An Ear-full

When I started my blog a year ago, just about exactly a year ago from today, (Happy Birthday Blog! Bless you for reading Readers!), one reason I wanted to write was to mark the moments and cement the memories we make as a family. I wanted to write so I could remember, and my kids could learn about their lives at the beginning- what we believed in, how we behaved, and what brought us back to what really mattered.

Today I’ll recount the story of last Wednesday- primarily for the purpose of telling 8-year-old Oakley about one brave day and the little scar he wears on his ear.

Wednesday morning, January 22, 2014 8:30am (this already sounds waaaay too dramatic)

Oakley and I were in the kitchen cleaning up breakfast. The big kids were at school and Drew was at work for an 8:30 meeting. I held Oaks while I rinsed the oatmeal pot in the sink. He reached to grab the wooden spoon nearby and stirred the rinse water in the pot. I had to go to the bathroom (the alternating cups of coffee and water catch up with me quick!) so I moved the pot and an inch of clean water to the floor and handed him the wooden spoon. He was diaper-less after just being changed (I love air time for young bums), and I took off his socks so he wouldn’t slip before I headed out of the kitchen.

While I was washing my hands moments later, I heard Oakley cry out with a distressed and screeching cry. I ran to the kitchen and found him face down near the pot. He had slipped somehow despite my deliberate sock removal. I held him up to investigate the injury. Nothing blaring at first sight. Then I saw blood on his right ear. I looked closer, wiped a bit of blood away and screamed. His ear lobe was split! A laceration, tear, gaping split, tore his tiny, tender ear lobe in half.

I quickly realized this was a big deal. “We need to go somewhere. Somewhere for stitches. How serious of stitches?”, the thoughts raced through my head as moans and cries flew out my mouth. I was pacing and carrying Oakley and freaking out. I called Drew mid freak-out and in some semblance of words and yells said, “Oakley is really hurt. I have to go somewhere. I don’t know where to go. He is really hurt.” I was crying, Oakley was wailing.

It was 8:35am at this point and Drew’s meeting was going to start late. This was key. He was able to call an urgent care clinic for me to assure they would see a young child. I got myself out of jammies and Oakley diapered, and stuffed a few things in the diaper bag. I wanted to distract and help Oaks as much as possible so I gave him a snack trap full of frozen blueberries for the ride. He had calmed down and the bleeding from his ear was minimal.

I headed towards the clinic- not quite knowing if that was where I should go- the big hospital ER seemed too big, but my doctor’s office seemed too non-emergent- I needed help now. When I opened Oakley’s van door to get him out at the clinic, my heart skipped another beat. He was all black and blue- oh the frozen blueberries! He had devoured them with all 5 right fingers and his whole mouth and chin. I took the time to wipe him down- off with the blue and some more ear blood- before heading in.

The nurses were quick we were talking to a doctor within 5 minutes. He was a kind, dutiful man who quickly noted the youth of his morning patient. He laid Oaks on the table and cleaned his ear. This was agony for all involved- the nurse was sad, it hurt my heart to see and hear him in pain, and Oakley screamed and writhed. It was enough to assure the doctor of his first impression: his ear needed “major repair- internal and external stitches” and his age dictated the need for anesthesia that would keep him still. As the only doctor in an urgent care clinic, he was medically capable but didn’t have the time or supplies to give us the care we needed. He suggested we head to Children’s Mercy Hospital.

“What?! Children’s Mercy?” That place looms large in my mind as a place for devastatingly sick children. Children’s Mercy is the place my friend’s son receives surgeries for his serious condition and spends months at a time in care and recovery. Children’s Mercy comes alongside families whose children are permanently and severely disabled, battling cancer, or dying despite valiant medical efforts. My kiddo just had a cut ear…where we going to be welcome there? Weren’t our problems too small?

I drove down with trepidation and the assistance of a phone call to my mom (not for me but for other three, she had sat next to stitching up doctors numerous times). She reassured me that he was going to be okay and that I should calm down. I parked in the visitors garage as I had the numerous times I had come as a visitor. This meant Oakley and I walked through two blocks of the hospital from the inside to find the cheery and not-too-busy emergency department.

While walking through the maze of halls at CMH, the full weight of how small our problems were was upon me. Passing children in wheel chairs, parents stricken with grief and others weary of the long haul that is a kid with a terminal illness, the yells of a code blue down the hall, and signs that read “Oncology” or “Operating Rooms”, left me once again so grateful for the seven years of parenting that I have had without incident. We are unbelievably blessed. (Later I learned, that same day while we were there, a friend of a friend’s 10 month old baby died in the same hospital of a sudden and freak malady. Unbelievable agony.)

In the Children’s Mercy ER, Oaks was registered and seen in the triage room within 10 minutes. (Bless the lady behind the desk who held him while I could go to the bathroom right when we got there. Once again, in the future, for a kid injury emergency, I’ll want to avoid the morning timing of my, drink and pee routine!) 

While waiting, I took a picture of the injury.

The before picture. Note the curve of the bruise from the side of the pot where he had slipped and caught himself with his face.

The before picture. Note the curve of the bruise from the side of the pot where he had slipped and caught himself with his face.

We were put into our own room and visited by two doctors, one nurse, and hospital registration. Oakley was his busy self walking around the room- sorting the sani-wipes he found in the one unlocked cabinet.

I had kept Drew in the loop sporadically and he knew we were headed towards stitches. I thought I would be okay but he said he was coming. I had yet to text him the photo. Already on his way, he received the text and realized the full extent of the injury I had only explained in wails earlier.

