Wednesday, December 28, 2005

From HellBoy with Love, A Broken Nose

I had fantasies of this Christmas being very relaxing for me. We spent the week with my parents, who are generally laid-back, fun, non-button-pushing types, AND my mom gets up early and is happy to watch HellBoy while we sleep. I figured that HB would be distracted by the new toys and the doting grandparents and the snow, and I would loll about reading the paper and drinking coffee and blogging.

Ha. This is what really happened: My mom did watch the monster every morning, bless her heart. But this meant that she was so worn out by the time I got up that she was basically useless for much of the rest of the day. My stepdad is good with somewhat older kids, but he finds toddlers irritating (and honestly, who doesn't?). He did read some books to HB, and take him for brief forays outside, but that added up to about 30 minutes a day. Then my mother would watch HB while TrophyHusband and I went for a run, which was also much appreciated.

This all totalled about 3 hours a day being off-duty (but really, who's counting? Me, that's who). Plus the 90 minutes of nap time, that left ten or so hours a day of trying to keep HB from destroying everything in the house. The toys were distracting for about ten minutes at a stretch. My folks had tried to childproof a little, but there's no way to childproof a Christmas tree, bookcases full of CDs and framed photos, nice furniture (when did they start getting nice furniture, anyway?), cats, computers, plants, etc., etc. And TrophyHusband needed to get some work done, which I tried to let him do because I felt a little guilty about dragging him to my family's for Christmas for a whole week.

And I had forgotten that HB really doesn't travel well. Not just the actual traveling part, though that is notably awful, but the being someplace new. So he acts out. A lot. My parents had friends over for Christmas dinner who've tried to get pregnant but couldn't, so they are half-heartedly contemplating infertility treatment. But HB put on such a show that night — screeching, running around like a rabid ferret, snatching clumps of fur from the cats' tails, chewing on crackers and spitting them out on the coffee table, pounding divots into the wood floors with his blocks — that at one point I turned around to see the wife with her mouth literally hanging open in shock. Later she said to my mother, "No way. I can't do it." So at least we've saved someone some money in fertility treatment, I guess.

Anyway. One of the things my mother did to distract HB while we slept in the mornings was to let him jump on their bed. Fun, right? Except that from then on we had to keep our eyes on him every second (instead of every other second), because he started climbing on all the furniture and trying to jump to his death. Then the other evening, I took HB down to our room to go to bed (my parents have a split-level, with the guest room downstairs). We were sitting on the bed, HB babbling and playing peek-a-boo with the covers. Suddenly, out of nowhere, he leaps to his feet and flings himself backwards. It was too dark for me to see what was going down until it was too late.

KER-ACK!! went my nose as his noggin made contact.

"FUUUCK!!" said I as I crumpled onto the bed, clutching my face.

When you break your nose, unless you're seriously drunk, you know it. The blinding flash of pain is usually enough to tip you off, but that sickening snap of the bone is unmistakable. I've done it twice before and had hoped never to do it again, but I've been afraid that HB would manage it one day. He's split my lip a couple of times and head-butted my nose, but never this bad.

No one heard me yelling for help, so I snatched HB under one arm and staggered to the foot of the stairs, tears streaming down my face. I could barely see, what with the tears, the pain, and the fact that I'd lost my glasses in the melee. HB was howling too.

"He broke my nose!" I yelled.

Much flurry and consternation, while I kept saying, "Just take him! Get me some ice! For god's sake, take him!" Finally HB was sequestered in the TV room with my stepfather and a Baby Crack DVD and I had ice applied to my poor throbbing nose.

After a few minutes I ventured to take off the icepack and show the damage to TH. "Er, I think it's swollen on one side?" he said nervously. Swollen? On one side? So soon? I went to look in the mirror.

It wasn't swollen. It was crooked. It was pushed to the side. I looked like something out of one of those awful domestic violence awareness videos they show to med students.

"It's displaced!" I wailed. "Yeah, I know," TH said despondently.

So then the conversation turned to whether I should go to the ER. Everyone else said yes, I said no. Because I know what happens to people who show up to the ER with a broken nose: first you wait, because a broken nose by itself will not kill you. Then once you get seen, they grill you about how it happened, because the real reason has to be domestic violence (thanks to the above-mentioned videos, medical personnel are now acutely attuned to this possibility). (In my case I guess you could say it was domestic violence, couldn't you?) Finally they take a look up your nose, poke around at the place it already hurts like a motherfucker, and tell you to go home and ice it and see a specialist in a few days. Because while you can put a nose back into place if you do it before it's too swollen to see what you're doing, nobody in the ER really likes to mess around with people's faces if they don't absolutely have to. So you go to the specialist in a few days, when you're finally feeling better, and they snap it back into place then. And I went to the ER the last time we spent Christmas with my parents, and I didn't want to make it a tradition.

