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One Cobble at a Time

Howard's split lip

Sandra Tayler's Journal

responsible woman

A cobble by itself is just a small stone, but when many of them lay together they create a path . My life is made up of many discrete parts. I have to find ways to fit them all into place so that I can continue to journey where I desire to go. This journal records some of the cobbles that create my path.

Howard's split lip

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responsible woman
First I will say that in the grand scheme, Howard's injury is minor. He has three stitches and some very colorful bruising. For the rest of the story and my thoughts on why I am a better mother than I am a paramedic you can click the link. If you are sqeamish about blood, you may want to skip it.


Howard was leaning down to kiss the top of Patch's head at the exact moment that Patch decided to jump. Head collided with face and then the shouting began. Howard shouted in pain. Patch began screaming "I didn't mean to!" repeatedly. All the rest of us turned to look at the two of them. This is when I failed as a paramedic. I stayed with the distressed child even when Howard spat blood out and dashed for the sink dripping as he went. At the moment of crisis, my motherhood instincts trumped the injury management instincts. In hindsight, physical trauma should get more immediate attention than emotional trauma. The only conclusion that I can come to for my failure to respond correctly is that I believe on a deep level in Howard's ability to manage a crisis. I knew that Howard was managing the injury and that seemingly left me available to tend to the wide-eyed children who had seen daddy spit blood on the floor. Except I forgot that Howard was injured and in minor shock from physical pain and the sight of the blood. People in shock need someone nearby to direct and help. The kids were in shock too. Patch wrapped his arms around my legs and held on for dear life. They were all wide-eyed and shaky. Gleek was inclined to huddle underneath a table hugging her blankets. So I flittered between looking at Howard's wound, and tending to children. Then Howard declared that he believed he needed to go to the emergency room for stitches. And still my focus was more on the kids than getting Howard to the doctor. I got them settled with a neighbor, (I love my neighbors) only then was I free to give Howard my full attention. He ended up with three stitches on the inside of his lower lip.

My reactions frustrate me because I like to believe that I have a calm head in a crisis. I like to believe that I can take charge and make necessary decisions. I was calm. I did take charge, but my focus was on the kids rather than the injury. I am certain that if the injury had been more serious, I would have reacted differently. It was just that the injury and the distressed children were nearly equal in severity in my head.

As usual, my reaction came later. After the stitches. After paperwork and the drive home. After assuring myself that the kids were all fine. After the next session of conference. That was when I got shaky and tearful. That was when I began to really second guess all my actions as my brain tried to figure out how I can do better next time.

Next time I will look the kids in the eyes and say. "I know you are scared. It is going to be okay, but I need to take care of Daddy now." Or at least that is the plan.
  • No plan ever survives contact with the enemy.

    I'm glad to hear that neither Patch nor Howard were hurt seriously. Don't forget to offer him ice cream to soothe the wound. In fact, you can suggest Patch deliver it to help daddy get better.

    And don't worry about next time. You'll do fine.

    Cheers!
  • Hugs, and don't beat yourself up for tending to the kids' emotional reactions. You're used to seeing Howard handle "the emergency" while you keep the children from freaking, whatever it may be ... this normally works in that Howard can focus on the fixing knowing the kids are in your hands, and you can focus on the kids knowing Howard's handling the issue. Don't beat yourself up because this one time you fell into the well-worn and working roles and they didn't exactly work. Now you know one of the things to look for as an indicator that Howard might need assistance, too.

    While working ambulance, I was surprised at how often "{parent} has a boo-boo" seemed to work on small children. Not always, and they're still scared or upset, but it often helped keep the panic at bay. So maybe it's not fair comparing severe lacerations to a scratch, but putting it in terms that they remember getting a scratch and it hurt and bled a bit and they were afraid but it didn't hurt much after a while and is all better now ...

