Thanksgiving Week, 2008
It was a busy, busy day yesterday. My husband and I had been hoping this week leading up to Thanksgiving would be spent resting, enjoying time with the children, and getting a few things done around the house. But one thing led to another, chores piled up, my van acted up again, and the two of us hardly saw each other we were running around so distractedly on Monday. Tuesday should have been better. By two o’clock, the van was finally fixed after the third trip to a mechanic, the grocery shopping was finally accomplished after two and a half hours at the store, and David and the boys were happily working in the yard together as I began mixing up the Thanksgiving snacks with my daughter. That’s when my worst nightmare – my worst nightmare ever – happened.
One child hurried into the bathroom, shutting the door. The baby cried out. The child yelled,
“Oh, Baby! I’m so sorry! I’m so sorry! MOMMY! COME QUICK! THERE’S LOTS OF BLOOD!”
I walked around the corner expecting a minor pinch and saw my child’s hand clasping that of the baby, and blood dripping down both of them fast. I grabbed a napkin (why did I grab a small napkin?), collapsed on the floor clasping the precious little body to my lap, and took the tiny hand in my own, unable to even look at the wound. My daughter ran outside and screamed for Dad to come in, “It’s an emergency! Mom said so!” I held out the tiny hand to him, imploring him to look for me.
“Tell me it’s not so bad.”
I had to say it loudly over the baby’s sobs.
Without looking up at me, he replied firmly:
“Get in the car. Now. We’re going to the hospital.”
I wasn’t moving.
“Look again! If just the fingernail is off, he can go to the doctor. Maybe it’s not so bad!”
My husband looked deep into my eyes now, his own wide and fierce.
“NO! LOOK AT HIS FINGER!”
My rarely-demanding husband commanded my utmost bravery, and I looked down on the mutilated form of the once pristine digit. The left ring-finger was severed and hanging limply from the base of the nail, which had immediately turned black. I became dizzy and nauseated. The next second, my stronger half was pulling us up from the floor. I clasp that injured hand firmly, willing the cut top to reconnect by sure force of my maternal pressure. One of my children put shoes on my feet at the doorway, someone slipped my purse over my arm … I was in the sunlight, then in the back of the car, holding the sobbing baby in my lap.
The short drive to the hospital seemed way too far for both of us. My husband, so cool under pressure, was tempted to call an ambulance at the stop light, though we were just a mile away. I had every hope the facility that had saved my life and that of this same baby a year and a half ago would again make everything all right with his precious hand … if at all possible. Sweetie Pooh, who had jumped in the car somehow as we were leaving, was sobbing and praying all the way. I didn’t understand until later that he feared his brother was going to bleed to death.
Now, my more recent readers may be saying to themselves, “this is bad, by why does whatever call this her worst nightmare ever.” Truly, anyone who has met me in “real life” understands my reaction. I have been playing the piano and violin since childhood. Deeply ingrained into my training is the maxim “Don’t hurt your hands!” But it is more than that, really. Years of careful study on how to use one’s hands and fingers properly to achieve maximum potential in the music realm has given me a deep appreciation for their miraculous creation. The sensitivity of the nerve endings, the intricacies of the small motor skills, the endless possibilities of the two hands working independently … these are wondrous, exciting, irreplaceable organs, no matter what one’s life work may entail. It is no exaggeration, then, to say I would be no less stunned to have seen my son’s arm half hanging from his body as his finger tip. A hand injury is my worst nightmare ever.
So my own prayers were fervent all long mile to the hospital. My face was wet with tears as I leapt from the car, hurtled through the hospital doors, and gasped at the nurse in the ER waiting room,
“My baby’s finger tip! It’s been severed!”
When the nurse asked me to open my hand to let her see the wound, some of my baby’s finger came off onto mine.
Mercifully, everyone was so kind and compassionate to both baby and mommy. It apparently was not the worst finger severing the staff had encountered. The doctor came quickly and immediately gave the baby shots in his finger to help numb it. A nurse came soon after to give him more pain medication. A few minutes later, the X-ray team brought the mountain to Muhammad and Baby took the pictures of his hand from my lap as he continued to sob. The doctor came very soon afterwards to inform me that the bone was indeed cut off at the top, but the internal damage seemed no worse than that. He was ready to sew it up and he wanted to do so quickly. A team came to hold the still sobbing patient down, and the wound was cleaned – oh, my baby’s finger just hanging off to the side as the blood ran down!
I didn’t know I could cry so long. In 2 hours from accident to bandage, baby and I were finally empty of tears. The nail had been removed; eight stitches had reattached the top. I sighed loudly once the sewing was done. The finger was whole. I felt I could breathe for the first time.
Baby has several layers of bandage over his new boo-boo and is on antibiotics. He has strong pain medication, too, if he needs it, though he hasn’t complained since he woke up this morning. He doesn’t want anyone to touch his boo-boo, but he does touch it and hit his toys with it.
I woke up this morning exhausted, that bone-tired feeling one has the morning after a bad event. I heard the baby in his bed, and ran in to see if it were all a nightmare. There he lay, kicking his crib bars, arms outstretched – one perfect hand, one huge boo-boo. My heart broke all over again.
Last night, when I changed him out of his bloody clothes and into his jammies for bedtime, I tried to distract him from his arm. He didn’t even notice my taking his boo-boo through the arm of his sweatshirt and turtleneck shirt. But when it came time to put his jammie shirt on, he protested loudly.
He shook his head vehemently. I pushed the arm into the sleeve.
“Where’s the boo-boo?”
I said, playing our favorite dressing game.
“Oh, no! It’s all gone! Where’s the boo-boo?”
He was not amused. He somberly put his right hand, the pristine one, through the other sleeve, and then said his first sentence of his life.
“No my bye-bye hand.”
It’s not my bye-bye hand. Baby was thankful he didn’t injure his right hand. My eyes filled with tears. Praise the Lord for so many things to be grateful for in even this nightmarish accident. His tip was still attached somewhat; the bone wasn’t broken further down; the major blood vessels weren’t broken; the hospital was so close; he is young enough to expect a complete recovery; my husband was home.
Not the bye-bye hand.
Within a few weeks, Baby had all his stitches removed successfully. He never needed surgery. The bone grew back as well as the nerve endings, and he used his finger fully immediately after the bandages were removed. Seven months later, he doesn’t remember the injury at all, and strangers cannot tell which finger was shut in the door. I am so grateful to the Lord for His healing of my son and His loving care for each one of us.
Three years later, Baby is hardly a baby, yet completely recovered from his Mommy’s nightmare. He doesn’t even remember the accident, and only if I point it out to you can you see which fingertip was reattached. It is completely whole, sensitive, and capable as the other nine.