Tom and I are not people who parent by fear or in fear.
Or we haven't, but I could really see myself going that way now.
A little background: This afternoon we were expecting to host an end-of-the-season dinner for Tom's softball teammates. In preparation, I've been working on finishing up the kitchen cabinets and staining our new dining table (that we've had still in the box nearly five months). Tom, the organizer extraordinaire, was handling the living and front rooms, including shampooing the carpets last night.
When we finally crashed last night, the table was done, except for the clear coats (which I planned to do today), the carpet was drying and two cabinet doors needed their final coats of Dried Violet (check out the almost black color about 3/4 down the page) and to be hung.
Even though I was a filthy mess, with way too many streaks and drips of Cabernet gel stain on my arms, legs and hands, a shower was out of the question. I was exhausted. So I removed the dirty clothes and put on a long-sleeved shirt and pants to sleep in.
Because I had more work to do on the table, I put my stain-riddled clothes back on this morning. As I did, I pondered how it looked like I'd been sprayed with blood. But what else could I do? I don't own that many clothes to begin with, so staining in something else was out of the question.
As Tom and I were replacing the furniture in the living room, he decided that the large floor pillows we have also needed some freshening up. So he set up the wet vac and got to work. Somewhere in there, some water was left on the floor.
Mad woke up rarin' to go... like she always does. As she was following us around, she ran through that little bit... that tiny little bit of water.
Slipped. Fell. Cracked her head on the kitchen floor. Made a sound, but didn't really cry while I picked her up. Put her head on my shoulder. Threw her head back.
I thought she was playing.
Her eyes were rolling back in her head, her mouth was puckered and I couldn't get her to respond. Somewhere in my brain I recalled that part of the movie, Airplane!, when the young girl's IV is knocked out and she loses consciousness. As Tom called 911 (thank you to whomever set that up, by the way), I worked frantically to get a response. Madelyn started turning pale and then blue.
She started coming to a little, but wouldn't make eye contact and her cry was strange. I recently read or saw something about brain injuries and how the lack of eye contact can be a symptom.
I put her on the floor, on her back and started tapping her foot, bicycling her legs and calling her name.
Finally, she came back to me.
It didn't last. As we waited for the emergency service (and thank you to the person who thought of that, too!), her eyes were rolling again. She turned blue again. I was hitting the bottom of her foot as hard as I could while holding her and getting nothing. I went straight to the floor with her this time, but it took just as long to get her to come around the second time as the first (in reality, probably about 90 seconds each time... so, you know... 10 years).
The fire department got there first, followed right away by the AMR people. They were thorough, mostly didn't assume they knew Madelyn or how she behaved (one guy from the fire truck did suggest that the second time we couldn't get a response might have been because Mad wore herself out from crying... uh, NO, she turned blue and her eyes were rolling back again).
They gave us the paradoxical choice of having them take her in to be checked out, or not... and based on their assessment, she didn't need to be checked out, but if we didn't let them take her, then we had to sign something saying we would take her in to be looked at.
I'm a pretty competent parent. And Tom goes into uber-collected mode in an emergency. We've taken infant/child CPR and first aid classes twice. But I did NOT want to be left alone with my daughter this morning. Maybe if nothing happened after the first time, okay, but not when she lost consciousness twice in less than 10 minutes.
So they strapped Mad's carseat onto the gurney and I rode along next to her. She was fine the whole way. I was mostly fine the whole way.
Here she is upon arrival (no, I wouldn't normally take pictures in this situation, but I sent it to Tom and Corey so they could see she was calm... they were stuck in the lobby for a while):
Since I started thanking people, here's a continuation of that list (most of whom I have already thanked in person):
*Tom, for remaining so calm... and, odd though it may sound, for being the one who left the water... Corey would never recover if he'd had any hand in this, no matter how innocently it occurred and even though she seems to be okay;
*Corey, for staying cool in front of Mad, even though his voice was shaky as he kissed her good-bye and said, "I love you," before we boarded the ambulance;
*The firefighters, just for being there;
*The AMR guys, for the jokes ("First time in an ambulance? Yeah? Mine, too. Paul [the driver] loves that joke. Never gets tired of hearing it.") and for taking down all of Mad's info and passing it along.
*The nurses and doctor at Victor Valley Hospital, who didn't ask us anything; they knew the whole story before we arrived. They came into our little curtained off area and said, "Hi Madelyn!" and got down to business. When it was all over, the paperwork took about three minutes.
*And lastly, my mom... because she was the one person I broke down a little to while retelling the story (well, besides you... but you can't see or hear me so it's not quite the same).
As we drove home, Tom and I debated briefly whether or not to go ahead with our plans for tonight. Since Mad was given a clean bill of health, we kept to our plans. As I put her down this afternoon, I told her what I always do, "I love you so much and so much," but then I added, "You can sleep as long or as short as you need, but just please wake up when you're done." During her typical three-hour nap this afternoon, we must have checked on her at least 10 times.
This afternoon, Mad ran around her home like she always has. I wanted to run along beside her, ready to grab her as soon as she seemed ready to fall. I did not.
Why yes, I do have a nasty headache. Okay, it could be all the ash and smoke in the air, but I'll bet that's not all.
Tonight we will be checking on her way more than she'd like (Mad's an excellent sleeper)... but probably not enough to satisfy my heart that she is truly okay.
Here's the deal: My secret fear with Madelyn is that I won't always get to keep her... that she won't be with me forever. I attribute it to the fact that I have wondered how long I will be alive during her life. However long that is, it will be 15 years less than Corey gets. So I figure I'm mentally switching those fears around or something. Whatever it is, today is as close to realizing that fear as I never wanted to come.
So my new goal is to not let this change the freedom I give to my daughter. And to not have a heart attack while letting her be free.
We know now where the closest hospital is located (something I'd just looked up on Friday, but hadn't exactly figured out). Or, at least Tom does. I know it's on a hill overlooking Corey's high school.
On the way there, I truly regretted my decision not to shower last night... or to brush my teeth before coming downstairs.
More than one person today asked me why I was such a mess. Well, that's not how they said it. Here's the conversation I had with the ER doctor:
"So she slipped and fell?"
"Yes, on the kitchen floor... there was some water from the carpet shampooer."
"So... where'd all the blood come from?"
"Oh, that's just an unfortunate coincidence. It's not blood. I've been staining a table."
Mad had a pretty thorough exam, including Xrays. After one of them, the tech came over and started feeling around her head, muttering something about "the artifact." Turns out there was a staple under the cushion she was laying on during the Xrays. Apparently it looked like she had a staple lodged in her skull. Happily, she does not.
Start to finish, the whole excursion took just over two hours and she was given a clean bill of health. Not bad for a Sunday morning trip to a completely booked ER.