Scarlett’s Accident

(This is a backlog post. It should have gone up June 3.)

There comes a time in every child’s life when they experience something that can make a mother’s heart stop.

With Logan, it was his premature birth and 10 day hospitalization. With Lila it was the time she drank turpentine at 2 years, 1 month old. Scarlett had yet to do something to freak me out severely (other than running off in a bookstore and hiding when she was 18 months old), but that changed last week.

I will have to begin with some background.

It was Monday, a rather stressful day for me because it is grocery shopping day. I used to shop alone with Scarlett while the other two were at school, but now with the arrival of summer holidays, I have no choice but to shop with all three kids.

Logan was already fussing when we got to the mall because we were only doing grocery shopping, and he wanted to go to the arcade and toy shop. He has no patience for shopping so he was running around, touching everything – every display, every shelf, every food item. He broke candy bars, crushed bags of chips and grabbed everything he could. Normally he is fairly obedient and can manage a trip to the store without too much wildness, but this day his hyperactive nature had taken over and it was all I could do to not yell at him right there. (He has ADHD.)

He continued to be wild during lunch and rest time, and on into the afternoon. He was mean to the girls and kept making them cry. Any sort of punishment didn’t faze him at all.

I finally decided to take the kids to the playground near our house, hoping that some outdoor play could burn some of his energy and tire him out. Yet he continued to be wild. Several times I had to pull him aside from his play as he was biting and pinching the other children. He even bit his own lip when he fell as he was racing up the slide.

The whole time I was keeping half an eye on the girls as they climbed the jungle gym. They are both quite good at it, so, while I stay near them, I don’t have to be right there. At one point I had to go to Logan again, and I didn’t see Scarlett follow me, nor did I see her climb the straight metal slide (not the ladder but the slide) until she was at the top.

She learned to climb the slide some time ago (barefoot), but I’m always next to her as there are no safety rails and she hasn’t yet figured out how to turn from her climb to sitting without putting her butt over the side. I’m sure you can guess what happened next.

It was almost like seeing something in slow motion. I saw her at the top of the slide. I saw her begin to turn, and then I knew she was going to fall. I was too far away to get there in time to catch her. I left Logan and forgot his naughtiness as I ran to my baby.

The slide was about 6 feet at the highest point and she fell from the top, landing in the sand flat on her chest and tummy, hitting her lips hard on one side. Horror stories that I had heard of kids dying from falling off a slide filled my mind, and I struggled to push them away so I could focus on Scarlett. At first she cried while I carried her to a bench and tried to clean the sand off her face, but then she was quiet, scarily quiet. She just sat on my lap and looked at everything. I kept asking her questions but she wouldn’t answer. I managed to round up Logan and Lila, and we rushed home. All I could think of was getting her home, putting ice on her ever-swelling lips, and helping her recover from the shock she was in.

She wouldn’t let me put ice on her lip, nor did she want me to get the sand out of her mouth, both of which made her cry. I was afraid she had some internal injury since she was so quiet. I called Glad, who was working on the other side of town, and told him what had happened.

He asked some questions and then reassured me that she was probably fine but to keep an eye on her.  I held her close and told her how sorry I was that I hadn’t been close enough to catch her. I couldn’t do anything but rock her. After about 30 minutes (from the time she fell) she began to move around. I put a video on for her and then went to my room to cry. The guilt I felt was massive. How had I not noticed her following me? Why wasn’t I paying more attention? Why hadn’t I been right there to catch her? It was awful.

Finally I realized I had some hungry kids on my hands so I forced myself to get up and cook dinner, even though I wasn’t very hungry and could hardly stand to look at food. Surprisingly, Scarlett ate a good dinner! I thought she might just have some yogurt because she could hardly open her mouth, but she figured a way to slip the food in on the side that wasn’t sore. (Fried chicken liver, French fries, and cucumber slices.)

Afterwards she was perky and climbing around, even jumping! She was fine as I showered everyone and got them ready for bed. I let her lie in my bed and she went to sleep quickly.

