Apr 2, 2008

Emergencies of the past

Imagination prompt generator has asked if I was ever rushed to the hospital and what for.

My visits to the hospital total two my entire life: One was the day I was born, the other was at about 9 months old, when my mother woke up in the middle of the night and had an impulse to go check on me. I was burning up. My parents rushed me to the hospital and they worked to bring my fever down. I stayed overnight but there was no more fever and no sign of why I even got it. Anyway, thanks, Mom!

I have been rushed to the emergency room a few times more. What kid hasn't? I've observed that we all seem to end up with scars over an eye, under the chin, on a knee. Very standard. I have all three. The tiny scar under my chin I got at age 3, when I tripped on concrete steps and landed on my chin. I don't remember this.

The other two scars I remember getting very, very well and if you are squeamish, stop reading.

I was 7 and living in Twentynine Palms, California (yes, there really is such a place) with my grandparents. This was during my parents' separation. We rented a house on the corner, and this being the desert, there were no neat sidewalks, just mounds of sand spilling onto the asphalt here and there.

My best friend at the time, Elizabeth (she didn't shorten it to Liz until much later) and I decided to race our bikes. There was a gentle slope going from my house up the street to hers, and we started a few houses past her place and peddled like mad down the slope.

We got to the L-intersection by my house and I was ahead. I hit that 90 degree left turn at full speed.

I felt my bike skid on the gravel. I slid into the mound of sand on my left side. Liz sped past me.

My first reaction was to get angry. (Still is.)

I must have been a bit stunned, too. I didn't stop to look at anything, just flung my traitorous bike aside and got up, crying, and crossed the road to our house. Blood was running over the eyelashes on my left eye, annoying me a bit.

Grandma was home. Grandpa wasn't. He'd just taken our one car to do some shopping. Grandma had heard a noise that didn't sound right, and was waiting for me in our doorway. Grandma generally faints at the idea of blood, but she didn't (to her own surprise) this time. She got me laid down on my bed. She got some towels and started wiping away the blood. I was shaking, crying, "Mama, mama!" (which I had never done before and I can remember a part of my brain thinking, "Why are you saying that? You sound like a baby.")

Elizabeth came up to the house with my bike. She didn't know what had happened. It happened so fast and she was clear down to the highway before she realized she was racing by herself. I remember Grandma asking her with a worried voice if she'd seen our car.

Luckily, Grandpa was not the sort to get distracted and go off and do something else (unlike me). He returned after 20 minutes, and they got me into the car and drove to our tiny little emergency room. I had stopped crying. I can't remember any pain. Some other kid, a boy a few years older than me, had also banged up his knee; they wheeled him past while my folks were filling out forms.

I had been wearing only a bikini (which they took off me, to my embarrassment), and I had scraped my left big toe, my left ribs, my left elbow. I had a small cut above my left eyebrow, and a huge hole in my left knee. I insisted on taking a look after it was cleaned up and the doctor finally let me; it was a grayish crater about an inch deep. I don't remember how they gave me the anesthesia; I assume with a needle along with the tetanus shot.

Dr. Gilletta was the man who cleaned up my wounds and then stitched me up - a friendly, dark-haired man somewhere in his 30's. He started sewing the cut above my left eyebrow before the anesthesia kicked in. "Ow," I said, really just to say something. "This doesn't hurt," he answered quite firmly. Since he was right, I decided to shut up from then on, which wasn't hard to do. By the time he was done stitching my eyebrow, I was asleep.

I woke up 4 hours later. Dr. Gilletta had sewn 6 stitches above my eye, and a total of 32 in my knee, leaving a sideways Y under the knee cap. The knee cap was shifted a bit and for a long time, my left leg was thinner than my right. That Y, however, looks like my knee cap's just throwing a shadow.

I was told I was very lucky. Not only did our little town have such an excellent tailor, uh, doctor, but my deep cut had avoided a major nerve by a couple of millimeters. (Grandma's concern when she first saw me was that I'd poked my eye out. I was lucky with that, too.)

I spent a month with a bandaged knee and was healed in time for school. That was lucky, too. I liked school. It took me a few years to brave riding a bike again, though (not until I was in Norway did I try again) and I do not want to brave riding on gravel roads. I hated the bike I'd twisted in the crash. It became forever labeled "traitor" in my mind, poor thing. I mean, I was actually beating Elizabeth!

I totally identify with that knee, with that Y-shaped scar. It is part of what makes me Keera.

4 comments:

Sparkling Red said...

I am squeamish, so I stopped reading where you advised. I'm reading blogs while I eat lunch, so I do thank you kindly for the warning!

Keera Ann Fox said...

Well, dang, girl, you missed the best part then: I got better. ;-)

Badaunt said...

You're right about the scars. I have a little one over one of my eyes, and no memory of how I got it. A friend had a similar one, only bigger, and she told me she'd got it by falling downstairs while sleepwalking.

That freaked me out. I used to sleepwalk, and I'd always believed the old story that you wouldn't injure yourself, so had never worried about it before. But it was a bit strange for her - she'd gone to sleep in her bed and woken up in a hospital bed. She knocked herself out completely.

Keera Ann Fox said...

I'd really worry about my sanity if I went to bed in one room and woke up, not only in a different bed, but in a different building!