Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Our Easter Sunday had another incident that I did not mention in my previous post because I felt it deserved to stand alone.  I mentioned before that our yard took a beating over the winter and that a large portion of the split rail fence needed to be repaired.  There is a section next to one of the gates that collapsed completely, one of the posts sheared off at ground level, causing the two rails to become dislodged and fall over.  This is a section that all of the neighborhood kids climb over since they don’t seem to be able to use the gate that is five feet away and that is usually open anyway.

On Saturday, I reset the post and the rails so that the dog wouldn’t attempt to jump over it and go roaming around the neighborhood in the search for food or someone to pet him.  It wasn’t stable at all, but I hoped it would stay that way for a little while until I could replace the post and rails.  I contemplated hanging a sign that said, “Please use the gate” or “Use the gate or suffer the penalty of a slow, painful death in the belly of the Sarlacc.”  I figured, at the time, that if they couldn’t operate a gate, they probably wouldn’t have the ability to read or even comprehend being digested slowly in a Sarlacc’s belly over thousands of years.

My kids spent most of the day outside, playing with friends and their cousin.  My wife and I were inside when we heard the pained tears of a 5 year old.  I don’t know if all parents can do this, but I know that my wife and I can tell the difference between cries of pain and cries of disappointment/disgust/despair and also distinguish between the cries of a 5 YO and 7 YO.  These were definitely cries of pain and they were coming from a 5 YO.  And based on the rising frequency, they were getting closer.  We waited a few seconds before the 5 YO burst through the door leading out to the garage. 

All bones and teeth (especially teeth) seemed to be intact.  There were not copious amounts of blood, just a few scrapes and a few new bruises.  The problem seemed to be a big ass splinter (big ass < 1”, huge ass >= 1”) in the palm of his hand.  The splinter was not only big, but embedded firmly under the skin with nothing exposed above the skin’s surface. 

I received a disjointed, barely comprehensible tale of the events prior to the tears and injuries.  There was something about his brother running, and not being able to catch him, and his cousin, and a fence.  A fence?  Which fence?  Oh the broken fence that I told you not to climb over anymore?  The broken fence that has a fully functional gate that takes much less energy, time and injury to open and walk through?  Waaaaaaa, yes.  Cross examination complete, the jury finds you guilty of lacking common sense.  The sentence will be mitigated due to receiving just reward for not thinking first.

My wife and I informed the 5 YO that the splinter would have to come out.  It didn’t have to happen right then, but after his bath that night.  The rest of the day was uneventful and as the kids finished their showers I prepared the surgical instruments for the splinter extraction.  Tweezers, sewing needle, various band-aids, antibiotic ointment, topical anesthetic salve (if you can get your hands on some of this, it is AWESOME for dulling the pain of things like this).

The 5 YO made his way to the OR (normally it is the BR, but redesignated for the next few minutes until the splinter has been removed).  The eyes were already welling with new tears.  The patient was prepped with anesthetic and all of us took up their positions.  My wife would be performing this procedure.  I assumed the role of OR nurse and primary distraction.  The 7 YO would have the dual role of cheerleader and also providing random jeers and discouraging remarks.

My wife attempted several time to extract the splinter with the tweezers, but couldn’t get a hold of it. 

Me:  “Just keep looking at me, don’t look at what Mommy is doing.”

The surgeon: “It’s too far under, I need the needle.”

5 YO: “A needle, WAAAAaaaaa!”

Me: “It’s ok, we just need the needle to lift up the splinter.  It will be fine.”

7 YO: “Get the needle!”

Me: “Can you just shut up for 5 minutes?  Or at least try to be nice to your brother?”

The surgeon: “Did you burn the needle?”


Me: “No, Dr. Mengele, I did not burn it.  But thank you for mentioning burning and needles in the same sentence, I’m sure your patient would thank you too if he was not hysterical with fear at the thought of a burning hot needle being inserted into his already injured hand.  I did clean it with alcohol though.”


Me: “You are being so brave right now, just sit still.”

Dr. Mengele:  “This is deep.  I need to break the skin.”

Me: “Seriously?  Can you keep the comments to yourself?  I don’t think he really needs to know what is going on.  Just keep being brave, big guy.”

5 YO (barely comprehensible between the sobs and snot, his eyes locked on mine): “I… am… trying… I… brave… three… scary… houses…tried…”

Me:  “What?  What scary houses?”   (Oh! The three neighborhood houses that get decorated as haunted houses at Halloween that the kids are usually terrified of.  Every year they attempt to go up to them.  This past Halloween the 5 YO made it to one, the 7 YO made it to all of them.)

Me:  “You are doing great.  This is easier than all of those dumb scary houses.  Just keep looking at me.  You are being so brave.”

7 YO: “Yeah, you are being so brave.  Just like me.”

Wife: “Got it!”

Me:  “See?  That wasn’t so bad.  You didn’t even notice she was working on it.”

Band-aids were applied, tears wiped away.  The 5 YO was awarded a piece of Easter candy the next morning for his bravery.  The 7 YO was awarded a piece of candy for supporting his little brother and helping him through a traumatic incident.  In all fairness to my wife, she was not the Angel of Death, and did a great job in removing the splinter as quickly and painlessly as possible from a moving target.  Her bedside manner could use some work though.

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