Glad kept checking in every hour, and he was sure she didn’t have any internal injury, since she was breathing well, had eaten and didn’t throw up, nor was she complaining of any pains other than her massively swollen lip and a sore chest. I, however, was still freaking out inside.

I kept her in bed with me all night. At one point she scared me by waking up and just sitting there and staring straight ahead. After what seemed like forever, she told me she wanted water and to get up, but it was only about 4 in the morning so I convinced her to go back to sleep.

In the morning her lip looked scary. The top one on the right side was big and puffy, the bottom about half the size. Above, below, and on her lips were all the tiny scratches that had scabbed overnight. Scarlett herself was perky as ever, ate a good breakfast, had a normal bowel movement, and showed every sign of being ok internally. But just to be safe, Glad took her to the hospital for a checkup.

I didn’t feel relief until they got home. The doctor had confirmed that she had no internal injury, and her lip was going to be just fine. The swelling went down rapidly over the next two days, so fast, in fact, that we could see a difference from one hour to the next. Now, exactly one week later, all the scabs are gone and there is no evidence that she had such a bad fall.

Since that day I’ve made sure to stay right next to her at the park whenever she is climbing. She is daring, like Lila, and will climb on most anything, so I can’t let her out of my sight. She may be a good climber, but she is still a toddler and doesn’t have as good balance as Lila does.

I shudder every time I think back on that moment when she fell. I’m thankful she fell from the 6’ slide and not the higher spiral one that she so loves. I’m thankful I wasn’t far when she fell, so I could pick her up right away. I’m thankful she wasn’t seriously injured. And I’m most thankful she is still here.

What has your child done to freak you out?

Christmas Memories From 2005

I do have many Christmas memories, most of which are very happy and fun (and I will tell you all about them in another post), but today I am going to tell you about a Christmas that I won’t ever forget. It happened 4 years ago today.

On December 5, 2005,  I was in a car accident that left me with a fractured arm (in 5 places), a gash on my right cheek, a sprained ankle, and on crutches for the whole season. There were 7 of us in the car but only 2 got hurt, and I was least hurt. The boy in the seat in front of me was knocked unconscious, had severe head injuries, and to this day has no recollection of the accident. The others made it out without injury.

We were returning to Bangalore after a trip to Goa. Part of the road in Goa winds through the mountains and you can’t see around the curves. We were in a brand new Toyota Innova and got hit on the drivers’ side (that is the right here in India). What happened was, a truck, one of those huge shipping trucks that are common here, was parked on the road. There was no side to the road so the driver had left it parked on the road where the oncoming traffic was. Things like this are common, so no one would think much of it.

Another similar truck was coming from the other direction and we couldn’t see it. Our driver swerved in time to avoid a head-on collision, but the truck ripped through the car from the passenger door behind the driver all the way out the back. The boy who got hurt was sitting in front of me and had fallen asleep with his head on the window. That is why he got hit so hard. He was also not wearing a seat belt, so was thrown to the side when we got hit. I was awake and wearing a seat belt, but somehow the force of the impact caused me to get hurt.

As soon as the truck hit us, our car spun around 360 degrees for a whole spin (maybe two). The roof rack with all our luggage was ripped off and bags went everywhere.  Windows were blown out. My glasses went flying. A necklace I was wearing broke off and I never found it again. Next to the boy who got hurt were two younger children. Of course seeing him get knocked out and his head bleeding freaked them out and they were both screaming.

Once the car stopped, the driver got out to assess the damage. The children’s mother got them out and brushed shards of glass off of them, while the girl who had been lying down and sleeping next to me (and didn’t get hurt at all) climbed over the seat to check on the boy. After rounding up the luggage and finding out where the local hospital was, we slowly drove off.

I picked up my glasses, but since the glass was out of them, they were useless to me. I left them on the seat as we arrived at the tiny local clinic. People surrounded the car right away, mostly of curiosity, as is so common during an accident here. Then the doctor arrived along with a few other people. The right side of the car was so dented that the roof was pushed onto the seat and the door could not open, so they pulled the boy out from the other side and onto a stretcher.

