Wednesday, 20 February 2013

On a little bit of mummy-guilt

Last November, we were getting in the car to come home from our Thursday morning toddler group when I shut Isaac's hand in the car door.  There was a split second of silence and stillness as we both realised what I'd just done before I wrenched it open again and he began to wail.  He'd put his hand between the front and rear doors as I was putting Anna in her seat and as I'd slammed the rear door shut, it had trapped his fingers in the small gap.

I've never heard him cry so much or so long.  We sat for a second on the pavement beside the car, just having a cuddle.  But his hand was dirty, the wound was bleeding and starting to swell and I couldn't see how badly he was injured.  I ended up popping him into his seat and driving the 200m down the road to go back into toddler group.  I left Anna in the car (she's so amiable!) and dashed in to wash his hand up with cool, clean water.  He was still crying at this point.
He'd cut one finger quite badly and the two around it were also swollen and bruised.  I couldn't make a decision about how bad it was or whether he'd broken anything.  I just couldn't do it.  I worried that I was over-reacting but we had a 40 minute drive ahead of us before I could give him any pain relief and the children's A&E department was a 2 minute walk away.  But on the other hand, he was moving his fingers, albeit reluctantly.  I chatted it over with another parent (who happens to be a GP) and decided it was better to get it checked out now than get all the way home and have to come back again.

So I bundled them both into the buggy and walked down to the hospital.  The receptionist took our details and asked how it had happened.  When I explained, she smiled sympathetically and asked if I was ok.  We were called into see the triage nurse almost immediately.  She gave Isaac a good dose of paracetamol and ibuprofen and had a quick look at his hand.  Then we went back into the waiting room to wait for the doctor.  It was obviously a busy day, with lots of families coming into the department while we were there and frequent calls over the tannoy for people to go here or there.  There wasn't much movement out of the waiting area though, most people came in and were just sitting waiting to be called.  Over the time that we were there, Isaac perked up a bit and started using his hand more and more.  He also found a little playmate to build towers with.  By the end, he was playing almost normally and only seemed to remember his hand was hurt from time to time.
We waited a couple of hours in total; it was a drag to be there after toddler group, when we should have been at home eating lunch and napping.  There were plenty of toys for the children to play with and clean, accessible toilets with baby-changing facilities.  The only real problem was that I hadn't brought much food - I had a couple of oaty bars that the children shared.  When they started getting twitchy, I went to the reception desk to ask if I had time to get some food from the cafe before we saw the doctor.  A nurse overheard me asking and went to check their computer system to see how long we had to wait.  She said that we were next in the queue and apologised for the delay.  Shortly afterwards, a doctor came out and called three children at once.  We went into the examination area and she popped Isaac up on a trolley to examine him.  She was friendly and kind and quickly told us that he was fine, he hadn't broken anything and to leave the cut uncovered.  Truth be told, I felt like a bit of an idiot by then - it was the pain relief that made the big difference.  And time for the swelling to subside.
I had an appointment for Anna's one year check-up with our health visitor that afternoon.  I had to ring her from A&E to move it back a bit.  Thankfully, she's great and completely understood when the children turned up with chicken nugget Happy Meals.  So it was a busy old day!  Isaac thought the whole experience was great fun, after his hand started to feel better, obviously!  He had regular paracetamol for a couple of days and it's healed nicely.  Of course for the next month, he told anyone who'd listen that he had a poorly hand and that Mummy did it!

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