"I'm not going to the ER," I said. "I have to fix it myself."

So I took two of some of the really good pain meds they gave my mom after her last medical procedure ("TWO? A half of one of those wipes me out!" she said. This from the woman who can drink a Cossack under the table, and has tried more drugs than any of her kids, I think, but whatever). Then I made everyone go into the TV room and watch some episodes of House that my odd brother had been insisting we HAD to see (because we're doctors, he said, but mostly because the main character seems to be channeling my brother). We all sat and watched (HB had miraculously fallen asleep on his grandpa's lap), me with the icepack on my nose, and I waited for the pain meds to kick in. From time to time I prodded at my nose and listened to it go "click-click" as it moved a bit. I tried to get the others to listen to it, because it seemed pretty cool to me, but maybe that was the medicine talking, because nobody shared my interest.

Finally I got up and slipped out and went to the bathroom and took a look, then put my finger up to the bridge of my nose and carefully puuushed and puuuuuushed and ... SNAP! It went back into place! I was so fucking proud of myself. Also a bit queasy, but definitely proud.

Now it's still not quite right, but that may be because it's swollen and a bit greenish. I can breathe just fine, and the bruising isn't hard to conceal. Besides, my cold sore and my weird hair draw attention away from my nose.


Anonymous said...

Oh dear lord - that is the worst Christmas tale I have heard yet! But it will give you guilt fodder for HB for a lifetime! My mom used to end every argument with me by lifting up her shirt to reveal a mass of jiggly stretch marks and say, "Look what you did to me!" Strangely, I can now do the same to my child when he is old enough.

Amie said...

Ouch! What a way to may a your Christmas memorable. said...

Aiiiieeee! I am sorry your holiday was so non-relaxing (and nose-breaky). However, that is THE most impressive tale of self-administered emergency medicine I have ever heard. My husband will be much aggrieved to learn that his ingrown toenail-ectomy (with pliers dipped in vodka) has been knocked out of the top spot.

Why is it that watching a kid over the grandparents' house is never as easy as you'd think it would be? I took kiddo to visit my parents yesterday and spent most of the time running around saying, "No no no no no! Do not feed him any more Klondike bar!"

Linda said...

DoctorMama, you are the BOMB-DIGGITY! Plus a bag of potato chips. Setting your own nose? That is too awesome.

Anonymous said...

Niiiiice. I must say, I've been very worried that Middly will break my nose one of these days (so far he's split my lip a couple of times and bonked my nose some good ones, but no breakage). Big Child actually did break my nose and my glasses with his big giant head once (while I was having a Pap smear with him sitting on my chest, no less); no displacement, though, just a crack. But this? Blehhhhh...I'm writhing in my computer chair like a piece of frying bacon. Props to you, woman, for having the presence of mind (on drugs, even!) to save yourself a holiday ER trip from hell. Why doesn't What to Expect From the Toddler Years mention this occupational hazard of motherhood? The bastards.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I'm so sorry to hear that. I can't believe a toddler can wield his head with enough force to break a nose. The worst my boy has ever done is to give me a headache.

And I second all those people who say that watching your child at someone else's house, even your indulgent parents', is hell.

B.E.C.K. said...

Oh, honey!! I read your story with every clenchable part of my body tightly clenched. You are one step away from being able to deliver your own baby in a field and return to work an hour later. Good heavens, woman, I am in awe. (And I hope you swiped more of those super-duper pain meds to use at home.) Dang, dang, dang. Are you still going to see a specialist?

Orange said...

Ben used to hurl his head into mine—never gave me a bloody nose, but more than once he did manage to whack my hearing aid and thereby give me a bloody ear. Holy crap, your broken nose must've hurt!

Am I the only one who's picturing you as Marcia Brady after the football hit her in the nose?

My mother-in-law collects Waterford crystal and likes to keep it on the coffee table and end tables where any toddler can reach it. It was hilarious that one time that Ben came out of the living room and into the ceramic-tiled foyer holding a crystal bowl! I done tol' her to childproof that house—woulda served her right if he smashed it to bits. (She also kept cleaning products down low. Toddler Ben poured a bunch of laundry detergent onto the floor one time.)

DoctorMama said...

Yes, I broke it twice before -- actually probably three times, but once it wasn't displaced and I didn't seek medical attention, so I'm not positive. I'm not sure why my nose has earned so much special attention. It's not petite, but it's no Cyrano.

But Marcia Brady? I am most insulted! I always identified more with Jan.

Things to add to my list of How It Could Be Worse:
1. I've never had a bloody ear and
2. I've never broken my nose while getting a Pap smear. Sheesh.

Anonymous said...

My oldest daughter broke my nose when she was less than 2 - I feel your pain! We were out at a restaurant with steep stairs which she wanted to go down by herself. When she (inevitably) lost her balance I grabbed her and she flung her head back into my face. We were about 6 blocks from the hospital so went to the ER, where I expected to get teased but everyone who treated me had been nailed in the same way.

