Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Today's Trauma

Today's injury: smashed fingers.

Tyler and Tucker were playing some version of Hide-and-Seek combined with Peek-a-Boo, on either side of the closet door in Tyler's room. Suddenly, someone slammed the door shut in a fit of victory, and Tucker's chubby little fingers were in the way.

Poor little guy. His finger swelled up immediately, turning multiple shades of purple. He cried and cried. For a long time. None of my best tricks worked as consolation, and even Mickey Mouse, Bob the Tomato, and Larry the Cucumber couldn't distract him from the throbbing pain. We even tried a little Band-Aid therapy on the surrounding fingers.

(Sidenote: Band-Aid therapy goes a long, long way. At $0.97 for fifty of them, it's cheaper than any other therapy in town. I used to demand blood to negotiate a Band-Aid, but then I realized that it's easier to just hand over the Band-Aid. It may occur to him that he can produce blood, if that is the going currency for a Band-Aid. It's just easier to fork over the goods.)

I called the doctor to confirm the dosage of Motrin for a growing toddler, since ibuprofen is known for its miracle working capabilities.

When I spoke with the nurse, she put me on hold to find the answer. I pictured her consulting the Gigantic Book of All Things Toddler, and I waited for her to come back on the line with a grand total of teaspoons to load him up. Instead, she came back to say, "The doctor would like for you to bring him in. He said that so often smashed fingers turn into broken fingers, and he wants to take a look."

Which doctor? I wanted to ask. But I knew. Because I've been around this beloved practice long enough... I know how each doctor thinks.

Dr. H is the 'granola' of the group. He is whole foods, organic, breastfeed your child until he is five. Offer him a side of breastmilk with his Happy Meal. He takes traumas in stride, he never over reacts, and he calms worrying mothers on a daily basis. If Dr H had been the one to take the call, he would have said, "Oh, he's probably fine. Give him some Motrin, keep an eye on that finger, and if it falls off, give me a call."

Dr. M is quite the opposite: he is the alarmist. Bumps, scrapes, and rashes deserve the five alarm, and he brings us in for them all. His approach is thorough, and he validates worrying mothers on a daily basis. When in doubt, bring in the patient.

(There are many other doctors and nurses who fall between these two extremes, including one physician's assistant who is pretty sure that too many things are the result of an ear infection.)

While Dr. H only worries if appendages fall off, Dr. M presumes that we may need to amputate. I appreciate both approaches, since I have needed each end of the spectrum, depending on the ailment. And it is a unique practice which offers doctors who completely disagree with one another without dishonoring the other's credibility.

But today, I was fairly certain nothing was broken. My brother suffered a smashed finger of crushing proportions when we were kids, and Tucker's finger was nothing like Rob's. My brother's was smashed flat, but it revived in a matter of time. No X-rays, no splints, not even a Band-Aid.

I suspected that Tuck was fine... still, what if I was wrong? Who wants to be the mother who ignored the doctor's advice, and now her son's growing fingers are forever misshapen because she took matters into her own hands? Well, not me.

So, I deposited Tyler with the neighbor, and off we went.

As we arrived at the doctor's office, Tuck went straight to playing with toys. He wasn't crying anymore, but he also wasn't using his smashed hand. A little tender, to be expected. A nurse came out to chat with us, and also to extend sympathy and hear the growing saga. She said, "Oh, he'll live. My son did that when he was small... [insert details to confirm why her situation is worse than mine], and he lived."

Thank you for this affirmation, while I am handing over the co-pay. I too know that he will be just fine, A-okay, none the lesser, and tremendously resilient. Still, I need to hear these words from someone who wears a stethoscope.

When it was our turn, they escorted us to the trauma room. We've been here before. More than once. So much so, they have offered to hang a plaque naming it the Tucker Room. And here we were, again.

We saw Dr. S today, a respectable combination between the above extremes. She checked him out, confirmed no fracture, wrapped his fingers in tape (equally to stabilize as well as to show off the injury, I am quite certain).

With bandages on his fingers and stickers on his shirt, we were set to go on with our day.

He is a little sore, a little puffy, and definitely racking up the sympathy points wherever he can find them. But he is just fine.

And mother's intution wins again.


The Kennedy Krew said...

Don't you just love being so familiar with the medical facility?! :)

Kathryn said...

Be happy you have the band-aid trick at your disposal. I have to bribe Elizabeth to even try to get one near her. The crying that is produced when I apply a band aid is always worse than the crying of pain. Needless to say, I have probably the only child ever who is not cured with a band aid, I did not know that was possible.
Glad to hear all was well in the end.

Kerri said...

There's not a mom on the planet who cannot relate to that tug o' war between knowing everything is really fine and needing authoritative confirmation. Kudos to you for giving up the Band-Aid battle - it took me almost 4 kids to figure out that it was a _really_ cheap, effective form of therapy regardless of the presence of blood.

Put it in the scrapbook - my kids are more proud of their battle scars than of their piano ribbons =).