Monday, August 1, 2011

Doctors and Moles

My kids are totally different from me as a child (so I’ve been told).  In looks they do somewhat resemble my childlike self but in personality and temperament they couldn’t be more different. I was most happy when left to my own devices with a good book (still am actually).  I did climb the odd tree and growing up on a farm meant that I was pretty active but most definitely an introvert.  Although I was the only one of my siblings to actually break a bone (or two) but even then I did it in a very non spectacular way (stepping down 1 step, losing balance on a trampoline, etc).

I’m actually rather surprised that we haven’t had any broken bones amongst our girls as yet.  We have had a couple of emergency room visits.  Most notable was a month or so ago when the kids were playing outside with the cat.  It turns out the cat had caught a mole (clever cat) and Emily, not really knowing anything about moles, decided that she needed to get a better look at this creature before the cat ripped its head off.  She wasn’t at all concerned that the cat was going to bring about the untimely demise of this tiny defenseless animal, she just wanted a good look at it before it expired.

So while the cat leapt about playing with its food, Emily bent down and picked the poor thing up.  Very bad idea, the mole sunk its little teeth squarely into her finger.  So we go from hearing happy playing sounds to hearing shrieks and screams.  Well actually I didn’t hear any of this at all.  I was taking a nap at the time and James was on duty downstairs.  So it was James who was met at the front door by a visibly shaken daughter whose finger was bleeding profusely. 

Rather than take a cloth outside and sit on the porch swing whilst diagnosing said bleeding he made his first mistake.  He opened the door.  In she came, wide eyed and panicked.  And what do you do when you’re feeling this way?  Well of course you shake your hand as hard as you can in as many directions as possible.  You can imagine the scene that met me when I descended the stairs a few moments later.  It looked like there had been a mafia hit in my kitchen.  Blood was splattered on the floor, walls and several other places which I found over the next couple of days.

Once we had gained control of the situation and calmed down the child we found that the actual wound was very small and probably just needed a band aid.  But here’s the problem.  I come from a country that doesn’t have moles.  Add this to that the fact that neither James nor I had ever heard of anyone being bit by a mole and we weren’t really sure what to do.  James suggested that perhaps the mole might have rabies.  I had looked at this little creature as it lay winded and wounded on the front path (she had shaken the poor thing right off her finger and probably given it a concussion when it hit the ground) and it didn’t appear to be foaming at the mouth. 

At this point we didn’t have a doctor yet so couldn’t call them about the dilemma.  We decided the safest thing to do was to take her down to the emergency room.  We piled in the car, found out where the emergency room was located and sped off in its general direction.  James had decided that we should bring the offending animal with us so we had a shoebox in the boot (trunk) with the mole inside.  Whenever things got quiet in the car we could hear its tiny squeaks. 

We arrived at the emergency room and they started checking us in.  The poor girl on the reception desk had to ask several times before she finally realized that she’d heard right the first time.  Yes our 5 year old daughter did get bitten by a mole.  No she did not put her hand down a mole hole, she picked it up before the cat finished it off.  Emily proudly waves her war wound under the girl’s nose.

Emily gets given an arm band and we’re told to wait in the waiting room.  They weren’t all that busy that night and the two other kids waiting there with us actually looked sick.  One had an enormous welt on her hand where she’d been bitten by something (apparently not a mole once stories were swapped amongst the kids).  The other little girl had a face so swollen her eyes were like slits (she didn’t know what had caused this but it was definitely not a mole).

I sat there trying to look normal.  It was pretty hard.  Emily was telling anyone who would listen that she had been bitten by a mole and showing them her almost microscopic wound.  I hung my head, this was bad.  We were new to town and it really wasn’t possible to just slip into life here unnoticed was it?

I tried and tell Emily that perhaps she shouldn’t be quite so proud of her rather unusual experience.  It fell on deaf ears. 

I tried talking to the other mothers while we waited.  It turns out swollen face girl was doing a report on kangaroos at school and after hearing my accent they thought I was the ultimate fount of knowledge on the subject.  I didn’t have the heart to tell them that I was, in fact, from a country that has no kangaroos at all and I managed to dredge up some interesting facts on the animal from my memory banks. 

We finally got called in to see the triage nurse.  He was a lovely guy, more interested in talking about video games with James than looking too hard at Emily’s wound.  It could have been that he’d lost his magnifying glass or it could have been that he really was trying not to laugh in front of us.  He did find quite a number of reasons to leave the room and we may or may not have heard muffled chuckles at these times.

We were transferred to a different section of the emergency room, away from the really sick people and into the area reserved for those who didn’t so much need medical treatment as much as advanced life skills.  We sat in the waiting room there for a while.  The girls had been given goodie bags to keep them occupied.  The goody bags had been lovingly assembled by volunteers to make life just a little bit better for those children who find themselves in life threatening and traumatic situations.  I felt a bit like a fraud accepting these treats.

We were finally moved into a tiny treatment room and asked to repeat our story for yet another member of the nursing staff who had no doubt heard the story from her colleagues but really just had to find out if they were pulling her leg or not.  They were not.  It was true.  She had been bitten by a mole.  After a quick look at the appendage and a noise half way between a cough and a snort she told us that the doctor would be with us momentarily.  Yes, I thought, right after he gets over his laughing fit and is able to walk in the door with a straight face.

We sat in that room for about 20 minutes which seemed like a lifetime with 3 kids who were by this point hungry, tired and more than slightly bored.

Finally the doctor arrived.  He had obviously been told all about it but just had to ask again.  We weakly explained that not being familiar with mole bites we weren’t sure if there were any risks of infection from them.  James even mentioned that in case he was interested in seeing it we did have the mole in the car. The doctor smiled and said that it wouldn’t be necessary for him to see the actual mole and that because moles are not carriers of rabies really all that was required was a disinfecting bath (for the finger) and a band aid.  Of course, he said, if she’d been bitten by a raccoon that would be an entirely different story.  He prepared the bath with this own hands and helped Emily place her
finger into it.  He said he’d check back in 15 minutes.

I felt mortified, why couldn’t she have been harassing a raccoon instead of a silly little mole?  At least then we wouldn’t have half the staff of the hospital walking past the open door of our room trying to look like they really had somewhere to go besides getting a look at the girl who got bit by a mole.

The doctor came back, gave Emily a band aid for her finger (which fell off before we got home) and told us to repeat the disinfecting baths for a few days (we didn’t and her finger doesn’t even have a scar) and sent us on our way with the wise words “maybe you shouldn’t try to pick up anymore wild animals”.

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