Friday, January 19, 2007

One Day, Two Hospitals

Young Norris (aged 4) has enjoyed visits to two hospitals today, one planned, one unplanned! First of this morning we took him to Ninewells hospital in Dundee for a check-up on his ears which was fine - even though he has lost one of the two grommets inserted last year.

The second hospital visit was less routine! I was at the counter in the Wesley-Owen shop in George Street in Edinburgh trying to find some decent materials for small group studies in the Pentateuch while Norris was bumbling around investigating things. He seemed especially taken with the sale items which were mostly garish Yuletide tat, being flogged off in January to people who aren't going to risk leaving their Merry Kitchmas preparations to the last minute.

Thinking that he was safe, I searched through the various offerings from the Christian press and was bemoaning the quality of the available studies, when Norris decided to sprint across the store. I'm not sure at what point in the ageing process the body ceases to be overwhelmed with the sudden and spontaneous need to run; however at 35 I don't have it, and at 4 Norris does. His spontaneous dashes around his immediate environment are usually fairly trouble free, however today he was wearing his big brothers shoes, which were (somewhat unsurprisingly) bigger than his feet. At full speed, his feet tangled together, he tripped and fell, spectacularly splitting open his head on the corner of a bookcase.

First there was the noise. The sound of leather-on-willow is frequently attested to have mysterious joy imparting properties. The sound of skull-on-bookshelf is equally distinctive, but lacks something of the romantic allure.

Then there was a silence. Norris crashed to the floor and lay still for a second or two. The shop also went quiet as everyone turned to look, unsure how to react.

Then there was a commotion. At the same point as the adults in the room all rushed towards Norris, he sat up. And screamed! Then he stood up and screamed. And then he screamed some more, all the while clutching his head.

Then the blood started to run out between his fingers on his forehead and to run all down his face. So not unnaturally I asked the staff if they had a first-aider on the staff who would come and assist. The staff, on balance felt that rather than getting a first aider with suitable equipment it would be more productive to panic a bit. It was good to have someone to do that particular task for me, freeing me up to look after the now frightened Norris.

Then a lady (a fellow-customer) reached into her bag and brought out a few clean cloths which we put on Norris' head to stem the bleeding. It's lovely to think that if Norris achieves even minor celebrity status in years to come, these bloodied cloths will end up on ebay.

Everyone agreed that he should be taken to A&E, but I didn't know the way. So the lady with the cloths offered to drive us there. Instead of that (I didn't want a parking ticket!) we ran towards our respective cars so that I could follow her.

The shop staff stopped me to ask me to remove my hands from the cloth stopping the blood flow in order to fill out an accident report. I advised them otherwise with some emphasis.

Then we drove fast through Edinburgh, me trying to keep with her car (a non-descript Ford emblazoned with stickers advertising the Alpha course) all the way to the Sick Kids hospital. Half-way there she stopped her car, lept out, ran around the the boot and brought out from a thermos box, an ice-pack. She ran to our car with it and gave to me. Norris duly held it to his head which meant that by the time we got to the hospital most of the bleeding had stopped. Here, our new friend, showed us the way to the A&E before driving off in to the grimy Edinburgh drizzle.

In A&E a nurse cleaned out the wound. This was tricky because a lot of his hair had congealed into it, and picking this out threatened to restart bleeding. Nevertheless this was done successfully before a charming German doctor came along to glue the cut back together. Once she was done, we were left to go. A mighty relieved Dad, and a very pale looking and rather shaky little boy, headed home with a story to tell Mum!

And whoever you are shopping in Wesley-Owen in Edinburgh today with the supply of clean cloths, who showed us the way to the kids A&E in your "Alpha" stickered car. Thank you!

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