    Then again, I just got back from dinner where I taught my almost-2-years-old 'niece' to answer "What does the Zombie say?" with "BRRRAAAIIINNNSS". So I'm not exactly any kind of authority on child management :)

    How're things now that several hours have passed? *hugs*
    • Well, Daddy is in a lot of pain, all of it localized to the very front of his mouth, where the nice doctor sewed up his lip. The Orajel didn't do much, and the Tylenol does little besides make sure I don't end up with a headache.

      Oh well. The pain is localized, and therefore not debilitating. I'm just whining a lot because that's what I do.
      • Whining is severely underrated as a coping mechanism.
      • You're allowed to whine here. That type of thing HURTS, it's nagging and distracting and almost impossible to just ignore sitting right there in front of the teeth and all that. In front of the kids, we can act like nothing-REALLY-BAD happened, but that doesn't mean NOTHING happened.

        Besides, if you whine here with us, we'll be all sympathetic. If you whine at home, you just teach the children it's OK to whine.

        Sometimes it stinks to have to be the good example.

        Doing any better now after a night's sleep?

    • Then again, I just got back from dinner where I taught my almost-2-years-old 'niece' to answer "What does the Zombie say?" with "BRRRAAAIIINNNSS". So I'm not exactly any kind of authority on child management :)


      +1. You'd fit in fine with my family. :-)
      • Zombie...

        (Anonymous)
        A couple of years ago when my daughter was two years old we went to an easter service with my parents. The pastor had an open coffin sitting in the sanctuary with a sign that say's "He isn't here". While my parents attempted explain the significance of the coffin and easter to jesus, my daughter leaned over to my wife and said. "I didn't know Jesus was a Zombie"....

        You'd get along just fine at my dinner table as well.
        • Re: Zombie...

          Once I was teaching a church lesson to toddlers about animals. We were talking about how birds live in trees, fish live in water, etc. Then a beautiful little girl with blond ringlets raised her hand and very seriously informed me that Zombies live in graveyards.
          • Re: Zombie...

            What do you follow up to such a thing? Accept that zombies live in a graveyard and move on? Try to explain that zombies aren't real?
            • Re: Zombie...

              I give it the same treatment that I give to the random stories that children volunteer about their cousins, dog, cat, trees, rocks, or any other stray thought that enters their heads. I redirect. "That's nice. Now where do dogs live?"
            • Re: Zombie...

              Or try to explain that zombies don't "live" exactly, because they're undead, and really confuse them?
      • :) Thank you.

        It's fun having friends have the kids for you. I get the spoiling and fun interaction and handing her back. Sure, sometimes there's a diaper to change or a tantrum or spill, sometimes I get hit up for presents and babysitting now and then ... small price to pay. A couple of weeks ago I watched her for a while so Mommy & Daddy could go to panels. I took her to the Bellydancing For Kids panel and she had a blast trying to imitate the moves (we adults had far more fun watching her than watching the lesson).

        And small victories, like when she discards her other plushies for the stuffed whale shark I bought from the Atlanta Aquarium. It's her favorite carry-around comfort-toy and bumper-pillow. TAKE THAT, GRANDMA! You and your fluffy traditional teddy bears *hmph*
    • Way back when Kiki was 2, Howard was playing lots of the original Warcraft. We taught her "What does an orc say?" "Dagoo!"
      • ooh, NICE one! I like ...

        *writes it down for the next gaming night visit*

      • I remember that. That was So Cute!
        I still say that to myself sometimes when playing WoW and I see an orc.
  • Keeping a calm head and figuring out priorities comes with practice. You did fine, and now you know better what to do if something like that happens in the future.
    • This bothered me because I usually do much better. I've handled everything from the time Kiki rode a bike face first into a mailbox to when my niece had a broken arm from falling off a bunk bed.

      But thanks. I believe I will do better if there is a next time because I took the time to think through my reactions this time.
      • Yeah, but those times the "emotional hurt" and "physical hurt" were both focused on kids. It's understandable that you would focus on the kids this time too.

        Besides, it was only three stitches... But it doesn't even hurt that much. That big sissy...

