Sunday, August 26, 2012

Getting acquainted with North Carolina's medical system

My cousin Heather is known to make up fabulous stories for otherwise boring injuries. For example, if she fell off her bike and scraped her legs up she'd probably tell you she got in a fight with a mountain goat. Because talking about some injuries is just plain boring because there is no back story.

This is one of those times.

At lunch on Thursday Miriam was goofing off at the table when *boom!* she slipped off the bench and landed smack on her face. By the time I'd picked her up two seconds later there was blood running down her face, covering her hands, dripping onto the floor, splattering on her dress... Head wounds bleed a lot.

I ran her to the kitchen and held her over the sink while I got a paper towel to stop the bleeding. It soaked up two whole paper towels worth of blood but was able to stop the bleeding. We put a bandaid on it and then I worried. And worried some more. And then, for good measure, I worried some more.

I looked information up online. Everything I read told me she needed stitches.

I began to call around to sliding scale clinics around here because we don't have insurance yet (I'll spare you my rant about how much I hate our "health care system" in the States) but wasn't able to get through to anyone. Finally, I called our pediatrician in Utah and asked to speak with the triage nurse who told me to take her in for stitches and to not let her go to sleep before she'd been seen by a doctor.

She also said we had several hours before it couldn't be closed so I could relax and make some plans—we didn't have to rush out the door to the ER. So Andrew and I decided we'd take her to the urgent care center after Rachel's kindergarten open house if it was still bleeding and so forth, which was right in line with what he and Karen had discussed on the car on the way home from school.

Miriam was fine the whole afternoon, though she did complain of a headache and wanted to snuggle a lot. Rachel was a big help with Benjamin while Miriam and I snuggled and unpacked some things—doesn't Rachel look so grown up, holding Benjamin and reading a magazine? I think so.

And speaking of looking all grown up:

And I love Miriam's face in this picture—I think it just about sums up what she thinks of her brother, like she wants to like him...but...

When Andrew and Karen got home, we peeled off Miriam's bandaid to show Andrew the wound. The bandaid needed to be changed anyway because it was soaked through with blood. Andrew gently dabbed at it with a paper towel and it split open and started bleeding again with gusto—nearly four hours later. We patched her up (with some bandaids we found in a first aid kit that was left behind by the house's previous occupants (it's from 1990 and looks it, but the bandaids are still sterile, so...)) and then left for Rachel's open house.

Rachel's teacher seems great. And her school looks great. And more than one person congratulated us on our "large family." And that made me giggle because three kids does not seem like a large family to me (sixteen, thirteen, or even nine kids seems large, but not three).

After we'd done all our business at the school we rushed home to drop Rachel off to sit with Grandma while we took Miriam to the urgent care. Andrew went back with her while I fed Benjamin, then changed his diaper, and then fed him again. 

Andrew said she was both silly and brave. She asked about everything. At one point she asked about the sharps collector—it's pretty interesting because it's marked with a biohazard sign—and Andrew explained that it was a special garbage can for really, really yucky things. As happenstance would have it, the gloves were sitting on the counter under the sharps collector so when the doctor came in and grabbed some gloves Miriam thought he was reaching for the sharps collector and yelled at him, "Don't touch that! It's dirty!"

"No, it's not," the doctor said. "These are just my gloves."

He gave her a pair for herself, which has made her decide that when she grows up (and, she added, when Benjamin grows up, too) she wants to be a doctor.

She flipped out a bit when they asked her to lie down.

"I'm scared!" she cried.

"Tell me what you're scared of, sweetie," the nurse said, "and I'll see what I can do to fix it."

"Uhhhh," hedged Miriam (who I suppose hadn't quite thought of why she was afraid). "I'm scared of the night-dark."

"Well, we're not going to turn out the lights!" the nurse assured her.

So Miriam lay down and let the doctor and nurse do their thing. They debated doing actual stitches for a while but ultimately decided that glue would work. I'm pretty sure stitches would have been rather traumatizing for her so I'm glad they went with the glue.

Here's Miriam on Thursday evening:

We took off the plastic bandaid and put on a cloth one because she wasn't supposed to scratch at the wound. Cloth bandaids just stick better than plastic ones. You can see she's still a little worried about her head:

Tonight we took the bandaid off to give Miriam a bath (thanks, Krystal for those adhesive remover wipes you gave us for Benjamin; I just found them when we were unpacking today which was so great because the cut was so close to her scalp that it was stuck to all those little hairs). Here's Miriam after her bath:

Her forehead didn't end up nearly as bruised as I thought it would and the cut doesn't look so bad now, though I'm still glad we got it glued shut because it is a rather large cut to have on her face—I read that anything longer than a quarter of an inch should be stitched shut. Miriam's laceration (so called because it goes through all the layers of the skin, according to the papers the doctor gave us) is a full centimeter long.

The glue is nice, but it's so invisible that it's hard for me to trust. I'm still worried that her head going to pop open again and start bleeding everywhere. But so far so good...

Hopefully it doesn't leave a noticeable scar, but if it does Miriam's going to have to concoct a good story because her story is kind of lame (I know because it's the same story I have about breaking my arm when I was her age). In her words, she got hurt when she fell off the bench because she was "being goofing around." 


  1. Glad she's okay! At least hers is below the hairline. I got stitches just above my hairline at her age (fell down concrete steps, also just after we'd moved and didn't have doctors yet), so now I always have to part my hair to the side of the scar.

    We were at a Kindergarten playdate this past week and just before we left I heard one of the moms chatting with the principal about young mothers who "look like they're only 28 and already having their second kid!". Shocking! And how her sister is 40-something and has her first going into K and feels weird around those 20-something's who are half her age. I thought it was funny that she was describing me exactly. Sometimes we think we'd have been better off to wait longer to start having kids, but I love knowing that we'll be empty-nesters by the time I'm 46. I'm kinda surprised the people down there said 3 kids was a large family. 4 I can see, but 3 isn't much bigger than the 2 that seems to be most prevalent (around here anyway). But maybe that's because I grew up with 3, so 2 or 3 seems fairly normal while anything larger is what seems big.

  2. Tell me if you've ever noticed that I have a more than one inch long scar on my forehead (complete with a dent in my skull from where my head hit a rock!) that I got when I was Miriam's age. People really don't spend that much time looking at your hair line :)

    The story's not that great, but does have the distinct advantage of letting me tell people that my mother dropped me on my head, which I feel is a great excuse for a lot of things.

  3. Was Josie about M's age when "someone" was flipping her around and she broke her head open? Only it was on top of her head, and Dr. Jensen used her hair to tie her head together, and it worked wonderfully well. So, that is Tamsin, Erin, Josie and Miriam all with head injuries at age 2 or 3...must be trendy for that age!