When There Is No Emergency Room, But You Know You Need One!

Ker-thump.  I was off the bed, scooping Jack up from the cement floor in less than a heartbeat.

Even though he’s a monkey, Jack was in a little bit too much of a hurry to climb the ladder to the top bunk.  Evie, who was already on the top bed, later told us, “I saw his face than I didn’t.”  That means he was at the top when he fell.  The worst part was that his head smacked the corner of a solid cement platform on the way down.  Pictures below.

Big ugly crying.


Tactical Dad immediately went into action.  If it weren’t for the fact that it generally only happens when there’s an emergency, it would be kinda fun to watch Scott switch into a different mode… another kind of person.

Sure.  Efficient.  Calm.  Direct.  Like cold steel instead of funny and engaging.

Scott did an assessment of Jack.  No loss of consciousness.  The neck seemed to be ok. Pupils looked right.  Big gash on his scalp.  He applied slight pressure to the wound to slow the bleeding then he made the call that Jack would need stitches.  He was out the door arranging transport and back in the room to collect us, his wallet and our passports in less than 3 minutes.  That’s not even an exaggeration.  It was disorientingly fast.  I barely had time to put a bra on (and honestly, the fact that I needed to was met with some impatience but… come on… mandatory).

We were on a fairly remote island in the Andaman Sea.  In general, the facilities on the island are just different than in the states.  Example: you must throw your toilet paper in the trash after use instead of flushing it down the loo.

That’s different. 💩 ☹️

There wasn’t a hospital for several hours and a ferry ride.  Different.

Getting back to Bangkok really wouldn’t have been easy – a full day of travel by car, boat and plane.

We took a tuk-tuk to a medical clinic – something along with lines of a CVS well center with a bit more stuff.  It was closed.  We went to a second clinic.  It was closing in 15 minutes, but thankfully, everyone was still there at 9 pm.

I walked in with Jack in my arms.  I pointed to his head.  They saw the blood.  The language barrier overcome. 😌

A nurse cleaned out the wound… and really dug into it.  Poor kid.  It was brutal.  I think she was actually touching skull with her q-tip.  It’s a funny thing how when your kid is really hurt, the mom connection makes you feel it too.  My head didn’t hurt but my heart literally felt pain.

They shaved a little square around the gash.

The doctor arrived and did his assessment.  3 stitches.  Jack got a shot full of numbing agent straight into the hole.  It took 5 adults to hold him down.  I had to let Scott do it because he’s stronger than I am and I wanted to be where Jack could see me.  I locked eyes with him and stayed in front of his face so he could see me during the scariest part.

We were back in the hotel room in about an hour. Scott quickly switched back to normal. Jack and Evie went right to bed.  I had a little more trouble.

These things happen.  I’ve let both kids climb plenty of ladders.  This was a freak accident.  They happen.  I just couldn’t sleep though… too many questions.  What are the possible complications?  What should I be watching for?  Could he have cracked his skull?  If he did, will his brains and/or spinal fluid leak out (too much tv)?  I don’t consider myself a big worrier, but this time was an exception.

Finally, I did 2 things.

I hit up Sarah… because she’s my medical person and the middle of the night in Thailand is the middle of the day in the U.S.  Nothing and I mean nothing, phases her when it comes to medical stuff.  She’s always cool as a cucumber.  She’s also an outstanding mom.  I can’t count how many times I’ve started with, “Hey… sorry to bother you… but…”  She calmed my nerves over messenger.

I also sent an email to Jack’s regular doctor, Dr. Jack, in Maine.  To follow that up, I called the office to leave a message so they would know there’s an email.  It was Monday of Memorial Day weekend, so I didn’t expect to hear from them until Tues.

Let’s talk about Dr. Jack for a moment.  I fully believe he was sent to us as a gift from beyond.  My Spirit Cabal knew we needed someone special because we’re weird.  They delivered.  Dr. Jack just gets us.  He’s also just an old-school doctor and all-around outstanding person.  I pushed 8 on the phone to leave him a message and was put through directly to his personal cell phone.  I literally had a 10-minute conversation with him about the situation.  He told me what to do, what to expect, what to look for.  He asked for emailed pictures.  He put my questions to rest which finally allowed me to go to sleep.

So… the rules with stitches….  no swimming.  That lasted for about 48 hours and then I quit trying. We bought some iodine, cleaned it every night and hoped for the best.  Everything turned out fine.

When it was time to take the stitches our, we bought a little manicure set and tried to do it ourselves.  The clippers weren’t sharp enough so we ended up going back to the clinic.  That was unexpectedly closed for a couple of days.  Typical.  We waited and went back. Stitches out… minor drama, but complete.

Now Jack is all healed up.

Final Reflection: I started an email to Grandmom with, “Don’t worry.  Everything is fine.  Jack fell off a bunk bed ladder.”  That email was enough for her to start looking for plane tickets.  By the time I woke up the next morning, she had a full plan in place. She’s ready to be in Thailand on the island in 2 days (because time zones).  She had flights picked out and was noodling over how to arrange a car by the time I put a stop to it.

My goodness… how did I get so lucky to have this incredible person as my mom?!  The woman who never wanted to leave the country, didn’t care to get a passport, is always afraid “they won’t let her back into the country” every time she speaks to US immigration, is now ready to travel to a remote island on the other side of the planet not speaking the language to get to her people when she’s needed.  There are no words to capture how completely awesome that is.

– Scott’s notes:
While head injuries are always a big concern, Jacks initial reaction indicated that he was likely “ok”. Kid’s heads are still “soft” so what might crack the skull of an adult is just an annoyance to a child. Jack’s head wound was deep but didn’t bleed much (head wounds can be bad bleeders). The depth of the wound was a concern and why I thought stitches would be appropriate.




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