Splintered: A Visit to the E.R.

Smeashy the Pelican

This just came up in my social media feed as a memory of the night I first posted it, 13 years ago today, when my son had just turned 7. For the sake of the historic record, I’m re-posting here….

It was 5:30 this evening and I was preparing to make pizza for dinner. Suddenly my little boy let out a yelp, and then a whimper. He said that something was in his foot. I pulled off his sock, expecting to see an ordinary splinter. Instead, the end of a quarter-inch thick piece of wood was sticking out of the bottom of his foot. It must have broken off from the wood floor in the living room. The thing didn’t budge when I tried to pull it out, and I realized it was really, really deep.

I called my husband Bob, who was about to leave the office to head home. Then I picked up the little guy, carried him to the car, and drove him to the emergency room. He was obviously hurting, but he stayed remarkably calm for a seven-year-old with a tree sticking out the bottom of his foot.

The doctor warned that she would have to give him a shot of painkiller in the bottom of his foot and that it would hurt a lot. But she said it would numb the foot so she could remove the splinter without hurting him any worse. She knew he wouldn’t be able to stay still for the shot, so she had him wrapped up in something they called a “papoose,” kind of a canvas coccoon with velcro, to hold him still.

By this time, Bob had arrived at the hospital and had had the presence of mind when he’d stopped at home to pick up one of “The Pets,” the elite group of stuffed animals with most-favored status. So the patient had both Mommy and Daddy there to hold his hand, as well as Smeashy The Pelican. OK, the pelican wasn’t actually holding his hand, but he was providing invaluable moral support. The shot was traumatic, but it worked so well that he hardly noticed when the doctor pulled out the splinter — if something can be called a splinter when it’s a thick stick of wood, 2-1/2 inches long. All but a quarter-inch of it had been inside his foot.

My cutie pie was understandably upset through all of this, but he managed to stay calm except for when they were giving him the shot. He didn’t like that part. But when the nurse said they would have to x-ray his foot to make sure there were no slices of splinter left inside, my little guy said, “Awesome!” He liked the x-ray machine a lot. And so did we, after the pictures showed no wood shards remained in his foot.

He’s up-to-date on all of his vaccinations, so he didn’t need a tetanus shot. But the doctor said that this type of wound has a high risk of infection, so he’s on a strong antibiotic for the next ten days, and Motrin for pain. (UPDATE: The would did not become infected, and it healed just fine.)

My little guy has had a few medical emergencies in his time, but this is his first visit to an actual hospital emergency room. I know, we’re lucky to have gone seven years without one. Let’s hope it’s another seven years before we have to do this again. The patient seemed to recover quickly, but Mommy and Daddy are still nervous wrecks.

And Smeashy the Pelican is bragging to all the other Pets, who didn’t get to go to the hospital.

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