When I was in the sixth grade, a gifted and talented education program I was a participant in organized a multi-day field trip from western North Carolina down to Huntsville, Alabama to the US Space and Rocket Center. I would’ve been about twelve years old. I remember having a pretty good time on the bus ride there. About a half hour before we arrived to Huntsville, I got up to get something out of the overhead compartment. I was in the window seat, and I reached over my seat mate and up to the latch to open the overhead compartment. When I unlatched it, the spring-loaded door flung open, and I lost my balance, falling over the legs of my companion, the empty aisle providing nothing for my arms to slow my fall, and the armrest on the seat across the aisle literally hit me between the eyes.
As it turns out, the skin on the bridge of your nose is quite taut, and it ripped open. All I recall was a thud, and not that much pain, but I freaked right the hell out when I saw all the blood. By the time an adult arrived to assist, there was a puddle of it on the floor. Apparently my classmates would later joke about having to “step over Erik” whenever they avoided that puddle/stain for the rest of the trip.
Some of the teachers on the trip were traveling in a car behind the bus, and the whole caravan pulled over at the nearest opportunity. I was transferred into the teachers car, still dazed. I remember some serious talk about taking me to a hospital, and one of the teachers produced a wad of cash, from which large bills were thumbed off. For what, I don’t know.
The busload of kids continued on to the destination, and I rode with a couple teachers to the Huntsville Emergency Room. Apparently there were two busses, because by the time I rejoined the kids, there were rumors that I had actually fallen through the glass window and out onto the highway. Gotta love how information spreads!
About that time, my parents received a phone call from one of the teachers informing them of my accident. They had an important decision to make: “Would you like the plastic surgeon or just the regular emergency room doctor to sew Erik up?” A few minutes later, as I was lying on a gurney in the ER, still holding a gauze to my face, the ER doctor comes in and tucks his tie between the buttons of his shirt – this was the first time I’d seen that move – puts on his latex gloves, looks me in the eye, and utters a sentence I’ll never forget, “This is going to hurt…A LOT.”
Memory of the actual pain of the procedure has faded, but I do still remember the view out the paper they covered me in with the hole only showing the area for stitching. It was probably only four or five stitches. A quarter century later, you can see the scar, but only if you really look hard and are told where to look: a little “V” right where the brows join.
Like Father Like Daughter
Surprising all the household bookies, my son Ian was not the first of my children to receive emergency stitches. It’s a constant battle to get Nora to wear her slippers when she’s at home. She’d much rather just pad around in her socks on our hardwood floors. Yesterday, as she was leaving the bathroom to head towards the living room, she took the corner a little too hard and fell. Unfortunately, her head hit the sharp corner of a radiator, and she cut her right eyebrow open.
She had a stream of blood down her cheek and neck, but nothing like what I bled so many years ago. Her eye, itself, was unharmed. After holding a towel and some ice to it for about ten minutes, we doused it with hydrogen peroxide and plopped a Hello Kitty™ bandaid on it.
Several hours later, when we pulled back the bandaid, we decided that, to be safe and minimize scarring, we should take her to the doctor. I drew the “stay at home with feverish little brother” straw, so I didn’t go with her. A half hour later, Nora returned home with a single stitch closing her wound.
From the two accounts I’ve heard of the stitching, she cried quite a bit, but understood the importance of remaining still and did so. As a parent, it’s hard not to think, “My poor baby damaged her perfect little face!” Women do weird things with their eyebrows, but I suspect that even her light blond eyebrows will conceal any scarring.