Oakley was given a gown and we were told about the mild sedation. He would be awake but wouldn’t remember the experience or feel pain. They just needed him sleepy enough to hold him still and sew. Oaks walked around cheerily until they inserted an IV to provide access for the meds.

Waiting and playing

Waiting and playing

The IV was rough. Drew was there with me and the binky and Mr. Monkey- a last second grab that would prove to be a comforting constant in such a crazy ordeal- got him through. The IV was in and he was hooked up to 4 monitors. The one band-aid looking one on his big toe was a magnet for one-year old tactile play- he wanted it off!

They inserted the first does of sedation anesthesia and pain medicine. Within 30 seconds, Oaks let out a giggle and conked his head back heavily on my chest. It would take a full three doses to get him relaxed enough for the 2 medical personnel and Drew and me to hold and soothe him through the sew up. My kids…they don’t sit or lay still easily.

On the table for stitches

On the table for stitches

Lidocaine into the actual ear tears was the end of the prep and then the sewing began. Oakley wiggled a little bit but was still enough and the doctor was able to sew seven small stitches through the front and back of the split. Right near the end, it seemed like he’d need more sedation to get him through. Instead, we snuggled Mr. Monkey closer and I sang, “Every body, loves our Oakley, yes they do, yes they do…”  It was a humbling mom moment. I don’t sing in front of people, but that didn’t matter just then. What mattered was giving Oakley an anchor to hold onto in a disorienting moment- to sing to his subconscious and allow him to rest into who he knew was close.

He did so well. He was brave and sweet and cried so little. While waiting for the sedation to wear off, we surveyed the sew-up.

Put back together- 7 stitches

Put back together- 7 stitches

The attention and care Oakley received was wonderful. We were sent home with simple instructions and the reassurance that the body wants to heal itself and these stitches would help Oakley’s ear make itself whole again.

It was now 12:45pm. Oakley and I rode with Drew back over to our visitor’s parking garage. He dropped us off and headed back to work. I loaded Oaks into his car seat- another snuggle with Monkey made the move smooth- and backed out. When I turned my wheel up the ramp I felt a big bump. Sure enough, the front right tire was completely flat. I quickly called Drew. The last thing he expected me to say was, “I have a flat tire” but it had just been one of those shocking phone call kind of days.

He was turned around and back in 10 minutes. We had a flat open spot to work within and wrestled out the tools and spare tire. It was chilly in the garage so we shut Oakley’s door while we worked; he fell asleep within the first few minutes. Having never conquered a tire change by ourselves, Drew and I worked well together and had the spare on in about 30 minutes.

We moved sleepy Oaks to the other car so Drew could take our van to the tire place by his office. Drew was driving away and asked me to double check the spare. I went to wave him off with a thumbs up but instead saw the spare tire was completely flat. Oh no.

Discouraged but not distraught, we flagged down a security car whose kind and confident officer said he did indeed have an air compressor and would be back with it. We waited for about 20 minutes. He came back with the compressor but the spare would not take on any air. He wondered if it was the compressor so he said he’d go recharge it and be back.

We waited about 30 minutes. During the wait, we creatively but unsuccessfully tried to put Accord spare on the van. Oakley was sleeping cozily and deeply so we were able to patiently think of plans C and D. It was cold and we were hungry by the time the security guard came back at 2:45. Still no luck- no air into the spare.

We parked the van out of the way and took the wheel and flat tire to the tire shop. After 5 hours (2 in the garage!), we were leaving the hospital.

The day ended with Drew being able to buy a new tire, have them mount it on the wheel, and then going back down with his dad to change the tire by the end of the day. Drew would also go on to give blood as that was a scheduled part of his day and the picture of people in need was fresh. We have been given so much, we have so much we can give.

Eli and Andi were compassionate and impressed siblings when they heard of Oaks’ injury and his bravery through a stitch up. Oakley would sleep from 1pm-5pm in his car seat and then eat a big dinner much like any other evening.

All in all, it was a really big, expensive, exhausting, emotional, long day. And all in all, we were never overwhelmed, overtaken, or discouraged. The perspective of the big-but-actually-small injury was apt given the trip to Children’s Mercy. For Drew and me, being together, working together, and caring for our child together, came naturally that day. Stress has driven us apart in the past, Wednesday, we just took what kept coming and held on together. Much like the stitches in Oakley’s ear- woven together and healing.

Feeling back to himself on Thursday.

Feeling back to himself on Thursday.

No we are not struck down but we are a bit beat up.

Taking an inventory Friday evening, the tally sheet looked like this:

Since December 20th, the Osborne family:

  • had our van hit wrecked for over $4000 of damage in Colorado (now fully fixed thanks to the insurance of the company whose truck hit us!)
  • have all been flu-sick
  • sent Oaks to the ER with a lacerated ear lobe
  • had 2 flat tires
  • sent Drew to a routine dental check up that ended with him being diagnosed with a rare dental complication that requires oral surgery and could result in the total loss of a tooth (this was ONE DAY after Oakley’s trip to the hospital!)
  • has met with a Realtor to begin the process of selling our house and buying another one
  • cheers on Eli and his Green Dragon’s basketball team- coached by Drew
  • cheers on Andi in her re-enrollment in gymnastics
Andi ready to roll for winter gymnastics

Andi ready to roll for winter gymnastics


Eli- number 8- relaxing before his next big quarter of play

Eli- number 8- relaxing before his next big quarter of play

  • cheers on Oakley as he throws, roll, kicks, and golfs any kind of ball all around the house
  • gives THANKS for God’s presence, peace, and provision in and through all.

So Oakley, that’s the story of the scar on your ear and the day you were brave, friendly, and sweet through some trauma- making me a braver Mama.


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