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Friday, October 31, 2008

Last Sunday

I'm on my way to the bathroom as Tabitha hurls herself into the house screaming, "Mom! I'm bleeding! You have to come look!" I look longingly at the bathroom and tell her I'm coming.

I walk upstairs, look at the amount of blood, assume since it's gushing from her foot in copious amounts that we'll probably need stitches and tell her I'll take her to the emergency room right after I take care of my own emergency. I relieve myself, walk back upstairs, grab another towel, and load my daughter into my arms. By the way, her 85 pounds is quickly approaching my own weight, so I stagger a bit as I carry her to the car and set her in the passenger seat.

Tabitha (wailing): I need Adam!
Me: Since when?
Tabitha: Mom!! He's like my best friend in the whole world! I need him!
Me: You two fight all the time.
Tabitha: I know! But I need him!
Me (sighing): Okay, I'll ask him to come, but he might say no, and you can't pitch a fit if he does. You'll get blood all over my car.
Tabitha: He'll say yes. He loves me.

I roll my eyes, dreading Adam's refusal to come and Tabitha's inevitable temper tantrum. I notice Adam standing by the window.

Me: Adam, Tabitha wants to know if you'll come with us.

Within ten seconds Adam is in the back seat--belted in. I'm a bit confused, but I head for the emergency room.

We arrive at our destination to find it filled with a motley crew of injured and sick patients. One woman thrashes and screams in the corner. Some very large women look at Tabitha in concern and ask what happened (very large = the thigh of one of these women is larger than I am in girth--I am unable to describe any more of the giant people). Tabitha, now that Adam is with her, has become quite chatty and tells everyone in the room about her accident. An asthma-man from Bangladesh talks with her. They can't understand each other. This does not seem to be a deterrent to conversation.

The thrashing, screaming woman emerges from triage with a teabag in her mouth. She lurches to an occupied couch and lies down on the occupants who slide from beneath her and look for another place to sit. Adam looks at me, wide-eyed. I whisper, "I'm glad she chose their couch." He nods. 

We go to triage. Tabitha is treated to a wheelchair ride. Our admitting nurse is the mother of a couple of my former piano students. We have a lovely chat. Nurse makes Tabitha laugh when she checks the cut and deadpans, "Eeeewwww! That's gross! Blood makes me want to throw up." Adam looks concerned. I whisper that she's joking. Nurse giggles.

We return to the crowded waiting room. Adam chooses to sit by a very quiet older woman. She doesn't seem to be breathing. Pretty soon he leans over and whispers, "Mom, what's that smell." I whisper back, "Your quiet neighbor there is very, very drunk." "Ohhhh." Adam glances at her curiously. She stares straight ahead and drools.

Thrashing, screaming woman is now quiet as she lies on her commandeered couch. Her male companion, however, seems to be upset about something. He's quietly yelling at her. He threatens to check her into the mental ward of the hospital. He tells her she's misbehaving. We stare at him. She's quiet--why is he upset? In a few moments they get up and leave the hospital. Five minutes later a nurse comes looking for them. It's their turn for treatment. Nurse looks confused when we tell her they've gone, shrugs, and admits Tabitha instead.

Nurse Practitioner (NP) examines the wound. Adam says it looks like it hurts. Tabitha says it does. NP says she'll be numbing the cut, some orderlies will be cleaning it, then she'll come stitch it. Tabitha looks scared. Adam tells her not to hide in the bathroom because they can unlock it from the outside. Tabitha rolls her eyes at him and says, "Like I'd even do that! Then everything just takes longer." Adam looks embarrassed and admits she makes a very good point.

The numbing process begins. Tabitha begins to cry a little. Adam looks frustrated. I hold Tabitha's hand, tell her it's okay to cry because I know it hurts. NP says there will be four more pokes, but they'll be fast. Tabitha holds still and whimpers. When it's done, I hug her and NP calls her a trooper. Adam whispers to me, "Man! She's really tough!" Yeah, she is.

Tabitha relaxes and chats with the orderlies as they clean the cut. Adam watches in awe. NP comes back and begins to cut off damaged skin. Adam looks sick. NP explains that the skin won't heal--it's already dead--and will leave a rough scar if she doesn't take it off. Adam looks relieved. Tabitha is now talking non-stop. NP knows her entire life story before the last stitch has been knotted. Good thing Tabitha has only lived 13 years. We might have been there much longer.

Interestingly, since Tabitha declared Adam as her "best friend in the whole world," they haven't been fighting. I'm wondering how long it will last. In the meantime, Tabitha is, of course, showing her stitches to any who will look, and recounting her story to any who will listen. If you catch her online, be sure to give her the opportunity to tell you about it. At this point in time, it's probably been embellished to the point that it could entertain small audiences. Enjoy!

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