I’d planned to finish up the script for the second issue of Blood Bowl: Killer Contract this weekend, but I had to deal with something else instead. I coach indoor soccer at the local Y for my three youngest sons: Pat, Nick, and Ken. Normally, the worst trauma of the day involves kids whining about where I ask them to play. This Saturday, though, was far worse
(My apologies for writing about this here, but I need to get it down and out of my own head somehow. Skip it if you like. If it must bear upon writing or my career—which is what this site is mostly about—consider it a point about how impossible it is to plan for the way life can screw up your best-laid plans.)
Just as the game was about to end, a kid on the other team shoved Ken as they were going for the ball. Ken fell over and smacked his head on the tiled wall. I was on the converted basketball court with them, less than 10 yards away, and I saw the whole thing.
I heard Ken’s forehead hit the wall, and I knew it would be bad. He turned over as he fell, and I could already see the red split in his forehead. It looked like an empty socket for a third eye. Then, as he landed, he rolled over onto his knees.
I dashed over and slid to a sit, then scooped him into my lap and turned him over, cradling him in my arms. It wasn’t a clean cut. The impact looked to have shoved some of the skin up under the wound, making it gape. I put my hand over the wound to stop the bleeding—head wounds always bleed like crazy—and hugged him to me to comfort him.
There are few things less fun than trying to stop your kid’s bleeding with your bare hands. The team at the Y did a good job of clearing the court and helping me with the first aid right away, giving me a wet towel to use instead of my hand. Ann was downstairs watching Helen’s gymnastics class with Marty. The ref ran down to get them while the Y’s sports coordinator taped a rectangle of gauze over Ken’s injury.
By this time, though, the bleeding had mostly stopped. Ken didn’t cry much at all. After shouting in pain for a bit, he stopped to tell me, “It hurts, Daddy. A lot.”
I took Ken to the ER while Ann gathered up the other kids, minus Helen, who she sent to play with a friend. After I got him checked in, she showed up, and we swapped out. She helped him through the stitches while I brought the other boys to a fundraiser at a local department store at which Marty was scheduled to sell coupons. This benefitted KFAD (Kids Fun and Drama), the children’s acting troupe he trains with.
While Marty charmed the customers, Pat and Nick wanted to pick out a toy for Ken, so we wandered around the store until we found something right. This ended up being a Superman action figure in a toy spaceship, plus a cheetah Beanie Baby, which they knew he would love.
After that, we raced off to Marty’s indoor soccer game, which was thankfully injury free. With all that done, we drove back to the ER and found Ann and Ken pulling away as we scooted in. We all stopped, and Ann told me that Ken had taken six stitches across his forehead and been as brave as she could have hoped about it.
When we got back home, we fed the kids. Ken threw up straight after, and the flesh under his stitches goose-egged out. After a quick call to the ER, I bundled him back into the car and headed there again.
The PA (physician’s assistant) hemmed and hawed about it for a while but eventually ordered a CT scan to rule out any internal bleeding. No one likes to irradiate a child without a good reason, but it looked like we had one here. Ken fell asleep before we got to the scanner and didn’t even rouse as I put him into and pulled him out of the machine.
The results came back negative: no problems. Ken clearly had a minor concussion, but we could treat that at home.
Ken still couldn’t keep down even water, so Ann and I had him sleep on an air mattress in our room that night. He started throwing up again at 4 AM—and a couple times later that night—apparently unable to keep down even the saliva he’d swallowed while sleeping.
Sunday morning, Ken felt better. He kept down some Pedialyte (Gatorade for sick kids) and a Pedialyte popsicle, then fell asleep again for most of the afternoon. That evening, he ate well and was back to his old self.
This morning, Ken went to school with everyone else. Other than a nifty set of stitches, he seems fine. He’s one tough kid, and I couldn’t be prouder of him—or happier that he’s all right.