August 6, 2007

Stitches Out On Time

So a quick stitches update: the kid has been doing fine. She was a bit clingy and wiggy for the first couple of days, but she was the best patient I've ever had. We developed a little ritual for changing her bandage--the doctors wanted her stitches covered and antibioticked up--in the morning and at bedtime. It came to involve a Dum Dum, the smallest, most innocuous lollipop we could think of. [After having abandoned our naive, idealistic opposition to trading good behavior for candy a while back in toilet training 2.0.]

Still, we held off several days before breaking the news that this was more than a typical Band-Aid wound. Wednesday, we explained to the kid that in fact, she had stitches, that her terrifying glimpses and sounds of scissors in the ER were not just not cutting her head as she first thought; they were cutting thread. My wife asked if she wanted to see them. She did. She gave her a hand mirror. The kid was stunned. All the next day, and on through Friday, the kid instructed us to not talk about them. During a playdate, she'd occasionally come running in to me, complaining that her friends were talking about her stitches. Again.

In the ER, one of the scariest things for the kid was not knowing what was going on, or what was going to happen. So at the risk of TMI, we decided it'd be best to explain as much as we thought she could take about getting the stitches out. Thursday after dinner, my wife sat the kid down with a dishtowel and a needle & thread, and they practiced making and cutting stitches, and she explained that this is just what the nurse would do Friday.

And damned if the kid didn't go along with it the entire way. We were at her pediatrician's office, so a familiar setting helped, but she didn't complain, didn't flinch, and didn't cry the entire time. Lying on the table, you could just see the fear washing across her face, but she managed it, and then chatted away with the nurse and us when it was over. She's one freaky-strong kid. At least when there's a Dum-Dum hanging in the balance.

From the doctors', we went to buy her some new hats; she was told to keep her cut covered for six months to minimize discoloration. All I can say is, there are some seriously fugly kid's hats out there, when they're there at all.

4 Comments

I think it's wonderful that you guys were so up-front with her about the details of what was happening and why. My mother was an RN, and she always explained exactly (often TMI) what the doctor was going to do. I loved that as a kid, because it helped things make sense. Going to the doctor was far less scary than it would have been had I just been told to hold still and not scream. Once when I was about 7, I had to get a cavity drilled and I was terrified. My mother explained that they would give me a shot to make my mouth numb first. I was no fan of shots, but I knew a shot was better than a drill any day. I remember going into the office and asking the technician "You're going to give me the shot right?" The tech became angry at my mother because they didn't like kids to know that a shot was coming (they even went so far as to hold a card up between the syringe and my chin so that I wouldn't see it...). I freaked out until assured that yes, I would be getting the shot.

I second that...I always tell my kids as much truth as possible, even if it makes my husband's eyes bug out occasionally (honey--what are you thinking?!) If you're calm and just tell the truth, kids can handle a lot more than you might think. Candy helps too.

Great story! Inspirational AND instructive. Luckily we haven't had to experience trauma from stitches - or bad accidents. The bad stuff will happen though, huh?

Your wife's one-step ahead of the unfavorable consequences and she tackles this issue with graceful common sense.

Having said that, I got teary-eyed (is that gay?) thinking about your brave girl in the ER.


Your wife had a fabulous idea. I must remind parents of my "screamers" to practice before they come back to get their sutures out.
Thanks.

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