will be too much danger of infection. I was very relieved when she asked someone else to help her hold the wound closed and then applied the purple glue! Joshua smarted a bit at the stinging sensation of the glue drying and gave the doctor a terrible glare. And then with a simple square of my old favourite, fix-o-mull, over the top to protect the skin a little, we were ready to go home. At long last.

Except, having come in the ambulance, we had a booster seat but didn't have a car. I had no idea where to find the nearest taxi rank, but I did know how to get to the nearest service station, so we went there and bought Joshua a hot sausage roll. He was very thankful to finally have something in his poor hungry stomach. I bought him a chocolate bar as well and with that to encourage him, we set out to walk the kilometre or so to Trinity, where they elders were having their meeting. It was a cool night and I was glad to be out in the crisp air. Joshua and I chatted amiably as we walked to the college. I was very glad to finally see Jeff's face again when he met us at the door to let us in.

Joshua lay down on a couch while I read my Bible to him quietly - he asked me to read some of our memory verses. Soon, Jeff and the other men were finished and Jeff drove us home. Joshua was asleep in his bed before Jeff got back from picking up the kids from a church family who had looked after them for us.

I sang with joy and thankfulness to God as I made up the girls' beds with their clean sheets. It may not have turned out quite the way I had imagined when i woke up that morning, but our day was filled with acts of kindness by a myriad of people, and the precious care of God. I thought of the verses that Anna had been copying all last week from Psalm 103:

Praise the LORD, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise His holy name.
Praise the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not His benefits -
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

These verses were so perfectly true yesterday. Thank You for your care in our emergency, O LORD. Thank You for healing all our wounds.


Mrs. Edwards said...

Whoa! What a day! I'm so, so glad to know that this turned out okay. I'll keep praying against infection.

You're quite right that sometimes it is in the emergencies and frightful experiences that we see God's glory and precious care for us most clearly. Thanks be to God for His sovereign care for Joshua and the rest of you.

It sounds like you kept your head about you! As I read this I could feel myself turning to jelly and shaking as I read about you calling for the ambulance--vicariously anxious about it even though I was just reading!

Lane ran into a table corner once as he was running around bent over pushing a toy truck. It was a fairly blunt corner, but still put a bleeding wound in the crown of his head. I didn't have the pleasure(?) of seeing his skull, however! In his case, he just received a nice dollop of Neosporin from the doctor--and we received a nice bill.

Mrs Adept said...

That's a bit scary. Hope he is recovering nicely now though.

mom24 said...

Goodness sakes! Nothing like this kind of excitement and nerve wracking day to remind into Whose hands our children belong! I am thankful that you had people around who were able to help and that the Lord provided you with calmness when Joshua needed it.

Let us know how he heals and then let him show off to his friends that his mum got to see his skull!

Sharon said...

The thing about those verses from Ps 103 is that I had chosen them because of the first half of verse 3 "who forgives all your sins" and not the second half, "who heals all your diseases".

My BSF lesson last week on the atoning work of Christ & Leviticus 16 had prompted me to turn to it. Verse 12 says, "as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us."

I am trying to learn the entire Psalm. It will only be the second Psalm I have memorised.

~ Sharon

Sharon said...

Update: Joshua threw up twice last night, but he seems to be keeping breakfast down now. He'll be spending most of the day on the couch or in bed though, I think.

~ Sharon

Meredith said...

I am so glad to hear that Joshua is OK! And you too. Make sure that you all have a quiet day or two.

Thankyou for the wonderful words, "As long as I was praying, Joshua would lie calmly, but when I stopped, soon started crying again." What a beautiful testimony.

I have just prayed that Joshua will stay free of infection or further wound trauma. And I will keep praying.

Meredith said...

How is everything going? And have you kept free from swine flu and other such nasties?

Sharon said...

Hi Meredith,

I think we have held off the swine flu. Not making any guarantees.

Joshua's head is much better, he's been back at school since Tuesday, but is taking it easy with no running or team sports etc.

Other things to do with the kids have been a bit upsetting, but I don't really want to talk about them on the blog right now. I would appreciate prayer for our children's safety at the moment, though. I am trying hard to remember and trust that God is my shield and refuge (as per Proverbs 30:5).

~ Sharon

argsmommy said...

Oh, Sharon! How frightening, but praise God he's okay. Praying for you all...


Meredith said...

I shall pray. God knows the details and He will fill in the gaps - how wonderful He is. No need to blog the details unless that will be helpful for you down the track.