Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Stairs Incident

What I'm about to tell you happened approximately two months ago.

In years past, I would have sat down and blogged about it mere hours after it occurred.

Now . . . it has taken me this long and I had to convince myself to do it at all.

It was a Friday night. We had ordered our customary pizza dinner and were preparing to eat it. Sarah had her neighbor friend over to spend the night. Our neighbor was downstairs just getting started on the basement renovation project that we had hired him to do for us. Lynda was arriving home from work.

I got the pizza on the table, with the plates, drinks, and napkins. Sarah and S. sat down and started eating. I also sat down and had a slice myself, talking to the girls. Grace was about to also sit down and eat but she was playing with our neighbor's daughter, who was hanging out while her dad worked downstairs.

In short . . . there was a lot going on.

Lynda came home and saw that C. was working in the basement. She decided to go down and talk to him about how things were going, what the renovations plans were, discussing a scheduled visit by insulators that he had recommended. She left the door to the basement stairs open.

I was sitting at the kitchen table, in full view of the basement entrance, eating pizza and joking with Sarah and her friend.

And where was Hannah?

. . .

She had been playing on the ice cream truck. That blasted, plastic ice cream truck that the kids have sat on since Sarah was little and pushed themselves around the house with their feet. And with just about every push, they run up against the plastic handle that serves at the "throttle" of the truck, which never fails (though I don't think we've EVER changed the battery in this thing) to unleash its loud, piercing VROOM noise. And don't forget all of the buttons that launch out random songs or weird sayings.

In short, I have a strong aversion to this ice cream truck.

And Hannah was enjoying it to the hilt.

But it's not the ice cream truck's fault, really. (And I think it ended up being helpful in the end, as you may see.)

Hannah rode the truck around, looking for Mommy. And, somehow, over the din of the electronic truck insanity, she discerned that Mom was downstairs in the basement. So, as any good, imprinted daughter will do, she pushed her ice creamy way over to the entrance to the basement, parking herself at the top of the stairs. She called down to Lynda and Lynda didn't hear her, intent as she was with her conversation with C. about the construction and plans and insulation estimates and whatever else. Hannah called again and Lynda may have called back up that "she'd be up in a minute," but that may be completed conjecture on my part, as I wasn't paying the slightest bit of attention. I was goofing around with Sarah and her friend at the table (only three feet away from the open basement door, mind you.)

Then something made me get up and head to the front door, moving me further away from the developing action. All I know is that as I was standing in the hall, I heard the unmistakable sound of plastic truck wheels bouncing down a stair. Then I heard a crashing impact . . . and then the wailing began.

I turned around and got down the basement steps as fast as I could, and Lynda was already there at the stairs feet, seeing Hannah on the ground, screaming in fear and pain. We both picked her up and started to assess whatever damage we could see.


She was spitting blood out of her mouth, but I couldn't see a cut anywhere. Her teeth were all there, so we figured it must be coming from her busted top lip. (It wasn't, exactly, as we'd learn later.). I ran back upstairs to get a wet towel to start cleaning her up and we started strategizing with each other about what to do. We knew we'd need someone to watch the kids at the house while we headed to the Urgent Care or the ER or wherever we were going to go. Luckily, C. was there and we called M. and asked her to come over as well. They readily agreed and we threw on shoes and coats and headed out the door.

Hannah was still crying, but the blood flow was slowing down. We couldn't tell where it has been coming from in her mouth, but I was more concerned with keeping Hannah talking to ensure that she wasn't going into shock or slipping into unconsciousness or something that might mean a bigger problem. Lynda and I determined that we didn't need to go to the ER or the hospital and chose the Urgent Care instead. We figured we'd get seen faster that way, as long as Hannah's condition remained less visibly critical.

But, visible was an issue. We had a wet wash cloth to clean the blood off of her face, but she already had some blood on her shirt. I was worried that people would take one look at us and figure we'd been beating Hannah or something. And I was worried that if we kept telling the nurses and doctor that she'd fallen down the stairs, they might also jump to the wrong conclusions. But we had to tell the truth to ensure proper care. In the end, nothing but the right things happened and I watch too much serialized TV drama.


By the time we got to the Urgent Care, which was only a five minute drive from our house, Hannah was entirely calm again. She looked banged up, with a cut lip and a bloody shirt. But she wasn't crying any more. In fact, once we got in the waiting room with the other sick children, she wanted to wander off and play with the other kids, just like nothing at all had happened fifteen minutes ago.

This introduced another worry, to accompany the one I had about people misinterpreting why we were there. Now I was worried that Hannah might get blood on someone else and what might happen if that occurred? Looking back on it, I don't really know where this blood was going to come from, as there wasn't any more blood flow occurring at this point, and the stuff on her shirt was dry. But these were the things I was thinking.

Eventually we got back and Hannah's vitals were taken and she seemed very fine. And when the doctor gave her a look, she told us that the blood had been the result of a tear of that bit of skin that holds your top lip to your gums.*


And then, it was over. And we were home. And Hannah was better. And now it seems like it never happened.

But she still rides that infernal ice cream truck. And she sometimes remembers riding it down the stairs. But I believe that the truck actually saved her accident from being much worse. In my mind's eye, I see that she successfully rode the truck in proper position for the top third of the staircase. Perhaps she even thought she could pull it off in that brief split second? But then something bumped and she started to flip, with the front of the truck (and her) going down and the back end of the truck flipping up into the air, creating  a somersault. So . . . perhaps in the second third of the stairs she was actually airborne and not in contact with the stairs or the truck at all? And as she flipped, maybe the truck shielded her from the stairs in that bottom third as she crashed to rest on the carpet below? Who knows, really . . . but that is the way I need to imagine it.

Maybe I need to tolerate that stupid truck a little bit longer . . .

* (Apparently, this type of lip connection is generally called a "frenulum." If you want to know more search the word, but be careful with what search data comes up. Remember that we're dealing with an anatomical category of "lips" which don't ONLY exist on the face. Say no more, say no more.)