Tuesday, June 9th 2015
After spending the whole morning at the school embroiled in a parent volunteer project per usual, I made it back across town to my favorite cafe for some productive office and writing time. It was about half an hour before I got the CALL, from the number I recognize so well: School Nurse. Curious as to which of my children got bonked or scraped this time, I calmly listen as Mary Margaret implores me to come asap this time. ClaraJane has smashed her thumb in the bathroom stall door and she needs to see a doctor right away. When I arrive she is ensconced in the doting care of Donna the Lunch Lady and Mike the Custodian who are busy entertaining and distracting her with animated conversation.
Nurse Mary Margaret swaps out wet paper towels for gauze in the first of many traumatic dressing changes of the day, and somewhere in that flurry ClaraJane’s thumbnail goes missing altogether.
As her pediatrician has no openings, we head to Cambridge City Hospital to see the first of a parade of wonderful, intelligent, competent, communicative and compassionate medical professionals.
Somewhere during one of the (many painful) examinations, I capture this glimpse at the offending wound:
The hugeness of ClaraJane’s tremendous heart and and intellectual curiosity carry through all this chi-chi, even having while having to contort her hand in all different -and motionless- positions for X-Rays:
One great bonus when your child is sick or injured is that a) every other priority disappears, and the only thing that matters is, b) being together. To that end ClaraJane enjoys a little diversion from her perch on my lap:
In the afternoon Daddy joins us after work.
Just in time for the next dressing removal, yay!
Turns out in addition to ripping off the thumb nail, our dear daughter also managed to fracture the bone in the tip of her thumb AND deeply lacerate the nail bed, which would require some mending in order for it to have a chance of eventually healing properly (like regrowing the nail, for example).
Turns out Cambridge City Hospital doesn’t have any Pediatric Orthopedic Plastic Surgeons on hand (ba dum ch, go figure), so we are faced with a most spectacular 1st-1st World Problem: Boston Children’s Hospital or Mass General? This was honestly our dilemma yesterday; WHICH of these two world class medical institutions would we like to be referred? Although my instincts said Children’s, the relationship with these doctors and our insurance etc. begged a much smoother transition experience over to MGH.
In a dubious but imperative move, ClaraJane and I stop for the much promised trip to our friendly neighborhood ice cream store.
I didn’t have the heart to tell her yet that her ordeal was far from over. Nor did I exactly anticipate that eating ice cream at 3:30pm would make her ineligible for surgery until 9:30pm. (NOR that surgical teams would be available at that time!) But it worked out on account of the most surreal part of this day for me; having to drop Daddy and ClaraJane off in downtown Cambridge and leave them to take the T to MGH without me because in the middle of it all I had a GIG.
One hop on the T-stop over the river from Kendall/MIT and they are at MGH. (Shudder to think we actually considered that I would drive them there in rush hour… yikes.) Now Daddy gets more lap time with our Angel Brave.
ClaraJane finally submits to exhaustion before the anesthesiologist even gets to her. Not the first time DLove has held his baby while watching Red Sox in a hospital.
I arrive at the unexpectedly exquisite pediatric wing of the MGH E.R. just as the Plastic Surgeon and supervising physician are ready to explain everything in explicit, thoughtful, fascinating detail. The sedative drug they use is “Ketamine” -of horse-tranquilizer and rave fame- but in a pediatric safe, appropriate, tried, true and tested dose. It induces a “twilight sleep,” within about 30 seconds, after which Paul and I were kindly excused from the room as they set to work deeply irrigating the wound, stitching up the nail bed and implanting a tiny aluminum stint to keep a slot open for the nail to (hopefully) grow back.
She comes through like the trooper she is; with “the strength of a hundred men,” as the doctor said.
The doctor had also been impressed with ClaraJane’s powers of reasoning. She’d tried every tact to convince ClaraJane to let her examine the wound for example, and ClaraJane demurred and reasoned against her at every turn.
“If I can’t see it,” posited the doctor, “How can I fix it?”
“Oh I’ll just tell you about it,” countered ClaraJane.
“Touché!” said the doctor, who doctor eventually had to just go for it, only to encounter ClaraJane’s “strength of 100 men.”
Eventually she regains both her senses and functioning, all the cables and wires are removed, papers are signed and we are discharged home around midnight. Whoo!
It was only about a 12 hour ordeal.
ClaraJane’s version on the phone to her beloved Bubble Wow today: “I slammed the bathroom door on my thumb and the nail ripped off. And there was blood. And I was crying and had to go to the nurse’s office and get some ice. Then my mamma came and then I went home because I couldn’t go to school.”
In the inimitable way of kids, she has adapted to the use of one hand with zero adjustment period, and has been happily playing around the house as Daddy and I work to regain our senses (as I do by dallying in this blog). In fact here is her victory pose from underneath the box she’s playing with, which otherwise houses all the play dough toys you see coincidentally spread before us.
And that’s a wrap on my “discretionary” time today. Wouldn’t you know it’s time to go back to school to retrieve (and reunite with) Brother, who graciously stayed with Bubble Wow last night, who was our savior for keeping him. It’s actually time for his annual check up with our pediatrician. We’re gonna have a lot to talk about today!
PS: Incidentally, the Pediatric Ortho Department claims to see a LOT of this type of digital obfuscation from getting crunched in doors, albeit most often from “Sib on Sib” aggression (aka: slamming doors), which pretty much describes how I lost my toenail once when I was a kid, but that is another story. (No worries Bro; you’re the best!)