More than just a trip to the ER — Part 2

After a four hour visit to the Emergency Room, my son had more than just his first set of stitches…

Read Part 1

…While we sat with our new friends, the woman patient, and the daughter and elderly mother, we couldn’t help but feel terrible for another woman who was sitting alone in a wheelchair down the hall.

She was wrapped in hospital blankets, shaking and crying. Sometimes she would wail in agony. She had been terribly beaten, her eye was purple and bruised. Below her bandaged knee her calf was red and swollen with an out of control, angry infection.

“I think we should go see if we can help her,” I suggest to the daughter of the elderly woman. We make our way over and I ask her, “We are both Christians. Would you like us to pray for you?”

She looks up with grateful eyes and nods her head. She tells us her tragic story and we pray for her. I wish there was more we could do. I wish life weren’t so cruel. (Jackson is out of ear shot, sitting with his Dad.)

As we talk to her, Jackson is called in. Jackson yelps with relief that it is his turn but begins to cry and tremble at the thought of the stitches.

While we wait for the nurse, the daughter of the elderly woman comes over and offers to pray for Jackson too. This woman is like an angel bringing God’s touch to us all. Jackson welcomes her offer and we pray.

Soon the male nurse arrives and begins to prepare to clean the wound. Jackson is terrified and crying. The nurse is only able to drip a few drops at a time, trying to respect Jackson’s pleas for him to stop.

But after only a few moments, the nurse has to put a cast on the skateboarder sitting next to us and gives me instructions on irrigating Jackson’s wound.

“You want me to do it???” I am a bit horrified – but determined to get that wound as clean as humanly possible.

Jackson screams in pain as I push water through the syringe, trying to flush out the dirt. The daughter of the elderly woman comes over and helps Jackson breathe through the pain, like a Lamaze coach getting Jackson through his labor.

While she coaches Jackson and Phil holds him down, I irrigate his wound over and over.
I clean it for 45 minutes until the doctor arrives.

jackson-wound-1 jackson-wound-2

Now the worst begins. The doctor must freeze his leg to do the stitches.

It takes a medical student, Phil, myself and the doctor to hold Jackson down. My son screams and pleads for the doctor to stop. I am not sure how many injections the doctor makes, but it is several. The whole emergency ward must hear Jackson’s ear piercing wails. It seems to go on forever. He can scream like no other, let me tell you.

Finally it is time for the sutures. This long experience is going to soon be over. I will be almost as relieved as Jackson to get home.

Fortunately the anaesthetic did its job and the sutures are the easiest part. Jackson is in grateful shock that it really doesn’t hurt.


After eight stitches, bandages and instructions for wound care, it is time for us to leave. We say our good-byes to our friends who, except for the couple, still line the hallway waiting for treatment. We know we are the only ones going home for awhile.

It is amazing the range of human suffering my eight year old son witnessed in our four hour hospital visit.
He saw parents lose their baby. He witnessed old age’s cruel touch. And he caught a glimpse of brutality in the bruises on a shattered woman’s face.

As I tuck him into bed and try to prop his leg on a pillow to ease his discomfort, he begins to cry. “I can’t stop thinking of that woman with the bruises. I am going to have nightmares.”

“No, sweetheart,” I brush his forehead with the back of my hand. “No, sweetheart, what I want you to think about is how God was there tonight. How he had that woman there to pray for you and to help you breathe and get through the pain. How even though life can be cruel sometimes, God is there with us, comforting us and helping us make it through the pain.”

Tonight my son had more than his first stitches. He had his first real life glimpses of suffering.
They weren’t pictures on the news. They weren’t stories from a book. They were blood and bruises and bandages. They were tears and trauma right in front of him.

But most importantly, he saw a group of strangers bond together to help each other. He saw compassion and kindness. And he saw God’s love in action.


    • says

      Yes – He was so there with us. It was beautiful even in the tragedy. I can’t stop praying for my friends – esp the woman who had been beaten. Her life is so so desperate and without hope. I keep praying that God will bring people into her life to help her.

  1. says

    I wasn’t able to get this story out of my head since I read it last night. It’s amazing what goes on in the lives of others and we’re typically so disconnected. To see the connection that you saw is, indeed, a life lesson. I’m glad he’s stitched up and on the mend…I’m sure this was a lot for him to handle. While I dread the day that one of my twins needs stitches, I’m sure it’s going to happen (my son is a little nuts). I hope that there can be more that needles and blood involved in our experience. Thanks for sharing…

    • says

      I know – I can’t get the people out of my head either. It is was an incredible experiencs of community and sharing in our pain.

