When my son was very young and we lived in Goshen Indiana, I decided to open a daycare. I wanted to be the one to raise him and not pay someone else to do it, yet at the same time I also had to make a living. Things were sometimes hectic, as they will be when you have multitudes of small children running around, but we had a regular schedule that helped to keep things flowing smoothly. Naturally, the safety of the children was my first concern, but sometimes I was the one who had to learn the lesson.
On this particular day it was a bit too chilly to let the children play outside after lunch, so they were inside having lots of fun playing a pirate game. In the midst of the game, my son launched a toy across the room with his hand because pirates apparently don’t have to follow the rules of not throwing things in the house. His father was there and we both cringed as we saw the impromptu hand-launched cannonball sail straight to the window. Sure enough, it broke one of the panes in the window as it missed its target, which happened to be some spot on the wall that represented another pirate ship.
After calming my son and reminding him this is why pirate or not, we don’t throw things in the house, I got the children busy with an activity and proceeded to clean up the glass. My son’s father assured me he could fix the window once we removed the bits of glass from it. I carefully picked the glass up off the floor while he went outside and picked it up off the porch. We then proceeded to remove the glass from the window. That’s when it happened.
You know those moments when you can see yourself doing something incredibly stupid, but you just keep doing it anyhow? That was me, staring out from the inside while all the red flags went up.
There were small shards of glass sticking out from all sides of the window. I pulled some pieces out from the top and then I started working on the sides. I was fully aware of what I was doing and even acknowledged that there were pieces of glass sticking out from the opposite side of the window as the area I was working on. Yet I still proceeded to try and pull the glass out, pulling in the direction of the other bits of glass. As I felt the glass pull free, I was stunned by my own foolish behavior, but no more so than the man on the other side of the window. Neither of us were surprised when the blood began to flow.
“Really?” he said. “You’re trying to teach the kids to be safe and you really just did that?”
I was thinking the same exact thing, but I was also mesmerized by the cut. I have never had a fear or any kind of anxiety about seeing blood. If anything, I was fascinated by what was under the blood because the cut was so deep that it did not hurt at all and I could see some white when I wiped the blood away.
“Do you think I should go get stitches?” I asked.
“Is that bone? Is that a tendon? Who is going to sit with the kids? Oh my God!” he exclaimed as realization dawned on him.
I’m not a fan of doctors or hospitals. I would much rather treat things at home if I can. On the other hand, when I can see white and I can’t actually feel it when there is blood gushing from an appendage, it’s time to consider the options. Because I was apparently on a “Let’s see how stupid I really am” roll, I insisted on running to the neighbor’s to see what she thought before I just took off and left the children with this man who, father or my son or not, was actually cringing at the thought of having to take care of the daycare for an untold amount of time.
Naturally, she looked at me as if I had lost my mind by even questioning whether or not I needed stitches. She was nice about it, but it was in the “bless your heart” kind of way which normally translates into something like “You are such an idiot that I can’t even degrade my own manners by telling you what I really think.” It is the polite manner that southern women use as a way of conveying the meaning without actually saying the words. Unfortunately, she wasn’t approved to work in the daycare, so she could not sit with the children. My son’s father had already been through his background clearance and all the details that come with living in a home where there is a state certified daycare.
One of the hardest parts of this whole ordeal was that because I had a daycare, I had to use universal precautions to clean the mess up. Basically, I ended up quarantining the area and making it off limits to the children so that I could get on my way to the hospital and still know the kids were safe. I had nothing that I could transmit to them, but the law is the law and I always felt it was a good idea to make sure they were well versed in the concept of staying away from blood anyhow. At any rate, by the time I got back to the house the blood and glass pieces were all cleaned up and disposed of in the proper manner.
I went straight to the emergency room after wrapping my hand so I didn’t get blood everywhere. The cut itself was small, maybe an inch to an inch and a half long, but it was bleeding profusely. Presumably because it was the middle of the day as opposed to the weekend, it took no time at all for me to be seen by the attending physician at Goshen Hospital.
On any other day, if I had been injured due to someone else’s negligence or some natural disaster, there would not have been a soul around who wanted to listen to my complaints. As luck would have it, there were plenty of people around to listen that day since the doctor happened to have some medical students with him. Trying to have a good bedside manner so his students could get the full brunt of his professional knowledge, he was courteous enough to ask me what exactly happened. So, there I sat, explaining how a grown woman, mother, and business owner had seemingly deliberately cut her hand to the bone by removing a piece of glass from a broken window and pulling said piece of glass directly toward the sharp edge of another piece of glass. They all looked at me as they should have, as if I was someone who had somehow lost all common sense.
When the doctor went to get his supplies, I called the house to see how everyone was doing. I was pretty sure that the children had taken over by now and I would not have been shocked had one of them answered the phone. When my son’s father answered the phone I breathed a sigh of relief. He expressed some distress and asked me to hurry since neither his shirt nor any of the burp towels had any room left on them for the next baby that might want to expel their lunch.
I hung up the phone as the doctor came in with his supplies and reminded me of the worst part of the process of getting stitches at all—the shots to numb the area.
“Is that really necessary?” I asked.
“Only if you don’t want to feel any more pain.” he said.
Since I wasn’t in any pain to begin with, I wasn’t in any hurry to induce any. I glanced at the needle with apprehension. Let me just say that I have a fear of dentists that is almost phobic and the only thing that outweighs that fear is my fear and dislike of needles.
“How about we just do it without the shots?” I asked.
Shocked, the doctor simply asked me if I was sure and then went on to remind me that the wound had to be cleaned before it was stitched and that this was a less than pleasant process. I already knew this, but I also felt like I should just be a big girl about it and take my medicine as such.
When the doctor went to clean the area he complimented me on how clean it was already. Obviously I had not scrubbed it at home, but I did own a daycare and was constantly washing my hands, so they were relatively clean to begin with. This habit saved me some agony since the cut only needed a light cleaning when it was all said and done.
I received five stitches in that small wound. By some miracle, the only thing I felt while the doctor was stitching me up was a bit of tugging. He complimented me on my ability to maintain composure, but I indicated that it really didn’t hurt. In the end, the thing that hurt worse than anything was my pride. I had done something stupid and as a result, I got hurt. I was actually very lucky because my son’s father was around that day to look after the daycare. I learned several lessons from this event. I learned to be more careful and to pay attention to what I was doing, especially when children were around and sharp objects were involved. I also learned to plan ahead because on any other day I would have been there by myself, with no one to look after the children as I went to the hospital. But I wasn’t the only one who learned a lesson.
To this day my son knows not to throw things in the house. He knows what can happen if you do and he is not in any more of a hurry to repeat this experience than I am.