May 29, 2015

She looked at us and her eyes filled with tears–real tears, not the crocodile variety we so often see–because the words “I’m going to pop the tangerine-sized blister on the back of your hand with a needle” are scary.

Untitled designThe poor girl is suffering the effects of a second-degree burn (an incident that occurred while out of our home, for what that’s worth). And as a friendly public service announcement, please note that a freshly-microwaved cup of soup is in fact capable of inflicting second-degree burns. Ouch. The burn was initially treated in the emergency room (a process that only took a few minutes out of the three hours that Todd was there waiting for her–why does it always take so long?), and we unwrapped the bandage the next morning to discover the presence of the blister.

She was so brave though. So incredibly brave. She requested I be the one to do it, so she turned and stared hard into Todd’s handsome eyes while I put to use all that knowledge we gained in our first aid class: sanitize the needle, puncture the blister, maintain consciousness when it explodes. Done and done. And afterwards she thanked us and said it didn’t even hurt, which was possibly true, although the burn is so bad it has got to be bothering her more than she’s letting on.

Turns out that popping and draining an obscenely large blister was a walk in the park compared to what was next, though. At her follow-up appointment with the pediatrician a few days later, they advised us to take her to the burn unit at a hospital in the skeevy part of town, so Todd with his handsome eyes took our girl and they navigated the scary parking lot and hallways filled with cops and crime victims, and he attempted to shield her from seeing her fellow occupants of the burn unit, who were in much worse shape than she was. And the nice people there gave her some pain medication and some toys and then they cut off all of the nasty blistered skin, which I don’t think our girl thought was a fair trade. And this morning, per the instructions given us, we removed the previous bandage, scrubbed the burn with a washcloth, tried to remain stoic while she sobbed, re-bandaged her little ravaged hand, and held her hair back while she puked all over the floor. Then I hugged her tight and promised that it would get better each time, and I sure hope it does, because we’ve got to do this twice a day for the foreseeable future.

Then we sent her off to her last day of school and I went back inside and burst into tears, because it was all so horrible, and because it was the last day of school and instead of making it special and taking pictures and eating a fun breakfast, I nursed a baby and then helped Todd deal with our girl and her trauma, and I barely even saw my older two boys as they left the house to end their fourth and first grade years.

I was on my hands and knees wiping stress-induced vomit off the ground and wondering how she managed to miss the trash can that was right in front of her and I was feeling sorry for myself, and then I was feeling guilty for feeling sorry for myself, because Todd is the one who’s been hanging out for hours on end in hospitals with her, and for goodness’ sake, SHE’S the one walking around with a burn on her poor hand. And I was struggling against feeling resentful because this didn’t happen on our watch but we’re the ones taking her to appointments and picking up prescriptions and changing her bandage twice a day and basically doing all the hard stuff, and how could they let this happen because we certainly wouldn’t, except OH WAIT, there was that one time that we had to take our toddler to the emergency room twice in one day. And then I thought what’s foster care if not that–loving a child exactly how they need to be loved for the time they’re with us, no matter what? Then again, what’s parenting if not that? Dying to self to care for our children, whatever that may look like?

All I can hope is that my baby will feel loved by the 24/7 care he receives from us, that my older boys will feel loved even when things are chaotic and I don’t make that hour before their last day of school feel special, and that our girl will always and forever have people in her life to love her and walk through pain with her.


  1. Jihae says:

    cant believe I made myself re-live this by now reading about it after hearing about it! It is officially etched in my mind forever! you are awesome and I love you and you have a steel stomach and even stronger resolve to be the best mom in the universe. Also, her bandaging at the park yesterday looked like it was professionally done. Perhaps you should be a wound dresser.

    • elisajoy says:

      Todd gets the credit for the bandaging. And the hospital hooked us up with some pretty legit supplies, even some fancy scissors. I’ll ask Todd if he’s interested in professional wound dressing.

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