      And I can’t believe we made it to eight years old before he had stitches or a broken bone!

  2. says

    What a great lesson you taught your son. I’m so sorry that you son had to go through all of that pain, but I’m glad that you had so much support and love around you.

    • says

      I really hope he remembers the lesson. Life can be so terrifying at times — we need to remember that God will get us through somehow and sometimes that help comes from a stranger.

  3. says

    Incredible story.

    It’s brutal to wait in ER sometimes, but I’ll never forget taking my dad in 2 summers ago. I had settled in for our usual minimum wait of a few hours, but the triage nurse recognized the severity of the situation.

    My dad was seen by a doctor within 45min, and was having open heart surgery in a different hospital less than 12 hours later. We were lucky that a nearby hospital was able to take him – as they were ready-ing a helicopter to take him up North, if necessary. Our hospital bill? $0

    Our health care system isn’t perfect, but it works. I’ll never complain about an ER wait again, since that means the situation isn’t serious. It is a shame they couldn’t give the miscarrying couple a private spot. I had a similar experience and, although I waited ages to see the doctor, at least it was somewhere quiet.

    • says

      EXACTLY!!!! AMEN!!!

      That is exactly what we were telling Jackson as we waited — that if we are waiting it means that we aren’t the sickest people there and we CAN wait. Trust me – I would rather wait than be the one in critical condition!!!

      I too have found incredible response in critical situations. I had my father die in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. And the hospital treated us so well in our time of grief as we waited for family members to arrive and prepared to donate my father’s organs.

      Our health care system works – it just needs a bit more money. I am proud of our system.

  4. says

    Wow. Thanks to your great writing, I feel like I’ve been through it with you and I’m exhausted. I’m so, so sorry that you all had to experience that and I hope Jackson is feeling much better in every way today. But if you have to learn about human suffering so young, sounds like you turned the learning into a very positive thing for him. Hugs to all of you – may the rest of your weekend be peaceful and relaxing!

    • says

      It is exhausting to read it again for me too! I am so glad that the experience turned out so positively for us all. I think God took a terrible situation and shone in His hope.

  5. says

    What a story. You’ve written it beautifully.
    I think you should submit it to a magazine (or 2 or 3).
    (You might also add a disclaimer at the top of this 1/2 for the squeamish – like me!)

  6. says

    Adam’s at 7 was just like that..but right on the knee…shredded…..but we hardly had to wait at all….I am now really grateful for our local ER…but it is see and meet a slice of humanity at an ER….and it is humbling.

    • says

      That is good that you got in so quickly!

      Did Adam have enough skin to repair it?

      I was so grateful that Jackson’s skin was still there and the rock had sliced it so cleanly.

    • says

      Thanks! :)
      He is doing much better. He was in pain the middle of the night and I gave him Children’s Tylenol but today he is better and even went to a birthday party. :)

  7. says

    Ouch! I have five brothers and I have seen tons of stuff like this. My mom is really squeamish so I always got to do the cleaning, bandaging, and sometimes the decision on whether or not the wound needed stitches cause she just couldn’t bear to look. haha Jackson will be sore for a while, but if it’s all clean it’ll heal up and he’ll be good as new. :-)

    What a blessing so be surrounded by Christians during your time of pain. I feel so badly for everyone in your story… I cried just reading it. But, I also smiled at the way God shines His hope in the darkest of places.

    I’ve had a song in my head for a few days… Safe by Phil Wickam and Bart Millar. It might bring some comfort to Jackson. My heart is always calmed by it!

    • says

      THANKS Erica – I will check out that song.

      Too funny that your mom made you do the dirty work. I have to admit, I was a bit nauseus after cleaning and staring at it for so long. But really,all I cared about was getting that thing totally clean. Near the end I even shot out a little piece of moss or an aphid. Not sure. LOL But there was tons of stuff under the flap of skin.

  8. says

    Wow! What a testimony! That will be a story you will always remember, and your son will too! It’s truly awesome how you allowed the Lord to work through you in that situation! God Bless!

    • says

      Yes – I am sure I won’t forget and I hope Jackson remembers too. But in case we forget, I am so glad I wrote it all down. YEAH for blogging!

  9. says

    I’m so sorry that Jackson had to go through the pain, but I’m glad that he got to experience God’s love through the kindness of others. You did a wonderful job retelling the story; I felt like I was right there with you guys.