        I kid, I kid!!! *cowers* Don't hit me!!!
  • Well, ouch. Reminds me of the Christmas where I stabbed myself with my knife during a fight to the death with a tie-strap, but that's beside the point.

    Every once in a while when I read a post from the Tayler household, I find myself thinking, "They really ought to be running tape 24/7. This stuff's just too apropos."

    Hope Howard's lip feels better soon and that Patch isn't too freaked out about being a cranial pugilist.
    • I shall take this as a complement to my storytelling skills that I make the normal chaos of family life sound interesting enough for tape.

      Patch is fine now. All the kids are fine now. Normality has been restored for everyone except Howard who has some healing to do.
  • From an outside perspective, your reaction was probably the best for the situation. Were you to have left the kids, then they would have been alone in their wondering if Dad was okay. More than likely, you would have come to the same conclusion as Howard - and then figure out all the stuff with the kiddos.

    As happens, you two managed fairly well, more or less working as a team to get the situation under control.The paramedic's brain was working, and gave you a quick list of priorities and actions. Were he truly hurt (well... hurt more), then you'd probably have picked a different path.

    Maybe, when they're older, you can reassure them during a crisis via words. Now? Enjoy the leg-clinging and parenting bits some :).
  • You followed proper emergency procedure:

    (Anonymous)
    Disclaimer: I am not a paramedic, but I am a trained first-aider and Boy Scout.

    Asses the situation: The cause of the injury was resolved, you could approach safely.

    Spinal injury: Not indicated.
    Airway: You heard him, so he could breathe:
    Breathing: See A
    Circulation: You judged the amount of blood lost to be minimal. As the patient was standing and talking, he had a pulse.

    A young child had just been through the very stressful experience of seeing a parent spit blood on the floor. There are documented cases of sudden emotional shock causing a drop in blood pressure, causing circulatory shock. As well, panic and associated hyperventilation could easily result in another victim.

    I'm not saying that you acted for the right reasons, but treating the potential victim first seems to me to be medically the best course of action.
    • Re: You followed proper emergency procedure:

      You're right. I did make the best decision I could at the time. I did not dither or panic. I addressed immediate needs as quickly as I could get to them.

      The fact that I am second guessing myself later is also part of the process. This is how I try to learn from the experience and refine my responses so that for the next emergency my choices will be even better.

      Thanks for the vote of support.
    • Re: You followed proper emergency procedure:

      (Anonymous)
      Yes, there's also one more aspect of triage: potential for further self-repair or self-injury. It does get so much more interesting when all of your patients are self-ambulatory, instead of waiting for you to sort them out.
      Howard promptly went into his own damage control mode and halted all other actions, assessed his injury, began self administered first aid, and self-judged that the damage would require further assistance. He triaged himself.
      Patch, of course, panicked and started running around-a situation very likely to create a second casualty if he collided with anything.
      Even though Howard was the one bleeding, Patch was the one that needed to be secured first.
  • You did good.

    I know you feel bad, but I think you did right. Even bleeding and screaming, it sounds as if Howard had himself in hand. However it sounds as if the kids mental trauma was more immediate.
    Now once it was determined that a band aid or one of your best towels, (they always grab the best ones in a crisis) was not going to do the job, you got the kids over to the neighbors and Howard to the Dr. Sounds to me like you did what was needed as it was needed.
    If Howard is not blaming you for tending the kids first, you shouldn't.

    If he is, tell him that next time I see him I am going to punch him in his stitches. (in as loving a way as it is possible to punch someone in the stitches who deserving it)
  • Mother

    (Anonymous)
    You have to remember you are a mother first and a wife second. No matter the amount of training a person has they will always protect their cubs over their mate/spouse (I'm 33 and when I ride in the car with my mom she still puts her arm out in front of me when she has to stop quickly.) You did absolutely nothing wrong and I am 95% sure you will do the same thing in the future for an injury of this level. Now, if you crank the injury level up a little more the situation may be different but I am guaranteeing that you will run to your child before your spouse if they are both involved (sorry Howard.) I am glad everyone is ok both physically and emotionally and that everyone is well on the road to recovery. Both of you keep up the good work and raise those children right, we need more intelligent and creative individuals in the world right now and in the future!
    - Jason
    • Re: Mother

      (Anonymous)
      Jason - most of us become wives (or husbands) first, and then parents. And our kids need us to be that way: first mates, then parents. People who neglect their mates to focus on their kids teach their kids that a relationship only survives for the sake of the kids and that they as kids can get ahead by playing one against the other. Sandra's doing a great job of taking care of things in the here-and-now and reviewing them against her ideals and values in the longer term.
  • "And now for something completely different....."

