June 19, 2005

All She Wants For Christmas ...

{Before I begin, I'd like to wish a most happy and loving Father's Day to all you great dads out there!}

I’m not sure which was worse for me ~ the phone call from hell telling me to get to the emergency room as quickly as possible because my daughter had an accident at the swimming pool, or racing through the double glass doors at the hospital and finding her sitting in triage with a bloody cup holding her two front teeth. No, the phone call was the worst part … the not knowing. Finding her in the chair was actually like being reborn (just realizing that she was breathing and coherent).

This particular life-trial happened nearly six years ago, but as I sit and recall it through written words, it might as well have been yesterday.

It was the first day of summer vacation from school. Sarah Jane had been invited to a friend’s house for a pool party with four other girls. This “friend” wasn’t one of the usual girls she’d spent much time with during the school year, but what mom can say “no” to such an invite on the first day of summer vacation? So I dropped her off, kissed her goodbye and said that pathetically stupid line that we parents all say to our young ones, “Be careful.”

I was happy to go home and work on sorting out a personal website I had been developing at the time. Peace and quiet … at last … no one to interrupt me for lunch and no one to tell me how bored they are with television and the hundred and fifty seven games and videos they had in the next room.

SJ was just twelve back then and that’s the age when I’d overhear her talking on the phone one moment about all the cute boys in her class and find her the next moment on her bedroom floor adjusting Barbie’s clothes. Complete confusion at twelve is quite normal; I remember it well.

About two hours into the afternoon, the phone rang and the trauma began.

I was told, by this new friend’s mother, to get to the emergency room as quickly as possible because there had been an accident. She said there was really no time to explain, but that SJ was involved and she needed immediate care. As my shaking hand held the phone to my ear, I could hear loud noises and many voices in the background, none of which sounded at all like SJ’s. “Ten minutes,” I said, as I hung up and grabbed my car keys. I didn’t care that the door was left unlocked and truthfully couldn’t have cared less if I was even presentable. A flood of nightmarish visions crowded my brain as I swerved through country roads, the gas pedal nailed to the floor the entire time. I half-ass parked the car and raced inside the emergency room, unsure what I would find. None of this was too good for one who had had a heart attack three months earlier.

I waded through people with belly aches to find the triage office, and was thrilled to see my daughter’s little head as she sat in a chair holding a bloody towel to her mouth. I realize how that sentence would sound in any other context, but “thrilled” in this case is an understatement. Trust me on that.

SJ and the girls had been taking turns playing “gymnast” and climbing on the side rail of the above ground pool – positioning themselves to do summersaults into the water. It was all good, girly, pool fun. Sarah Jane, however, lost her footing and slid on some water on the rail, tumbling backward ~ directly into the cellar bulkhead (doors open) and down the stairs.

It was roughly a seven foot drop. She came down onto a cement step, slamming the back of her head and forcing her two top front teeth clear from their foundation, through her chin just below the lower lip. Hard to imagine ~ but true.

The entire ordeal only took seconds. Blood covered everything within her peripheral vision, but she immediately spotted what looked like two small white pebbles on the ground in front of her. She doesn’t remember what made her hand move out to snatch them up. They were her teeth and the moment she realized this – she went into a state of near-shock.

Luckily, the friend’s dad had worked as an EMT for some time and knew enough to place the teeth into a cup of milk to preserve any life that was left in them. They were rushing her off to the hospital within minutes; only stopping to call me first.

After the immediate “high” of seeing my daughter alive, the “eww” mode kicked in and it was all I could do to maintain any sort of calm in her presence so that my facial expressions wouldn’t scare the crap out of her. I didn’t fare too well in this area, but I was there for her. That was something … or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

It seemed like forever until the maxillofacial doctor arrived to the hospital (it was a Saturday, but of course). Until he got there, they wouldn’t even give her anything for pain. Nothing. This tore me up inside, but I knew better than to stand and beg the ER folks for meds. It simply doesn’t do you any damned good.

