There are some sounds I've learned to tune out in the last almost-nine years, but the shattering of glass will get my attention every time.
It was almost bedtime, and Tucker was heating his rice pack that helps his stomach settle at the end of the day. When he pulled it out of the microwave, it stuck to some EasyMac that had spilled during the dinner hour. The glass plate in the microwave - the one that is thicker and stronger and designed to withstand just about anything - came out with the rice pack, crashed to the floor, shattered into wicked pieces and shards of every size, and one such piece cut deeply into Tucker's shin and also his big toe.
I was already running to him before the glass could settle on the floor, and he was running to me, shouting, "I've got blood! I've got blood!" We met in the stairwell, and that's where we stayed until the paramedics arrived.
You guys, I'm pretty choosy about calling 9-1-1. It's not my favorite thing to do, and I will explore any other avenue before I have to call in the big guns.
But when you're holding your son's leg together, applying pressure and catching blood on your arms and pajamas, it might be time to call for reinforcements. I knew I couldn't get him anywhere until the bleeding stopped, and I knew I couldn't stop the bleeding. I kept one hand on each bleeding wound, and I kept eye contact with my son.
I surprised myself with my own calm voice, my knowledge of what to do, and my courage that owned the room and took charge of the situation. It's amazing what you can do when you have to.
Tyler, one of the epic heroes of the story, called my parents - "Grandma! Come fast! Right now! Tucker is bleeding and it's so bad and just come right now!" "Poppa! Come! Come quick! Oh, you're with Grandma? Then bring her!" - and he dialed 9-1-1 and held the speaker phone next to my face so I could talk to the dispatcher.
Within minutes, my home was filled with firemen and paramedics. (I seriously am pretty sure 'handsome' is in the job description.) I stayed on the stairwell, holding Tucker's leg together, until the Handsome Men replaced my hands and towels with their own.
With Tucker bound together, we chose not to ride in the ambulance to the hospital. As one handsome man told me, "Ma'am, we can take him, but we can't use lights and sirens so you won't get there any faster. And we won't treat the wound, so really all we would do is send you a bill in a few days."
I appreciate your honesty. And your chestnut eyes.
They carried Tuck to the backseat of the car, and we waved them on their way to save other people's emergencies. Just before I got in the car with my dad, Tyler came running out of the house, crying my name. His adrenaline had just run out, he realized what was happening, and he wasn't leaving my side or his brother.
So we made it a family affair.
Tyler climbed into the backseat with me, my mom followed in her car, and all five of us were off to the hospital at record speed.
One of the good things (maybe the only good thing) about these perpetual trips to the ER is that I have learned how to advocate like nobody's business.
"This is my son, these are his daily medications, these are his allergies, and he is tolerant - or resistant, if you'd rather - to lidocaine. It doesn't work. Everything in the -caine family does not work on my son, and this is not the day when we will experiment with other drugs to see what works. He will need to be asleep when you fix him, please."
They look at me with listening eyes that question how this can possibly be true.
"Tell me more about this. What experiences do you have with lidocaine? Are you sure it doesn't work?"
And scenes flash before my eyes of my son in excruciating pain while a nurse suggests he's just nervous. Or a doctor suggesting we just do the stitches and get it over with since there didn't seem to be anything more they could give him for the pain. Or finally the maxillofacial specialist who taught me there are times when a kid just needs to sleep through the whole thing.
So I repeated the above, as often as needed. I was a formiddable force of maternal adrenaline, and I would settle for nothing less than conscious sedation.
Seriously. Warrior Momma.
There was much discussion over whether he could be treated at this Children's Hospital or if he would need to be transferred to the main campus. In the end, we settled in to their procedure room, a dollhouse version of an Operating Room, and Tucker's mind floated away into a blissful place he will never remember.
The doctor said to me, "I need you to please be seated, because this is usually when parents pass out." And that's my cue.
I stopped at the family nutrition center and stole a popsicle for Tyler, and I joined the waiting room with my mom and my little guy.
My dad stayed next to Tucker for the whole procedure, and he confirmed that I made the right decision to slip on out the door. The medication would not keep Tucker from feeling the pain, but he wouldn't remember it later, which is actually the worst part of pain.
That means he could feel it. My sweet boy.
His concious, sedated self groaned and cried as they stitched him together. He started talking to them about 'having three ears,' so they gave him further meds to put him further under.
Sidenote: I just told Tucker about his nonsense talking about having three ears, and he said, "No, I wasn't saying I have three ears. The doctor did. I could see three ears down the side of his face, two on his cheek and one on his chin."
"So you were awake?"
"Yeah, I was awake. I remember that very clearly."
He was awake and he remembers.
I can't really let my mind go down that path right now. Back to the story.
He "resisted" every stitch they put in, so instead of doing twenty small stitches, they gave him six big ones in his leg and a few more in his toe. Wounded legs and toes don't need the kind of cosmetic attention that a face does, and we all know chicks dig scars.
So they sewed the wound closed enough, and they told me to expect scarring and "seepage."
(Add that to the list of words I won't be saying.)
We all came back home by about 1:00 am, and I settled my crew on the couch for a family slumber party while my parents took care of the crime scene in the kitchen.
There aren't enough words in the world to describe how thankful I am for them. There just aren't. Before she left, my mom kissed my cheek. She said, "That boy of yours has put you through more than you and your brother ever did together. And he's not even nine years old."
She suggests I keep a journal to log of all of his scars, injuries, stitches, and head wounds. The only reason I haven't started one is because I'm already so far behind that it overwhelms me to try to remember it all.
In the meantime, I'm joining Aflac this week. They pay cash every time you go to the ER, and I'm figuring that could be some supplemental, part-time income for the next ten years.
The saddest of the sad is that Tucker will be out of the first few games of his football season that starts this Saturday. This may not sound like a travesty, but I assure you: my son waits all year long for these ten weeks.
The good news is that he has doctor's approval to go to the Bronco's game tomorrow, which is one of his life's greatest hopes and manages to partly assuage the heartbreak of his own football season.
And the moral of the story is: when EasyMac spills in your microwave, clean it up.