    I hope the following link gets you two laughing (if Howard can still smile) and not offended at me; I'm only trying to lighten things up a bit.

    Here's the link to Today's Hagar the Horrible comic. When I saw it, I couldn't help but think of Howard. ; )
  • You did just fine.

    Well, I am a Paramedic, and have worked full time either in an ambulance or the ER for 14 years. I think that your reaction was just perfect, personally. It's very easy to get worked up and panicky when someone has a head/facial injury since they tend to bleed pretty spectacularly. You didn't get upset, you kept the kids calm, and you let Howard manage his own injury since he was awake and perfectly capable of doing so. From the sounds of it, reassuring the kids and keeping them calm means that you are more likely to remember the whole thing longer than they will, and I can't see how this is a bad thing. I only wish that more bystanders/witnesses to things like this could keep as calm and rational as you were during an emergency.
    Also, the shaking is COMPLETELY NORMAL! Please do not let it worry you. It's totally expected that someone will get the shakes once they have had time to relax and let the adrenaline rush wear off. Second guessing after the fact is also normal and expected.
    Please, do not let it bother you too much. It sounds to me like your gut instincts are right on target. Do you have any first aid training? It might be worth checking with the local Red Cross/Hospital/Ambulance company and seeing if they have classes coming up. The classes will give you a chance to practice handling emergencies, and this helps to make the right decisions/reactions more automatic when crunch time comes.
  • "Next time I will look the kids in the eyes and say. "I know you are scared. It is going to be okay, but I need to take care of Daddy now." Or at least that is the plan."

    I love the fact you need to say 'next time'. Not 'If I could do it over'.
    • Thanks. It is easy to fall into the trap of mentally trying to re-write the past. Planning ahead for another such instance is much more useful. Unfortunately letting go of the re-write is much more difficult when there are long-term consequences involved.
      • Your welcome.
        I know what you mean, there are often times I wish I had have studied and performed at school to the best of my ability, rather then slack away on a gaming system of some sort. Resulting in me being at university now, rather then not having gone. But then I realise I wouldn't have my beautiful fiancee or daughter. :)
        Also on that note, I am definitely not as slack as I used to be. ;)
  • As a parent and a spouse it seems to me that you did exactly right under the circumstances. Howard was up and moving and appeared to be coping, and when he decided he needed your help he let you know. If you had heard him drop to the ground in the other room or something then the priorities would change, but given that it was a head-bonk from a small child and not a car accident or something it seems to me that it would be reasonable to assume he wasn't so shocky he couldn't cope. And your kids needed you specifically, a complete stranger could have gotten him to the hospital, I'm not saying you should have left him to strangers but strangers could if necessary more or less cope, whereas a complete stranger trying to minimize the trauma to the kids is just not going to be as comforting and believable as mom, there's really no way around that.

  • While I am sorry that Howard needed stitches, he is a big boy and if he had needed your help while Patch was crying he was in a state where he could have told you. If he had been in a worse state you would have taken care of Howard first. I know you to be a more logical person than you are making yourself out to be in your recap of events.

    There were two incidents where I had to be taken to the emergency room while Roo was a baby. Once with a Fever of 104 and once with a concusion. I had to have someone other than my husband take me to the hospital both times because He had to stay with the baby. I don't blame him for that either time, because Roo was a baby.
    • The Bouncing Baby, the oft misunderstood and much less effective cousin of the Bouncing Betty.
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