They managed to replace the teeth into their respective cavities (as in “holes”), but whether or not they would remain there would be a mystery for many years to come. They had an important job to do … to reattach themselves to the root and grow new tissue around them. It was iffy at best.

The gash on her upper chin where the teeth had exited was ghastly; through and through, yet jagged. That was remedied quickly enough with several stitches ~ and there was talk about plastic surgery down the road, though this was the least of our concerns at the time.

All is so-so by now. I say this because she is still undergoing several dental procedures to try to make it permanently right, but she’ll always have a sensitivity there. The teeth did their job, and perhaps had they been replaced with more care (time was of the essence) they wouldn’t protrude quite as much as they do, and they wouldn’t be visibly lower than the rest of the teeth. This can all be cosmetically fixed, if and when we ever muster the money to do so. It’ll come with time.

SJ has grown accustomed to her new look. I’ve asked her several times over the years if she’d like to have the scar repaired, and her reply has always been pretty much the same, “Nah, it’s a part of who I am now mom, it gives me a story to tell.”

I can think of nicer stories to tell, though I fully understand her logic. Look at me! I’m telling the story here and it didn’t even happen to me.

So I guess lessons were learned that day.
Firstly, neither SJ nor I had any idea that teeth could be pushed through a chin. A lip? Sure … but a chin?

Secondly, wiring teeth into the upper jaw for an entire summer doesn’t stop a twelve year old from talking incessantly.

And lastly, it’s not such a bad thing at all to be interrupted by someone asking you to fix lunch. Not a bad thing at all.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
SJ heading to her prom last June


Blogger blue2go said...

Wow, SJ is a beauty! But euuww on the teeth! I bet you were hugely relieved that no bones were broken or she wasn't in a coma or anything but the teeth and the gash must have been gross. But it sounds like the teeth "took" OK and rooted themselves back into her mouth. They are so casual about pain in the ER. My son was there for stitches for his leg and it was awful, I won't go into detail but I'm sure he remembers every bit clearly!

10:27 AM  
Anonymous colleen said...

Shivers...and such a happy ending seeing her picture (gorgeous). My eldest was hit by a car when he was 3. He's ok but has a scar on the back of his head where hair doesn't grow. One of the worst days of our lives...I haven't thought about in some time. But I'm glad to remember because I'm reviewing my life right now...working on my 100 things.

11:16 AM  
Blogger CarpeDM said...

Oh my God. That is awful. Why do kids do stuff like this? I still have a scar on the inside of my lip from the time I decided that I was a fish and put the fish hook in my mouth. I should really call my mom and tell her (again) how sorry I am about that incident.

She is quite beautiful and I love her answer about fixing the scar - it's who she is. Sounds like you raised a brilliant daughter.

You are a wonderful writer and bring things to life for me, which in this case, is not such a good thing. I'm a little queasy now.

11:28 AM  
Blogger Rob Seifert said...

Thank you for the warm wishes on father's day. I hate the powerless feeling that comes when one of my children is hurt. The miraculous thing, albeit not terribly comforting, is that all of us made it to adulthood. I, for example, fell out of a tree and snagged my lip on a tree branch turning it inside out. Your story reminded me of all of the times I've rushed my own kids to the hospital and been blessed with speedy recoveries.


1:18 PM  
Blogger happyandblue2 said...

I just hate seeing kids get hurt even if it's not as serious as this.
Your daughter looks really cute in the picture..

1:39 PM  
Anonymous Christine said...

Jeez, what a story. You know, it's really amazing that any of us make it through childhood alive. Heh. Or parenthood. There are SO many things that can go wrong. You were lucky. SHE was lucky. And as the other commenters have already said, she's beautiful!

1:53 PM  
Blogger Johnny Utah said...

Nice Blog :d..

2:16 PM  
Blogger frustratedwriter said...

