I’m learning more and more to appreciate boring. To embrace and love boring and not wish it away. When you’re a mom, boring is good. Boring means no one is hurt; no one is in trouble; no one is unaccounted for; no one is in danger.
Friday night, just when I least expected it (isn’t that when it always happens?) life went from quiet to chaotic and unnervingly fragile when my husband rushed up the stairs carrying Cade – both of them covered in blood. Cade had jumped off the diving board on our dock before letting the kid who jumped before him clear out of the way. Cade’s lip collided with the other boy’s head — and as my mom says, “In a battle between the lip and head, the head always wins.”
Fortunately the other kid was not hurt but the cut in Cade’s top lip was bad. There was no question whether or not stitches were needed. Cade’s had stitches in his lip before and I knew there was no point in going to urgent care, we needed the hospital. Cade was hysterical of course but we got dry clothes on him and hustled him into the car holding a washcloth to his face. It’s just a cut. It’s just a cut, I kept telling myself. It’s not going to be a fun process, but he will be okay. Those thoughts kept me calm and focused on getting to the hospital. I hopped in the driver’s seat and David sat in the back next to Cade. The bleeding had stopped so that also provided some relief. But the relief was short-lived.
Cade had calmed down enough to start asking questions. The same questions. Over and over and over. “What happened?” he asked. “I don’t know what happened,” he kept saying with panic rising in his voice. Panic was rising inside me too. “It’s okay Cade,” I tried to reassure him. “Daddy didn’t remember what happened when his leg got hurt playing football back in high school…did you Daddy?” David gave me a look that said, No, I DID remember. I could see the fear in his face too and in his voice when he said “Sara, don’t be afraid to speed.”
At that point my mind started going down awful paths of spinal cord injuries and brain damage and the cold saline I heard about on NPR that they use to stop the progression of nerve damage — would they have this at the small satellite hospital we were headed to? Oh God, Oh God.
I ran into the emergency room slightly ahead of David and Cade to implore them to see my son immediately. They did. The doctor told us he didn’t think there was head trauma but ordered a CT scan just to be safe. After tries in both hands, the nurses were finally able to start an IV in Cade’s arm. The orderly wheeled him to radiology as I walked behind reassuring Cade that “I’m right behind you buddy.”
The radiology techs placed Cade on the same long thin table I’ve lied down on a dozen times myself over the last three years. Never once had I thought I’d see his little body sliding through that machine. What was just a trip to the hospital for stitches had turned into something completely different. Something that shakes you to your core and makes you look life’s fragility square in the face, whether you want to or not.
A few minutes after we returned to the ER, we were told the cat scan was normal. Okay. (big exhale) Okay. It’s just stitches. It’s just stitches. This is okay. We are okay.
The ER doctor called a special surgeon in to stitch Cade’s lip. However, because of the severity of the cut, Cade would need to be put under full anesthesia to keep him completely immobile. And because he’d eaten dinner an hour or so earlier, they had to wait till the next morning to do the surgery. They’d take him to a room and he and I would spend the night in the hospital.
Fortunately there was a couch in the room and the nurse brought me linens so I could try to get some sleep. The surgeon had instructed the nurse and me to keep his lip as moist as possible with saline-soaked gauze pads and to keep ice packs on it as much as possible. I did my best to follow those instructions filling the time between watching Jerry Maguire on TBS (Geez TBS has a ton of commercials).
At 5:45 am they came and took Cade to pre-op. The anesthesiologist came in and talked with Cade and me and although he was very reassuring that everything would be just fine in the 45 minutes or so Cade would be under, a big knot was forming in my stomach anticipating the moment they would take Cade into the operating room and away from me. It was the first time either of my kids would be in an operating room. I fought back tears that were dangerously close to the surface. I could NOT let Cade see any fear or worry in me. He was fine when they wheeled him through the doors. When the doors closed my floodgates opened. I couldn’t hold back the tears anymore.
About 45 minutes later the surgeon found us (by that time David and Anna had arrived) in the waiting room and told us everything was just fine. We headed back to the hospital room to meet our little boy and just a few minutes later I saw him — one of the sweetest sights I have ever seen.
My sweet boy. Safe and sound and back with David, Anna and me. Soon we could go home and be back to normal. Back to beautiful, blissful boring.
I have a very strong urge to go rip the diving board off the dock and let it sink to the bottom of the lake never to be seen again. But David has reminded me that the same thing could have happened without the diving board with the kids simply jumping off the dock. It could have happened on a bike ride or a swing set or a football field. And I can’t even let my mind go into the realm of driver’s licenses yet.
“We will not live our lives in fear,” David tells me with an absolutely unwavering resolve. In my mind I know he is right. He is the balance to my overprotective motherly instinct to shield my babies from any potential harm. His resolve is not untested. The four of us have been through a lot. And it seems just when I start to feel comfortable, bouyed with the news of my own clear CT scan last month, the kids doing well in school, the reassurance of knowing they are both strong swimmers as this summer lake and pool season gets underway…my sense of safety suddenly diseappears in the instant of a carefree jump off a diving board.
Cade will turn 7 next week. As I was telling a friend yesterday, “He’s had stitches twice, pneumonia, and now a CT scan and surgery and he’s not even 7 yet.”
When I was younger I used to wish for an exciting life. As Lily Tomlin said, I guess I should have been more specific. Doctors, chemo, stitches, surgery and cat scans were not exactly the kind of excitement I had in mind.
Today I am thankful for boring old normal life. And if you have kids, you should be too. So the next time you sit down to dinner and have to think for a second what to be thankful for because it was just an ordinary day…be thankful for that.