So today is Australia Day. Or Invasion Day. Take your pick. It is a national public holiday and features lots of community sausage sizzles and far showier events like announcing the Australian of the Year and this years recipients of an Order of Australia.
It’s kind of law that if you live near the ocean you go to the beach and regardless of where you live there must be a bbq and ideally something like a pavlova for dessert. You know, no pressure.
But in this house of children growing increasingly fractious about the return to school which was manifesting itself in the standard ways of, you know, trying to kill their siblings while driving their mother to an early grave my willingness to do anything remotely celebratory was greatly curtailed. However, I do know that getting out of the house at the time you most want to hide in your bed is generally the best time to go with the former, so off we went.
Just to mix it up we went over to the ocean pool today rather than the beach. When we got there the tide was out and the area where the lake meets the ocean was divine – shallow, crystal clear and packed with families. All the boys wanted to go there and it seemed like a really good idea. At one point Felix wanted to scale the rocks down to the water so I gave him the whole lesson about oysters and oyster shells and how, while I had not experienced it first hand, I was of the understanding that an oyster shell cut was incredibly painful.
So there we were, down in the shallows. Chasing tiny schools of fish. Cooling down instantly. Of course the Death By Sibling game was still in play with Felix and Jasper either pushing each other over or kicking water at the other.
You know that Hugh Grant movie where they have a baby and he doesn’t want to let go of his old no-kids lifestyle and they meet that family at the beach where the parents are Joan Cusack and Tom Arnold and those parents look permanently haggard and the children are delinquents? Well that family is us. We are that family. The one which disturbs the peace, shatters the tranquil ambience of happy children frolicking, the one which has every other parent appreciating their children that bit more. (You know I love it.)
And then it happened. Felix had kicked water at Jasper which had got him right in the eyes after a consoling cuddle from me he ran at Felix and performed a move that featured a jump on his back and a push all at the same time. In the first instance I thought Felix’s reaction was a standard over-reaction but then it just had this pitch and the facial expression was less acted and more, well, more real. Then he kind of lurched at me clutching his leg. And then I saw it. A massive 10cm gash across his knee, the white of the insides of his body showing and then, then the blood. Oh dear God the blood.
There we are, in the channel, Felix with blood gushing from his leg, two little boys and Oscar. And me. I’m all, ‘now what the fuck do I do?’ on the inside and all calmly collected on the outside. And people, what followed was to me what I always want to remember as the thing to celebrate on our national day. Four families in the near vicinity came to our aid.
A guy on a kayak came over and calmed me down completely, suggesting we get to the club house and get some pressure on the wound. Which were excellent suggestions was it not for the cold hard reality of I had three other children with me, it was fiercely hot and while I would not let my child bleed to death I also wasn’t about to nude up then and there to use my cossie as a tourniquet.
Some other parents helped me get him out of the water, another mum checked the little fellas were coming too, another family moved their beach umbella over him and then, while I was getting a towel from our bag (on the other side of the channel – yes people, there was running. Braless running), a cool-looking surfer dad totally took over and got one of his daughter’s (clean) nappies and put it over the wound. How freakin’ resourceful is that? We then wrapped the towel over the top of the nappy and stood back to marvel at our collective genius.
Then surfer dad and his wife send a couple of their kids off around to the beach to get the surf lifesavers to come and help us.
Then I realised Oscar was about to hurl. Or faint. Or both. What can I say, the kid is mine. So I get him back into the water to cool off and to just move away from the scene of blood and wounds.
Then surfer dad’s wife say they know Oscar and we try and ascertain from where, which results in one of those conversations of ‘maybe swimming lessons? kindy? school? School!’.
Then the lifesavers arrived on their four-wheeler. They pour some saline on it and wrap a big bandage around it, commending surfer dad on his resourcefulness.
Then we all had to work out what to do now – I had known as soon as I saw it that a trip to the hospital was unavoidable but first there was the cold hard reality of getting back to our car w/ the three able-bodied (kind of) boys and where the lifesaver’s would take Felix.
So Felix scored a ride on the quad bike up to the surf club house and I hustled the other boys back across the channel, down to the ramp, up the ramp, under the tap, along the path, into the car, to the club house (cue lifesaver remarks about four boys! you’re a maniac! look, there they all are! Good luck!), home to drop off boys and to get out of swimming cossies (look, he wasn’t bleeding to death, he wasn’t in excruciating pain and considering it was Australia Day and the beaches were packed I figured better to be dressed than in a cossie and towel if we were going to be there for hours on end. Sue me.)
Once at the hospital we have to wait about an hour (not that bad at all considering the day and fact that so many people do really stupid things on Australia Day) and then, well then I kind of lost control of my faculties.
I was fine, really I was, joking with the doctor, taking pictures of the gaping wound. Then, then, he administered the local anaesthetic. Felix’s tears/laughter-in-shock and the gripping of my hands started to undo me. Then I told him it was nearly done and STUPIDLY looked at what the doctor was doing.
Driving a needle right into the middle of the wound site was what he was doing.
Cue immediate all-over body sweats. Cue the yawning. Cue the stomach-churns. Cue the ‘oh for fuck’s sake Kim this isn’t about you” self-lecture. Cue the ‘do not faint. Do not faint’ mantra. Grab spew bag even though that means leaning across Felix. Get glasses off incase of fainting. Try and comfort Felix. Fail. Get head between legs trying to be discreet so doctor does not think you are a complete loser of a mother. Almost lose breakfast and last night’s dinner when doctor makes me look at what he’s doing so I know how to remove the STAPLES! in two weeks time. Make mental note that GP will be removing STAPLES! in two weeks time.
I start to panic that I really am going to vomit when another doctor (a young woman) comes into the room. The doctor asks her if they use these staple guns at (Royal) North Shore and she’s all, ‘oh yeah! They’re awesome for scalps’ SCALPS! OH GOD HELP ME. I manage to say something like, ‘you lot are just so weird’ and it works – taking my mind off mental images of needles injecting wound sites and fainting and spewing. I laugh that I’m about to either faint or hurl and she takes one look at me and goes from joking with me to, ‘do you need a glass of water?’. The doctor apologises that he didn’t realise how bad I was feeling. I notice even my hands have gone pale. Sweat is pouring from every single pore on my body. I’m shaking. I am fucking useless.
Then we all marvel at his handiwork. There are about 15 staples in his knee. I’m shaky but the panic has passed.
We get some extra pads and things for changing the dressing and stare down the barrel of two weeks of not getting it wet, no running, no jumping, no real bending. If it gets at all pussie, red or starts to ooze I’m to simply remove.the.staples. from that area and let the infection work it’s way out.
We’re home now.
There are photos but my stomach needs a little distance between the event and photographic evidence of the event at this point in time.
I’ve eaten two bread rolls, half a banana and an entire packet of dry water crackers. You’ll excuse me if I go lie down now.
Happy Australia Day people!