Howard's split lip
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.