Lucas and Stitch(es)

I suppose it was inevitable.

We’d always joked that when we had a child, we’d need Oneal’s cousin, an ER doctor, on speed-dial, because of all the scrapes they’d get into. Any child of Oneal’s was bound to climb everything, jump over everything, and hop and skip everywhere.

True enough, here’s Lucas, a bottomless pit of energy. I can’t count the number of times people have said, watching him play and run, “Wow, if we could bottle up all that energy…” If I could sell them in vials, we’d be so rich by now.

So, inevitably, he got into a scrape bad enough to necessitate a trip to the ER. One Sunday, we were at home. I was trying to order groceries. Oneal was doing the laundry. Lucas was playing downstairs. Next thing we know, Lucas is wailing and screaming. We run downstairs, and find him in the dining room, at the top of the stairs coming from his play room. He’s crying and I wrap my arms around him, trying to figure out what happened.

Apparently he’d been running up the stairs, and he tripped. I was worried about scratches and bruises on his leg. Then, Oneal said, “Look at his chin.” That’s when I saw the blood. There was a wide cut on his chin. He cried louder.

Immediately I thought, ER. Oneal was thinking about how many stitches Lucas would need.

We put a towel on his chin to stop the bleeding, though it wasn’t really bleeding profusely. Oneal got some ice and put it in a ziplock bag, to numb the pain. I helped Lucas with some deep breathing, to calm down. I probably needed it as much as he did.

We drove to a nearby hospital, where we explained to the nurse what happened. They did the usual things: checked his temperature and his weight, asked if he lost consciousness or got dizzy, if he injured anything else, asked about the possibility of COVID symptoms. By this time Lucas had stopped crying, but he was starting to panic over the prospect of sutures and needles.

It was around 1:06 pm when the nurses asked us to move into the surgical OR. A pediatrician came over to check on Lucas. Another nurse put betadine, gauze and tape on his chin so that we wouldn’t have to keep holding the towel against the cut. Then all we had to do was wait for the surgeon.

The bleeding had mostly stopped. Fortunately the cut wasn’t deep, just wide. Oneal went to McDonald’s to get some food so Lucas could eat while waiting.

We had already warned Lucas that he would need stitches, and we explained how that would work to help his cut heal. He was panicking, especially when he heard that there would be injections for the anesthesia. I reminded him that he got his vaccines and he was perfectly fine afterwards. When a nurse came and gave him a tetanus shot, Lucas just closed his eyes and hid his face in my neck while I held him. It was over quickly, and he didn’t even cry. “That didn’t even hurt!” he said. “Well, maybe like a pinch.”

When the surgeon arrived, he took a look and asked us how it happened. Oneal had taken a picture of the wound before we’d left the house, so he was able to show the surgeon. The surgeon confirmed that Lucas would need three stitches.

That’s when the panic started. The surgeon and the nurse were ready with the anesthesia and the needle, but Lucas refused to lie down on the bed. He kept shouting, “I’m not ready!” He kept crying, and soon he was hyperventilating. “I’m scared,” he cried. We kept trying to talk him down, and help him breathe, but it was taking so long that the surgeon had to leave to check on another patient.

Finally the surgeon came back, and we got him to lie down. He still cried and tried to get up, but I held down his chest, while Oneal held his legs. We kept telling him to breathe, counting and breathing with him. The anesthesia went in. Then the stitches. Oneal was worried that the surgeon would accidentally stitch me instead of Lucas, because my face was so close to his.

The whole thing must have taken five minutes. When we told Lucas that it was done, he got up and said, “Oh, it’s done?”

The nurse explained how often we had to clean the wound and change the bandage, and gave us a prescription for antibiotics and painkillers. Oneal settled the bill and we left. It was past 3:00 pm.

That week, it was a funny challenge to keep his bandage dry in the shower. A week later, we went back to the hospital and got the stitches removed. He was going to panic again when he saw the doctor coming closer with the scissors, but I held him down and he didn’t really feel any pain. He even went to school afterwards.

It’s been over two weeks, and his cut has healed nicely. I don’t think there’s much of a scar, just a faint white line. But now, every time he’s running around the house, jumping, and doing other things 6-year-old boys do, we remind him of his little ordeal.

Not like he’s going to stop running around!

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