Let’s talk objects in space, shall we?

There are some things that should not collide: cars and occupied strollers, our planet and massive asteroids, Michelle Obama and John Boehner.

Also? This:

should not collide with the head of a twelve year old.  Or to put it another way, the head of a twelve year old should not collide with a goal post.

To go back to our physics lesson, would you like to know what happens when a twelve year old body, moving rapidly through space, collides with a stationary metal pole?

Here’s the answer: An inch-long gash along the top said child’s skull.

Yes, my friends, my child was, in fact, bleeding from the head. Blood dripping down his face, sopping onto his hands as he tried to mop himself up.

IMG_2046 His coach called with that odd mixed message “he’s fine but his head is bleeding, quite a bit, actually…” Which you know? anytime “his head is bleeding” is part of the conversation, “fine” seems just a tad incongruous.

This being Abu Dhabi, I had to drive drive drive to the soccer field and then drive drive drive to the ER with Liam clutching a towel to his head, muttering that it wasn’t fair that he had to miss the game, that he wasn’t bleeding that much.  This being Abu Dhabi, I also had to drive to hell and gone to find a parking place at the ER, and this being Abu Dhabi and the Sheikh Khalifa Hospital, the intake nurses in the ER carry late-model iPads (Liam found this fascinating and forgot the injustice of a self-inflicted head injury).  This being Abu Dhabi, in the pediatric ER waiting room, there was a woman doing her evening prayers in front of the plastic doll house and just under the TV blaring reruns of “Ben 10.” This being Abu Dhabi, the Irish nurse liked the name Liam, the Filipina nurses thought maybe Liam was Filipino, and the attending physician asked us slowly and carefully “can I talk to you in English?”

The doctor rinsed the head wound with saline, sloshing out the dried blood and a little bright red fresh blood. Here’s a thing: One really never wants to see the blood of one’s children. A biology lesson: blood should stay subcutaneous.  Seeing Liam stretched out on the hospital bed, I had a weird flashback to the second-to-last day of his stay in the NICU, when after two months he’d finally hit the magical weight of four pounds, which meant he could be discharged. But first, he had to have an operation on a double hernia.  Four pounds (1.8 kilos) is like a very small sack of rice, basically, and it amazed me that anyone could even diagnose a double-hernia in something so small, much less operate on it.  But operate they did, and the sight of that tiny little body on a huge hospital gurney (which was, in fact, probably child-sized) rendered Husband and I into teary-eyed pulp.

Liam wasn’t even knocked out for this procedure, just as he wasn’t for the chin-on-the-edge-of-the-swimming-pool procedure, or the running-full-tilt-into-a-cement-wall procedure. This procedure only required a BIG needle of anesthetic and four staples.

Pause for a minute, please, and remember the sound of a stapler chunking into, say, a bulletin board. Now instead of a bulletin board, imagine that stapler ka-chungk,, ka-chungk, ka-chungk, ka-chungk into your child’s skull.


Staples. Who knew.

He’s fine, is this hard-headed twelve-year old. He has a headache, duh, but no concussion, no wobblies, no nothing. Wolfed down pizza for dinner, snapped at his brother, muttered about the fact that his team went 1-1 instead winning outright.  Simple: we wash the wound every day with saline and the staples  come out in ten days. The doctor who ulp stapled Liam’s head said that basically, Liam could go play soccer that evening (I said no fucking way, or words to that effect).

What did I learn? I learned that even if you don’t know them very well, moms on the sidelines of your kid’s sports team will hold shut bleeding scalps, will offer to drive your kid to the ER, will give a lift to the team-mate you were supposed to drive home, will scrounge up an old towel to put on top of the bloody gauze bandage. I learned that having a next-door neighbor who is a nurse familiar with the city’s ERs is a really, really great thing.

I learned that even if you know it’s all going to be all right, driving your kid to the ER is never, in fact, all right.

And I learned my physics lesson: that if your child’s skull collides with a metal goal post, those forces will combine to create an abiding need for a glass of wine after the stapled-head child goes to bed.