Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Back Scalpel

The thing I most remember the ER nurse telling us (oh, and great bed-side manner, by the way) was that taking the stitches out will probably hurt more than putting them in. Fortunately, Connor either didn't hear him or forgot he said it. But it has been weighing on my mind for the last 9 days. When I haven't been worried about him falling on the asphalt and ripping his lip open again, trying to dissuade him from salty fries or ketchup I have been worried about getting his stitches out.

Today was stitches removal day. To add to my anxiety about how much it would hurt was knowing I had too few hands for the job. William would be going to the appointment with us. I wouldn't be able to keep him occupied since I would be holding Connor down and talking him through the procedure. So I got all sorts of treats and fun toys into the diaper bag and then hid them from William until the doctor was ready to remove the stitches. That meant 20-minutes of keeping him occupied and out of the diaper bag. And Connor has seen the treats so he kept asking for them as I was shushing him so William wouldn't hear.

Connor was a trooper though. It was mommy who was so scared. Just like when he got his stitches he laid so still while the doctor poked and prodded. And just before the doctor got out his scissors to cut the stitches I have William his bag of grapes. Just the thing to keep him seated and quiet for a few minutes. The doctor spent a bit trying to get the right angle on the stitches and we switched places a few times before I told him what the ER nurse had said. He was hoping to use the scissors, but we had to take out the dreaded back scalpel.

Up to this point I didn't know exactly what that term meant. When I got a look at this implement I realized my fear was not unfounded. It is a tiny double-sided razor blade. I would say it was about as wide as a fork tong. The doctor needed to stick this sharp object between the too-tight stitches and my baby's lip. The conversation when like this:

Me: Um, is that a razor blade?
Dr.: Yes, that's why I tried the scissors first.
Me: Oh. I think I'm going to hold his head still.
Dr.: Yea. I think that's a good idea.

Connor was already nervous, so I tried to remain calm. But all I could think about is if Connor jerks or sits up while the doctor is maneuvering the scalpel we are going to need more stitches!

It took a bit of work, some reassuring, and cheerleading. We took a few breaks in between removals and the doctor was good about keeping the scalpel from William's reach. Four stitches were removed and one dissolving stitch. Connor got a tiny nick from the last stitch, it was in pretty tight. The doctor praised him for doing a good job and then reiterated it to me. "Really, Mom, he did a great job. He really made my job easier." Then he told Connor he could get "a couple of stickers". Connor made sure the nurses knew he was allowed more than one.

I'm so afraid that my sons are taking baby-steps and readying me for something much bigger and more drastic. Although I was nervous when Connor got his stitches it was far worse the 3rd time than the first time. Now this time we got to use a whole new procedure and instrument. I'm so afraid that x-rays are next.

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