“I wish it was Mommy who got stung by the bee instead of you... Or "I wish it were Mommy who scraped her knee instead of you..." and so on.
As a little child I remember how much I appreciated the sentiment. Deep down, I knew what she meant. She didn't want to see me hurt. She would of traded places with me in a heartbeat if she could.
She is a Mom and it is what Mom’s do
It just made sense.
Now I am the Mom, and so it made even more sense that I wanted to trade places with Evan last Monday the day he got hurt by a sting ray.
I wish it were me baby....
I said that to him in the ambulance and Evan looked at me and said "No Mommy, I am glad it wasn't you." It was one of the many moments in the back of that rig where I teared up and leaned into kiss him saying "I love you Evan, I love you I love you...."
And I still wish it were me...
I mean a Sting Ray??
I, couldn't help to think of Steve Erwin the famous "Crocodile Hunter" who got a string ray barb to the heart and died. I remember thinking then "What?!?!"
I mean the craziness.
It was day two of our spring break journey. We had landed on Daufuskie Island just off of Hilton Head where my parents have a small home. It is the place I have been coming to since I was 13 years old. I am sure you have heard me babble about Daufuskie before but I just love it down there. So beautiful and the beach has always been one of our favorite places to take the boys. It is quiet, remote and almost always we have the place to ourselves.
|Just arriving for a day at the beach.|
|Boys play happily with a sand crab before going to try the water.|
We had been on the beach for about an hour and I had decided to wade into the water with the boys to see how shallow it was. While standing next to Evan in knee deep water he began to yell and then jumped back in fear.
"Dang it.” I thought to myself. "A jelly fish I bet." So my Mommy instincts kicked in. Ryan to my left aware that his brother was crying and heard me say the word "Jellyfish” leaped towards me and grabbed my hand.
"It is okay it is okay." I said calmly. "Let's get out of the water.” Evan was still crying but I didn't know anything. Everything was under water. My job was to get the boys out and fast. No more stupid jelly fish are going to sting my babies!
And then Evan cries a cry I am not sure I have ever heard.
"It bit me it bit me" he screamed... He lifted his leg up his ankle exposed as we get to the shore and I see it. I jagged round puncture wound, immediate swelling and blood, too much blood for a mommy's eye to ever see.
"Not a jelly fish..."
I knew it was a string ray. I knew this because my husband has fished off this beach for years and has pulled in string rays. I knew it because I had witnessed a string ray injury in Florida years ago, a woman who got stung on her big toe. That puncture wound that looks likes someone jabbed a pencil in you. It was unmistakable. That woman in Florida went into shock and passed out on the beach. It was one of the many things I was so fearful would happen to Evan.
Because we too were on a beach, a remote, quiet beach on an island, with no hospital in sight.
God, I wish it were me....
Chris, hearing Evan's cries, has met us down by the water. "He is bleeding" is all I can get out. A neighboring couple has also walked over and has offered us a bottle water to pour over his wound. But I can speak I can’t even tell her thank you. My baby was hurt and I didn't know what to do...
Yet, somehow, I did, and so did Chris for that matter and like clockwork two parents with one hurt child and another scared out of his mind child jumped into action, wrapped Evan's legs in a tee shirt, grabbed my bag and raced to the golf cart. Daufuskie Island may not have a hospital. But they have a fully staffed fire department and EMS station just a few minutes from the beach. That is where we headed. It was the longest ten minutes but we made it and Evan had stopped crying but had gone eerily stoic. I kept talking to him making sure he wasn't going to pass out on me all the while reaching back to rub Ryan's head and tell him his brother was going to be okay... One of the many moments as a Mom I wished I had arms and hands long enough, flexible enough to wrap up both kids under my protective wing.
When we arrived we were greeted by 3 firemen who once they saw was a hurt child surrounded us pretty quickly. My husband explained what happened and one of the paramedics was by our side before I could blink. They confirmed it was a string ray bite and we needed to get his leg into hot water quickly. This was the only moment I went into psycho Momzilla mode.
"Hot water?!?!" I said sternly. “No he needs pain medicine, a double dose of Motrin, Tylenol....DRUGS for God sakes he is HURT!”
But, as they explained to me calmly and proficiently, (in which despite myself, really did appreciate) hot water not only takes the sting away but also helps prevent the poison from spreading up further into his leg.
So hot water it was and hot water worked. And so did the emergency response system. Chris and I had to separate at this point. I went with Evan in the ambulance and Chris took Ryan back to my folk’s house (who thanks goodness were vacationing with us). Protocol for string ray injury especially in kids is to be seen at the hospital, get an X-ray to make sure part of the barb is still not in his leg. If it is and goes untreated or unnoticed, it could get infected.