Then it was my turn. The only way out of the back was to climb over the seat in front. At that time, I knew I was injured but I didn’t know how badly. Moving was painful, but I had to get myself out.  I slowly stepped out, and someone, trying to help me into the wheelchair, put their hand on my right shoulder and I screamed from the pain. I was wheeled into a small room to await treatment.

While the others took care of the many details that come with an accident and injuries, I was in a small room with several doctors and assistants. I should mention that this hospital was so “local” that everyone was barefooted and the floor was cement. Once person washed the glass from my eyes and face, and stitched up the gash in my cheek. Then came the x-rays. They tried to get me to stand up for a full-body x-ray, but I couldn’t stand without feeling faint, so they got as many as they could while I was lying down. I told them where I was hurting and they x-rayed that part. But I had to stand for them to x-ray my shoulder and I nearly did faint. Once that was done, I was moved to another room.

Meanwhile they were trying to figure out how to help the unconscious boy. This clinic was so small that they didn’t have any of what he desperately needed, and it was so out of the way that they had to send back to Goa for an ambulance, which only arrived a few hours later.  After a while, the boy was moved into the room I was in, followed by a senior doctor and a group of nursing students. They stood around while the doctor shaved the boy’s head and stitched the large gash that he had. They also cut his clothes off so they could check the rest of his body for injuries.

After he was cared for, I got a plaster cast put on my arm and it helped me feel better. I remember needing to use the toilet by this time, and struggling with my jeans, having only one good hand to use.

Once the ambulance arrived, we were moved into it, and everyone else got in too. We were heading back to Goa, to take the boy to a better-equipped hospital. His parents were called and they were able to meet us there. I stayed in Goa for about a week, slowly recovering at the home of some people I didn’t know, while the boy was in critical condition in the hospital. Soon I was able to get a flight back to Bangalore and rest at home, but I spent the whole Christmas season hobbling on a crutch. My left foot was sprained, as was my right shoulder,  and my right arm and hand were in a cast. At least I was still able to get around. But it was a rather painful Christmas.

Here I am all bashed up. My fingers and foot turned all shades of purple before they healed. The little girl is Sakshi. I was her nanny for 3 years. This was taken after I got home, not more than 2 weeks after the accident.

After a short time, I found that my arm was swelling under the cast, so I went to a doctor and he cut the cast, then later had me come for a new one. The new one was one of those molded ones that is soft when they wrap it but then hardens. I had to wear the cast for 9 weeks because some of the smallest bones in my hand were fractured. They take longer to heal because there is less blood flow to them than to other bones.

Because of this, I learned to do many things with my left hand that I wasn’t able to do before, such as writing and putting on makeup. I can’t do those things now as I stopped practicing once the cast came off, but I got pretty good at it out of necessity.

It took me years to get over the fear of traveling on the highway here. Even now I am uncomfortable on the highway. I never ride in the front seat while on the highway, only the back.

And in case you are wondering, this boy, who was 15 at the time, made a full recovery. Only a few months after he was released from the hospital in Bangalore (where he was moved to since that was where his parents were living),  he went back to the hospital in Goa, where the doctors had been convinced he wasn’t going to make it, and sang for them. (He is a singer and musician.) The nurses cried, so happy to see someone they had fought for make it.

While that wasn’t one of my happier Christmases it sure is memorable.

Spring Cleaning

Have you ever walked into your room and realized that it was long overdue for a thorough cleaning? I had that revelation today. It seemed that while I was in the hospital, all the local spiders had decided to move in. There were cobwebs in not only every corner of the room but also along the walls in between. My desk had long since ceased being a desk. It was now a graveyard of forgotten items covered in dust. I didn’t even have space to put the laptop down so I could use it.

Yes, I know you are going to yell at me for working, but what would you have done? I went slow and only did what I could. First I opened all the windows to let out the stale air-con air (yes, we have an air-con now and sleep so much better for it) that had been permeating the room all week since it was installed. I realized the screens were dirty so I hosed them down and hung them to dry.