When our kids hurt the pain shoots right to our soul, doesn't it? I can look at my own blood gushing from a wound and not be affected, but show me one of my children with just a scratch and I get anxious and shaky. Could always perform the first aid, just felt like I wasn't in control of the situation. Great post Carol, always enjoy your stories! Oh, your daughter sounds as if she is quite the survivor, like her mom.

2:41 PM  
Anonymous John said...

Oh the highs and lows of parenting aye? The sleep loss and money woes.

So glad your daughter is ok, Have a great weekend!

4:56 PM  
Blogger kenju said...

She's a beautiful girl, scar or no scar! My granddaughter, age 9 now, lost her two front upper teeth last summer in a trampoline accident. My daughter grabbed a half-full glass of milk off the dinner table, threw the teeth in it and dashed off to the hospital. She has had to have 2 root canals, and they are still not so sure she will have the teeth forever. The saddest thing is that the girl had only just got the teeth in place about a month before she knocked them out.

8:21 PM  
Blogger Denny Shane said...

OMG... I sat on the edge of my chair reading! The friends mom *could have * told you, she wasn't dying at least...

But geez look at her now. She's drop dead gorgeous!!! I hope the guy going with her knows how lucky he is... :)

7:52 AM  
Blogger Denny Shane said...

... sorry, I meant the guy *that* went with her :)

7:54 AM  
Blogger Rainypete said...

Phone calls liek that are gut wrenching. My wife left em a distraught message saying that she had to rush her Dad to the hospital. She didn't tell me which of teh 4 it was so i had to run all over like an idiot until I thought to actually phone in and ask if he was there (After checking 2 already). Turns out it was only for testing that the doc couldn't do. The terror the mind can whip up while preparing for the worst is bottomless.

The event certainly didn't hurt ehr looks at all, and good for her on the scar. I'd eb wearing it like a badge of honor too.

8:53 AM  
Blogger Hick said...

Wow! This brings back memories of receiving a phone call that my oldest son had been in a car accident and he was being Life-flighted to a hospital that specialized in spinal injuries. I thought I would die while I waited. Luckily he was okay, but that was a terrible time.

Unfortunately I have been to the emergency room several other times with one thing or another...always with my boys. The girl child remains emergency-room free.

10:40 AM  
Blogger Grant said...

Thanks for sharing. I'm having a root canal done tomorrow, so your tooth terror tale is perfectly timed. In return, I will try to avoid saying anything which may give you another heart att...OMFG GIANT ATOMIC CHICKENS! :p
Now, go make me a sandwich or I'll injure myself. Or is that for family members only?

11:01 AM  
Blogger Lyvvie said...

What a thing to live through as a Mom!

Ugh. And I agree, the Friend's Mom should've told you she was alive and all that, a little more info would've kept you from getting a possible ticket on top of everything.

I knocked my front teeth out diving into the shallow end of a swimming pool when I was 9. My Mom thought everyone should have ice cream sundaes from Dairy Queen that night. except me of course. I couldn't get new teeth for another three days.

I never will forgive her for that.

SJ turned out lovely, and with a super attitude ta boot.

12:26 PM  
Blogger katie said...

Yikes, I guess it is a testiment to your writing skills that the story made me queasy! Now my chin hurts!

Your daughter is quite pretty.

12:41 PM  
Blogger Sask 1 said...

My stomach was churning with that story.I had mine knocked out when i was 10 in a school accident.
SJ looks so beautiful now.You must be so proud of her carol.

12:50 PM  
Blogger annush said...

your daughter is gorgeous...
i loved reading that. You must be a great mom :)

1:14 PM  
Blogger Dave Morris said...

BEATIFUL girl and all's well that ends well. Yet even reading your words gave me a knot in my stomach. I've lived through those days with my daughter and it ain't good. She's had a kidney removed, had a multiple-fractured arm... jeez, our kids make us old.

2:39 PM  
Blogger Becky said...