Toddlers are menaces to be sure. And the spending holidays in non-child-proofed homes - so not a vacation!

Anonymous said...

Heh heh heh...yeah no dignity whatsoever. And my OBGYN almost lost an eye, too, but that's okay cuz it was HER bright idea to let the baby sit on my chest, the bitch (actually she's my friend, but still, she could've waited until she left the ROOM to laugh).

Mignon said...

Oh my! I am simultaneously cringing and feeling impressed. I will not soon forget that image of you setting your own nose. How fitting that you recently posted on bloody nose fixing?
The worst I get is sharp baby nails. My baby is in the flailing while nursing stage and he and I are both starting to look like Edward Scissorhand.

Anonymous said...

*shiver* i had to reset my own broken pinky-toe a few months ago...luckily I was drunk when I did it. I can not imagine resetting a nose.

panamenya said...

I was in a car wreck once where the airbag hit my face. I looked in the rear view mirror and noticed the same thing you did -- I had a lump on one side. I've had a rhinoplasty a couple of years prior which cost me a pretty penny. I was very upset and I didn't even think -- I just pushed it back into place until it looked right again. I can't even tell you if it hurt because in all honestly I don't remember. All I remember thinking was, "I paid WAY too much money for that nosejob to have it go to waste now."

Kudos to you for fixing it yourself.

Anonymous said...

Yikes! Thank goodness for your knowledge and skills.

So, if we are not to go to the ER, and we lack your ability to fix it ourselves, what do we do?

I like this line:

This from the woman who can drink a Cossack under the table

Then I realize this is a post about your nose. The theory is I have a Cossack nose, a gift from a Cossack who raped an ancestor of mine.

A wonderful boy I knew in my teen years (whom I now sometimes imagine I had married) had what I thought was a cute nose. He explained to us once that he had broken it (or it had been broken for him by his brother perhaps?), and the doctor told him it would have to be broken again in order to reset it, so he said no thanks.

Orange said...

I was recounting The Tale of DoctorMama's Nose to my husband last night. I forget his exact wording, but the gist of it was that you are one tough mofo!

Psycho Kitty said...

Woaah. Hey! Our kid broke my Ex's nose like that one year...about 10 minutes before he was supposed to go meet his brother's international flight at the airport an hour away. Good times!

Anonymous said...

Sorry to read about your it's better now, a few months down the road.

As I was reading your post, I thought glad my 23 YO daughter didn't do anything like that to me...then realized there was the time we were in the pool, and she was on my back, I was throwing her up and letting her land in the water. Only the last time she didn't land in the water, her chin landed on my head. I tried to give her a hard time, saying she didn't land in the water, and she hit my head, but she wasn't buying it...something about "Dad, you were throwing me away from you, and that time you didn't!" Poor kid had her first stitches on her chin that afternoon. Got lucky, and asked the Dr. if there was any other way besides an injection, and they put a soaked cotton ball on her chin for a while.

Your blog is a blast to read...insight into what goes on behind closed doors at my Dr.'s office. Thanks for the read.


Anonymous said...

Was googling "toddler broken nose" because mine seems to have broken his then came upon your tale of woe. This same broken-nosed boy broke my nose when he was 14 months old and jumping on the bed. The sound was quite distinctive and for about 6 weeks afterwards I jerked back reflexively when anything came near my face. The only good outcome of this is that my glasses have never fit comfortably on the bridge of my nose and now they have a nice little ridge to sit on.

Anonymous said...

whoa, u snap ur nose back into place..way to save on medical bills! I got my nose broken from a fight and i havent fixed it.

DoctorMama said...

Since I don't want people using my blog for free advertising, I delete spam posts. But I'm not sure if the following were pure spam, so I'm repeating the comments and deleting the links:

spammer 1 said: "It's amazing... yeah it's amazing the quantity of time you spent writing this crap story. Before, you wrote interesting stories but now is different, anybody cares about a mother watching HB and all the stupid things you mentioned. Please write stories, not "crapstories"."

spammer 2 said: "I should admit I agree with viagra online, I mean, as it said anybody cares what this boring mother do for her life. You are wasting your time if you thing somebody is gonna be interested or pleased to read this bullshit."

Just trying to stick by my convictions here ...

mamagonekrazi said...

I cant believe you snapped your own nose back into its place!
By the way what is it like to watch "House" as a doctor? I always wondered!!!

Aleksandra Nearing said...

LOL I finally read this all the way through. My husband was googling "broken nose child ER" a few weeks ago because outr sweet, angelic non-HB 2.5 year old face-planted into a cabinet and her nose was horribly swollen. Luckily it went back into place. Hopefully yours has, too :)