When I was a kid, I had my fair share of scrapes, stitches, and other injuries. I never broke a bone, but I did engage in solid boneheaded behavior. One time my friends and I found poison ivy in our schoolyard, and I had the brilliant idea to rub it on ourselves to see what would happen. It turns out I’m not allergic to poison ivy; however, one friend was out of school for a week, and the other ended up in the hospital. What I lacked in common sense, I made up for in bad ideas.
Out of all of my children, my son is a real injury magnet. And because of my in-the-trenches training, I thought I might have a few carrots of wisdom to pass along. I also polled some of my blog colleagues, and so what follows are some observations and advice. Obviously, this does not replace medical care or guidance. Do seek it out if ever you suspect your child to be seriously injured!
Scrapes, Scratches, and Gashes
One mama suggests steering clear of Neosporin due to the fact that it can be allergenic (I never knew that). She suggests turning to Aquaphor or vaseline instead. However another mom swears by Neosporin spray. There were a couple of hot tips on band-aids from our moms with one mom warning to stay away from the cloth ones because they can rip skin off (yikes). The Welly brand is one that one FCM keeps on hand. I’ll have to check that one out!
Sometimes it can be hard to tell if something needs stitches. I have discovered that the things to look for are uncontrolled bleeding (pretty obvious) and separation that is significant in the gash. If you can see the fat under the skin, it’s time for stitches. I know lots of moms swear by going straight to a plastic surgeon and skipping the emergency room all together. Of course that’s not always possible and does depend on the location of the cut.
My daughter had the top of her head stitched at our doctor’s office and there is absolutely no scar. My son had his chin and tongue stitched in different emergency rooms for two separate injuries. I was assured that the chin wouldn’t need a plastic surgeon but now I’m not so sure. Time will tell if he has a weird beard line or not!
Concussion or a Really Bad Bump?
If I had a dollar for the amount of times my son has bumped his head, I would surely be a millionaire. I even bought him a little soft helmet to avoid injury when he was a toddler because I was so worried about his brain. He’s still not the steadiest on his feet and has had MANY huge bumps on his head. One time I brought him to the ER after he hit his forehead on some monkey bars and had a huge lump. The doctor lifted his hair to expose another huge bump on the other side of his forehead! He literally had a pair of horns on the front of his head. I felt like mother of the year… However despite the epic number of hits to the face and head, he has only ever had one official concussion (so far).
We were five minutes into a visit to a local bounce spot when he landed head first onto the ground sliding off of a bounce house. His friend arrived to meet us right then and although he cried a lot, he wouldn’t sit with ice on his head and instead ran around like only a crazed 4-year-old in a bounce place can for an hour. Suddenly he began to complain of a headache. He held his head and laid on the floor. I put him in his carseat to pick up his sister at school and he began vomiting. I drove straight to the pediatrician where he vomited again and then lost consciousness. They called an ambulance.
However, by the time the EMTs got us outside, he woke up and asked for goldfish. It was the shortest and fastest trip to the ER ever. Once there, they basically glanced at him saying that he had a concussion and to have him rest and stay as still as possible for about five days. They also recommended “brain rest.” Which means avoiding bright lights and especially screens. Anyone ever try to keep a 4-year-old from moving a lot without screens? Interestingly, they also said that sleep or falling asleep is not a bad sign as we once thought; it’s more like the brain needs rebooting and isn’t something to worry about. I did check on him throughout that first night but he pulled through ok.
From this experience I learned that the right thing to have done with that initial injury is to insist on icing the head and certainly not allowing him to run around for an hour. That absolutely made it much worse. I figured that if he was truly injured, he wouldn’t be running. However, I’m not sure that children can always make that call for themselves.
Broken Bone or a Sprain?
By some miracle, we haven’t had any broken bones in my home as of yet. However, I do know from personal experience that a sprain can be incredibly swollen and disfigured and need weeks of rehabilitation. I don’t have any hot tips about how to approach assessing the need for a doctor’s visit vs toughing it out with this type of injury but when in doubt, as always, seek medical attention.