SJ is a beautiful girl. Her response to you in asking if she'd like to have the scar fixed says so much about how you've raised her. There was a lot of wisdom in that statement. I know you are so very proud of her.

2:52 PM  
Blogger Walker said...

SJ is very beautiful. That was a scary story for any parent to live through. Its frustrating knowing that something may happen when you let then out of your sight but we have to let them go.

4:07 PM  
Blogger "AG" said...

She's a natural beauty.

7:35 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Carol, SJ is gorgeous!

3:20 AM  
Blogger Lightning Bug's Butt said...

A fine Hagism. And SJ is indeed a beauty.

5:10 AM  
Blogger anumita said...

What an accident to have at 12! But I guess that's the age kids fall about the most. Yesterday, my friend's 12 year old slipped off a second floor board in the pool and instead of hitting the water hit the hard floor. He cracked a rib and is in hospital.
But Sarah Jane is gorgeous! She must have quite a following...

7:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://vanessalea.tripod.com/blog/ V;
I have four kids and the various heart stopping antics have made me gray...thanks God for Loreal

10:40 AM  
Blogger Green-Eyed Lady(GEL) said...

Chills ran through me as I read your tale, even with the email foreshadowing...Those traumatic times stay with you. ER trips...yes, BTDT too many times.....

Lovely pic of her at her prom. Ironic: I posted the *back* of my daughter who just attended her prom last wk, along with a post for today, that I cut and pasted b/c I have no time. Hugs to you and your daughter.

12:10 PM  
Blogger MYSTIC said...

I hate it when people try to top your story...so I won't. I did alter SJ a wee bit and put it on my blog. Just like your fishing pic. Remember...THE BEST LAID PLANS OF MICE AND MEN. Thank you for your Father's Day greeting.
Big Rock Tournament was won by ....GiGi Wagner! What a gal!

6:48 PM  
Blogger brooksba said...

It is an ewwww story but SJ is lovely. I'm glad to hear the happy ending to the story and that you were able to find her safe at the hospital.

10:41 PM  
Anonymous colleenR said...

Thanks for your comments on my site recently. It means a lot. I try to get to my blog friends at least once a week to check and and read the week's menu. Blogging is more than a hobby and it does take up a lot of time. Mine's only 4 months old and I'm hoping it will become second nature someday soon...meaning it won't take up so much time. Is that possible?

9:41 AM  
Blogger Bekah said...

Wow. What an ordeal. Go her for being awesome about the scar and wanting to tell the story. I can't imagine how scary it must've been, for you and for her.

You're such a fabulous writer, my comments to anything you've written just pale in comparison... I almost don't feel worthy of commenting!

12:56 PM  
Anonymous J said...

I love to hear the stories behind scars.

My brother had a similarly ghastly accident with teeth when he was little. He fell down in a kiddie pool and came back up (screaming) with no front teeth. But we couldn't find them anywhere. X-rays finally located them... they'd been knocked completely back up into his jaw. They eventually came back out. He's the only person I've heard of this happening to! He was very accident-prone when he was young.

10:40 PM  
Blogger Anonymous Midwest Girl said...

Scary story! I agree, it's not knowing what happened that's the worst part - anticipating getting there and finding them unconscious or worse. I'm glad it turned out okay!!!

5:49 PM  
Blogger L said...

eeew! I'm glad she's lovely now, though :)

10:57 PM  
Blogger mrhaney said...

hello carol. i bet you was scared to death. i got one of those calls when i was at work. my two daughters were in an accident only 100 yards from our house. i got a call from the emergency room. i rushed there in my old truck and i was scared all the way there. they were not hurt to bad though.

9:57 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Good heavens, I can just imagine how your heart just about fell through the floor after getting that phone call! What a relief to find she was upright and coherent like you said.

Losing those teeth, and having them reinstated, and the rest of the dental drama that's gone along with it, certainly hasn't made any difference to your daughter being a beauty. She sure is gorgeous, and what a fabulous attitude she has!

11:31 PM  

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