Then I dusted every surface in sight, beginning with the window frames which were beyond dirty, then the doors, the lamp, and even the clock. The desk took some time to find under the many piles of who-knows-what that was on it. I finally got down to the surface and cleaned it well. When it came time to replace the stuff that belongs there, I made Glad show me all the stuff that was there that could be thrown away since most of it was papers of his that had been there for at least 2 months and not moved. (I’m serious about the state of the desk. This is no joke.) I was able to throw most of it away. Wow. I now had space for the laptop with room to spare. And with the dust and cobwebs gone and the fresh air coming it, we could all breathe easy again.

Once I could see the surface of my bed again, I made the bed and put the laundry away. I didn’t bother with the tough stuff like cleaning the fan since I can’t reach it anyway. Glad will have to do that one. (By the way, if you don’t want anyone to know your fan is dirty, just leave it on all the time.) And I left the floors since I can’t bend over and I left the toys for the same reason. The only other thing I did was clean the bathroom, not a difficult job once everything is removed. I just use the toilet spray hose and hose it down, wipe everything with disinfectant, use a little laundry soap on the ceramics, hose it all again and let it dry before returning everything to its place.

Okay, I see a question from those of you who have never lived in India. What is a toilet spray hose? Well, it’s like a mini hose with a tiny nozzle that you use to spray your butt after using the toilet. It’s a step up from the bucket of water under a tap that is next to the toilet that you use with what looks like a small measuring cup to pour the water to wash yourself. But it has a strong spray so it’s good for cleaning the bathroom and the floor and even your feet when they are dirty. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here it is.

Notice the tap at the bottom of the hose. And if you are wondering where the toilet paper is, it’s right above the hose. But not every bathroom here has that. Most places won’t have toilet paper, so if that is your preference, you’d better carry some with you when you go out.

On another note, Logan had an accident today. I’m not sure how he did it as he was on the floor playing, but he fell forward and drove both his front teeth into his lower lip. It must have been painful as he screamed and cried so much, and it was bleeding profusely. We rinsed it with water and I held an ice cube to it to numb it. Even then, it took a few minutes before the bleeding stopped. But with some cuddles and a chance to lick the ice cube, Logan was back to his happy self in a few minutes and went back to play. He isn’t one of those kids who drags out the agony of an injury and cries long after the pain is over. Sometimes I am more worried about the injury than he is. He gets over it quickly.

Just before bed, daddy was having some playtime with Logan, and he decided to do some push-ups, just to see how many he could do as he hasn’t had much chance for exercise lately. But every time he would start, Logan would crawl up on his legs and attack him. Finally he put Logan in the crib and Logan just stood there and laughed so hard at each one that Glad could only do about 5 before he would fall to the floor laughing. He never did get past 5 reps, because Logan was laughing so hard that it was impossible not to laugh. I had to look the other way as when I laugh it hurts my scar, but I couldn’t help it. It was too cute.

Sixteen Months Old

Yes, he is now sixteen months old, and acting more and more like a toddler than a baby. He is also getting more injuries now that he is walking more, especially on his head. Many times I will find a scratch, cut, or bruise and won’t know how he got it, but lately he has been getting a lot of bumps on his head, the kind that swell up into a big bump and leave a bruise for a while.

Yesterday at the park he met a little girl his age who wanted to play with him. They were having fun until she went to give him a hug. They both fell, but Logan got the worst of it. He landed on his head and within seconds it got swollen. He cried so much. I wasn’t able to put ice on it right away since we were too far from home to leave immediately, but I did put ice on it later when we got home and he wailed then. I think it really hurt to have it touched, because last week he hit his head on the other side and it almost got swollen but I had put ice on it immediately and it didn’t swell but did leave a bruise. That time he didn’t mind the ice, but this time he did.

Anyway, the swelling went away in a few hours and by morning there was nothing but a scratch and bruise. Look closely at the picture below and you can see the bump. This was about 5 minutes later. Poor little guy.

I guess injuries are a part of life for little boys. Most of his falls are due to his not walking so well yet. It is cute to watch him walk; he holds his arms up in the air and does a sort of march.

Here he is at the park on another day. He loves that ball and likes to chase it wherever the wind blows it.

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