Off the Dial

“He came in with the thumb”

Well, we had our first emergency room visit with one of kids yesterday. Benny got his thumb smashed in a door and we were pretty sure he needed stitches.

I was at work when it happened – Slade took Benny to Presbyterian Hospital in Huntersville and I met them there. Luckily, it was a short drive (about 15 minutes) and Slade was able to reassure me it wasn’t that bad before I got there. In fact, Benny ate lunch in the car on the way to the ER.

So I thought I was pretty calm, but when I walked into the ER waiting room, I said to the women behind the counter, “I’m looking for my husband and my son. He came in with the thumb.” Then, my nervous sense of humor kicked in and I added, “I assume he’ll be leaving with it.” Hysterical.

When I got there, Benny was lying in a hospital bed watching Teletubbies. He had a big bandage on his thumb, but otherwise looked just fine. He did look very, very small to me. Slade had checked his blood sugar and we decided not to give him any insulin even though he’d eaten lunch. In our (brief) experience with diabetes, stress can cause blood sugar to drop and I thought seeing a doctor sew up his thumb would be pretty stressful for our little guy.

A big, big thank you to John Murphy, the physician’s assistant who did the deed, and to nurses Tracey and Shellie who had the unpleasant task of making sure Benny stayed still during. They kept telling me he was doing great, even though he looked to me like he was about to freak out (me too!). After the stitches were in, Shelli showed me the “papoose” they sometimes have to use to hold little kids still. I’m glad he didn’t have to be restricted like that, but I can see how it happens.

His blood sugar was pretty steady – it turned out to be a good idea to skip his insulin dose just then. They sent us home with some antibiotics and Benny’s thumb wrapped up in a huge green bandage. It’s like a Hulk thumb on this little 2-year old hand. They gave us the left-over roll of green bandage; I think they knew Benny would like playing with it. It came in handy later when Lea told us she needed a bandage too (of course!).

So we’re doing okay – the stitches will come out in about a week. Slade said he could do it himself. I’m sure he could. My husband is the youngest of five boys and his parents thought duct tape made a pretty good bandage. Even so, I’ll be calling our pediatrician today to make that appointment.

Benny’s big sister

My daughter has started playing “hospital.” Lea is 5 and at bedtime lately, she wants to pretend she’s been treated for a mysterious illness. It’s always something that requires an overnight stay (but never a shot!).

It’s easy to see much of this comes from the 3 days back in December when our son, Benny, was diagnosed with Type I diabetes. Slade and I took turns spending nights with him at Carolinas Medical Center.

I’ve been so impressed with how well Lea has handled our new routines, but I’m sort of waiting for the backlash. We’ve always monitored out kids’ diets pretty closely – I never kept chips or juice around. Now, though, we’ve gone from eating almost whatever we want, whenever we want, to measuring and counting every single thing Benny eats and restricting even more when we have “treaty” snacks like fruit roll ups and cookies.

Since we count carbs for Benny, for a while were even afraid to give him fruit. We’ve come to our senses, thank goodness. How can you teach a 2-year old that an apple or a banana is a treat to be restricted along with chocolate or sweets? Benny has decided that cantaloupe is his favorite right now (only 2 carbs per ounce! whoohoo!). I’m trying to get him to call it “lope.” He calls it “soup.”

But, see, even here when I started out talking about Lea, I came right back to Benny. And that’s what worries me. I think we have to acknowledge and accept that he will get more of our attention, but also convey to her that she has our undivided support and of, course, our unconditional love.

The New York Times has an interesting article this week about children affected by their sibling’s experience with illness. I’m struck by the support these kids, including mine, give their brothers and sisters.

Lea loves to help out. She helps us take Benny’s blood sugar and draw up his insulin. She doesn’t understand why I won’t let her give her brother the actual shot, though. And she’s very good at letting us know if Benny eats something when we’re not looking!

I know it’s important to reinforce the idea that our family is a team in dealing with this. So I was excited to hear about Charlotte Parent’s Art Contest. They’re asking kids to submit a piece of artwork to be considered for the art collection at the new Levine Children’s Hospital. It’s open to kids ages 5 through 18 and there are a few rules you have to follow. Click here for more information.

I’m going to tell Lea about it this weekend. She loves to draw and I think it’ll be a fun way for her to express her feelings about the hospital. It also seems like a nice way to send sort of a thank you to the wonderful people who gave Benny such great care.