So ambulance number one takes us to the boat dock where water taxi is waiting for us. The whole time the EMS worker has Evan's leg submerged in a water balloon like sock full of hot water which has seemed to ease his pain quite well.
|Two of the awesome paramedics load Evan up on the water taxi.|
When the water taxi docked we were met by Hilton Head Fire and EMS in Harbor Town and via stretcher had Evan up and ready for ambulance ride number two. If you have been to Harbor Town you know of all the little shops and restaurants along the waterfront. Everyone was watching and staring and giving the sad face when they saw a small kid on a big stretcher. Yet as we walked past one of the outside cafe's everyone started clapping. It was a sweet moment in what had been a crazy hour of my life.
|Evan's leg being tended too in Harbour Town.|
At this point Evan has started to realize he was a bit of a celebrity. After the clapping and "hang in there buddy" shout out from another passerby his spirits seem lifted. The ride to the hospital takes about 15 minutes and I got to ride in the back with Evan and senior fireman and Paramedic of station # 8. He was a Dad himself and told Evan he has lived in Hilton Head his whole life that he too has been stung by string ray, twice actually and that he knows how bad it hurts.
“You are such a brave boy.” He says. In between taking vitals his leg.
“I have seen grown men cry for much longer than you have over a sting ray sting.”
“Neat.” Evan replied and I was so relived and so grateful for that Paramedic who not only took care of Evan’s leg but talked to him, personalized with him, put him at ease which in turn put me at ease.
When all was said and done, we were in the ER in just under an hour from the beach. I have a new found respect for the Daufuskie Island Fire and EMS whose station we always passed and took pictures of the boys when they were younger in front of the fire trucks. The way they got me and Evan over to the mainland in such a quick fashion even though Evan’s injury was not life threatening (thank you heavenly father for that.) The ER visit was just as pleasant given the fact my adrenaline had worn off and the sight of you baby on a hospital bed with his leg wrapped up really is anything but pleasant. But all the nurses and doctors were great and one of them managed to find a green Popsicle to give to Evan (his favorite).
We also were given a full on demonstration of what is called the "Sting Ray shuffle.” In low tides, shallow water where sting ray's sometime hangout you shuffle you feet along kicking up sand to shoo away a loitering ray who really was probably just as scared as Evan when they encountered each other
Thankfully the X-ray results came back negative and just as we were about ready to be discharged Chris arrived to drive us back to the ferry dock. We thanked everyone and they sent us packing with a prescription of antibiotics and double dose of Motrin to go.
|The famous String Ray bite or "sting"|
All the while Evan handled himself unlike anything I have ever seen. And maybe just maybe the point to when something bad happens is to see the good in someone. In this case I saw the good in more than one. I saw Ryan whose general concern and sadness over his brother will always touch my heart. I saw my husband who just as scared and upset as I take over emotionally and got us to the Fire station quickly and efficiently all the while making sure I was just as okay as Evan. The paramedics, oh, the paramedic on both sides. So sincere and so nice and I was so grateful and appreciative that from now will always hold a soft spot for those guys and hope to one day go back and thank them.
And then there is the patient. Evan himself who all of six years old showed me a sign of bravery I didn’t know he had in him. Evan who we have been struggling with lately in all of his six years old "hears me roar" glory. Evan, who cries over the silliest stuff at home, stopped crying after 10 minutes. And he didn’t cry or whine once the next day when his brother got to go swimming but Evan had to sit out, his bandage leg not allowed getting wet for 48 hours. He held himself together and I saw a glimpse of maturity and calmness in him that I will treasure as part of his sweet little spirit.
And then there is the string ray, that stupid string ray who was just defending himself has reminded me that young or old, we all get stung from time to time. We all forget to shuffle our feet along, jumping in sometimes without thinking. And while I still wish it were me who got in the way of the string ray I have seen a new side of my son, my family, my love for all of them.
I told Evan this a few days later while we were walking along a small stretch of sand during low tide collecting shells. He said that he was thinking about going back in the ocean but not for a long time. I told him it was very brave to want to try, to face your fears and now we know how to shuffle we can try it again when he is ready.
“In four weeks.” He tells me exactly. I laugh and tell him I love him.
He smiles and says the same back to me. He has grown up a little bit over all of this and as I watch him put an oyster shell in his bucket I am reminded so suddenly that all the wishing in the world won’t change the fact that it was him instead of me. That there will be moments where Mommy can only do so much can only say so much that the rest is left up to them as they take step closer to yet another "life learning" moment.
"And Mommy I pick you to come with me, I will show you how to do the shuffle."
"Really Babe, you pick me?"
"Yup, I pick you because you are my Mommy and I don't want you to get stung."
That is right baby, I am your Mommy."
And at that moment more than anything I am so glad it is me.