    I love that even in troubling times we can see the Lord working in our lives and the lives of others.

  10. says

    What a wonderful post.. not the pain or suffering part, but the heart of it.
    What a great way to share God’s love with your child..


  11. says

    I knew you were going in this direction and I am so amazed at your story.

    Your a Mother who taught your son that God is with us at ALL times. What a wonderful job you did!!!! Even though it was not the ideal way we would want to teach our children about having faith when it’s needed most YOU knew it was the time.

    Such a great post.

    thank you for sharing your story.

  12. says

    Janice, this touched me so deeply. I’m wiping away tears as I type.

    I just want to say first that being in America and having insurance does not guarantee a quick trip through the ER here. I wrote recently about how I took my Jackson to the ER and even though he was deemed as being in critical need, the nurse said the wait would be at least four hours. I left out of impatience when he seemed to be feeling somewhat better. I just got a bill for that visit, in which he was only triaged..never even seen by a doctor and it was $980.00

    I cannot tell you how much hope the Health Care Reform bill has given me. I hope one day we will have what you do…perhaps a wait in the ER, but at least no huge bills looming over our heads.

    As far as your post goes, I’m completely touched. I have often experienced similar moments of connection, faith and sadness in hospitals. What a strong and beautiful lesson about Gods love for your son.

  13. says

    Thank you for sharing this story with us, Janice… A true testimony of God’s love even in these tough situations. You have me in tears!

    Praying for Jackson’s leg and a speedy recovery!

  14. says

    We try to protect our children from the “ugliness” of the world but it is from knowing the “world” and knowing “Him” that they really learn how to cope. Teaching our children that THIS WORLD is not our home and will never be perfect is key to them being able to manage life.
    It is still sad to say the least, but continual communication with our children (like you did with your son) will put all things into perspective.
    Thanks for sharing.

  15. says

    Wow, Janice…this is truly an amazing story. My youngest child is 8 years old & I just can’t imagine this. What life lessons your son learned that night, wow. I just have the chills. I’m so glad that I saw your tweet & read your story tonight. You are a wonderful mom to have been so sweet to share your passion during others’ grief & to get your own hurt little one involved. Just wonderful! :)

  16. says

    I’m so glad you spoke with the battered woman. I used to work in a woman’s shelter and she probably felt so much shame and isolation being in there with everyone, until you reached out to her.

    Thank you for sharing this. Blessings on your son- May you never have another E.R. visit to write about!

  17. says

    That is a lot for a young boy to go through, although he seemed to have learned a lot. Most folks are truly wonderful. Jackson got to see this. I am grateful for HIM in all things.
    Blessings upon you all.

  18. says

    What an amazingly moving post. You wrote it so well. I’m sorry you had to experience the pain, but what an amazing lesson for your son…and all of us. I’m sure your son won’t forget it.
    Glad to hear he’s on the mend!

  19. says

    Janice ~

    This gave me goosebumps and made me cry all at once. The lesson that God is with us no matter what is not always an easy one to learn but while I wish Jackson had not been hurt it sounds like not only did God show up, you used it as an amazing teachable moment! Thank you so much for sharing!

  20. Will F says

    Janice, this is quite the story. I’ve had my fair share of ER visits, thanks to sports and many falls, but you’re so right about being thankful for what you have. I hope Jackson is feeling better!! Nice insight!

  21. says

    What a night and what a well written account of it. It must have been amazingly difficult as a parent to have your child not only in pain but witnesses the pain of others. I’m glad you helped him focus on the positive and that he is doing better as well.

  22. says

    Between my four boys and one girl they have had enough stitches to make a few quilts. Son number two has the distinction of having been to the ER the most times (eight). He once jumped down a flight of stairs at my sister-in-laws on Thanksiving day and forgot that there was a ceiling over hang. We spent most of Thanksgiving in the ER. Now that I am a Nana I hope I never have to take a grandchild to the ER, but if one of my children calls and asks me to go with them of course I will be there! Blessings to you and your son!

  23. says

    You have me in tears over here. What a great example of God’s love in action. Oh, that we could all step up like you and others did on a daily basis. What a different place this world would be!

  24. says

    While some aspects of this greatly saddened me it is so refreshing to hear how strangers pulled together to help one another. Thank you so much for sharing!

  25. says

    My heart goes out to you.. I have a young son and we haven’t gone through this kind of experience yet but I know it’s inevitable, the way that boys play.. Thankfully, God was watching over your family that night.. Take care of yourselves!


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