I had no idea I was a coward until this morning when my mom told me I was. She asked me to come over and scrub her incision to get the rest of the gummy glue off. My stomach roiled, my eyes rolled back in my head and I had to take quite a few steadying breaths to respond. “That’s not my area. I don’t do injuries…just illness.” And even illness I don’t do well but it’s our agreement, Stan’s and mine. He does injuries. I do illnesses. But I didn’t think I was a coward because I don’t do blood or broken bones.
I’ll tell you how it came to be that I don’t do injuries. I can’t do injuries. I won’t do injuries. I become completely useless. Stan says I look like a cartoon character when the kids come in injured. Lucas was 27 months old the first time Stan saw this reaction with his own eyes. Claire was a newborn and my parents were visiting. My dad, Stan, Lucas and Zach were in the basement watching TV when Lucas tried to jump from the couch to the big trunk where the TV was sitting. He was a coordinated as any two year old and he missed his mark, smacking his forehead on the latch of the trunk. I was sitting in the kitchen holding Claire when I heard all hell break loose. Stan came upstairs holding the wounded Lucas whose lungs were being put to good use…the screams emanating from them were heartbreaking. I went rushing forward to grab him and then it hit me. This is point when Stan said I turned cartoon character-ish. He said he watched as the color drained from my face…he said I turned ghost white. Luckily, I was standing by a chair. My knees buckled and I sank, probably extremely ungracefully, onto said chair ~ if it hadn’t been there I would have ended up on the floor. The world turned black. Stan knew then that I was useless in helping to get Lucas patched up so he took off for the doctor’s office while I waited behind for him to be returned to me with stitches in his forehead.
A similar scenario repeated itself when Claire was four years old and a friend challenged her to jump in the pool backwards. I saw the whole thing play out in slow motion but I was powerless to stop it. Claire stood on the side of the pool, with her back to the water. She jumped in, drew her knees up to her chest and smashed her chin on the side of the pool. I was up, out of my chair, with a towel in my hand before she came up for air. I scooped her out of the water, pressed the towel on her chin and wrapped her in my arms. I was fine until I made the mistake of looking at her wound. Then it happened. My face drained, I felt it this time. My cheeks started blazing and the world went black, except for two, tiny pinholes of vision in front of me. I was useless but I couldn’t be. I was the only adult at the pool with five kids. Oh, God help me. Somehow I got her to the ER, but Stan had to take it from there. I was weak and gray. There was no way I could hold her hand while they stitched her face. I don’t do injuries.
I don’t think it’s cowardice. I think it’s smart. I’m useless in those situations and I know it. Why would I want to risk fainting or barfing when I know perfectly well someone else can handle it? There is a reason I’m not a nurse, though I’m surrounded by nurses in my family. My mom is a nurse, my mother in law is a nurse and my biological mother is a nurse. The nursing gene skipped…and for good reason. But I still don’t think the reason is because I am a coward. It’s an aversion, maybe even an affliction but I have to say I’m OK with it. If you wanna call me a coward, I’m OK with that too. It’s better that you know where I stand on this so when I faint at your feet or barf on your shoes trying to help with injuries you’ll know why…I don’t do injuries.
I’m hoping this little aversion of mine skips my kiddos. I want them to be able to handle blood. But if they can’t handle injuries then they need to take a page out of my play book and just need to handle illnesses. It makes for an easier for all involved if you know what you can and can’t handle.
Oh, for the love of my children….