How do you know? There is that unforgettable sound...the one that makes you go "Oh crap..." and your spine curls up around your heart and lungs and breathing and blood circulation cease. Then you hear the scream (which happens after the long drawn out pause in which they were not breathing). The scream that is SO distinguishable that you know "Yep, that injury produced blood". You follow the noise and find the victim. They were jumping on the couch again. And even though you really really want to break out the "Haven't I told you...." you scoop them up before they get blood on the couch that their little ass was NOT supposed to be jumping on and head for the internal home triage center....the kitchen. The kitchen is the hub of the home for many reasons. Injuries are one of them. The kitchen houses all of the necessary equipment for at home emergency care; ice, paper towels, rubber gloves, hard non-porous cleaning surfaces, tongs, antibacterial spray, band aids and popsicles. But how do you know when the home care center is not going to cut it? My fellow blogger called me this weekend with that question...."Does she need stitches..." And trust me, she called the right person. I have had my share of ER visits with the three kids. We even had a run of visits that prompted a call from our insurance company. I think they thought we were kidding. Four visits in 6 weeks. Each of the kids made an appearance and one of them was a repeat offender. The 3rd time we were there I made a joke about the hospital having a Frequent Fliers Discount. Please note that health officials do not think those jokes are funny. Anyway, how do you know when they need stitches or some higher level of medical intervention? My only advice is to go with your gut. And in some cases, it may be turning and churning. I told my sister, that all head and mouth wounds produce movie-worthy amounts of blood. Mix that with the amount of tears and snot that the crying child is producing, and you have a kitchen that looks like a crime scene. I usually give my bleeders the half-hour rule....if the wound is still bleeding at that point or the patient has passed out from blood loss, chances are good that your home care attempts are not going to cut it. On the other hand, if it is a gaping wound and you can see bone, they have lost a digit or other organic matter, they are vomitting profusely or are not making sense, then you might want to skip the half hour rule and seek professional help sooner rather than later. An example of this would be when my middle child was riding on TOP of the Little Tykes Cozy Coupe car his sister was driving. She lurched backwards in an attempt to eject her unwanted car-jacker. Her attempt worked. He ended up head first onto the concrete. We heard the thud, then the delayed cry. There was no blood, no visible head wound. But when asked a simple question like "What did we just eat for dinner?" and his response, after some thought, was "Tuesday" we thought it would be best to have him evaluated. He then proceeded to throw up in my husbands lap. That sealed the deal. Even though there was no gushing blood, the situation, once evaluated, called for a higher level of service than we could provide. But the answer is not always cut and dried. As a parent, you will most likely know...and if you don't know, then better to be safe than sorry.
And as time goes on in your parenting career, or as you have been flagged by CPS at the hospital, you might be more and more comfortable with riding it out, or using at home remedies. I was very excited when Johnson and Johnson came out with the first-aid glue. Those scientists are freaking geniuses. That has saved me on more than one occasion. I carry it with me everywhere I go, because you never know when someone is going to walk face first into a chain-link fence. And as you move further into parenting accident-prone children, you tend to shift your panic priorities. Now if I know someone is bleeding, my first reaction is "Go bleed outside, I will be right there!" I mean come on. Everyone has neutral colored carpet these days. Don't bring yourself into the house! It is hard to see your children hurt. And the ER visit is sometimes more painful for the parents. Nothing hurts your heart more than to watch two grown adults hold your frail dainty three year old down so they can clean out their split open chin. But that pain is quickly replaced with the reality of "THAT TOOK THREE F-ING HOURS AND COST HOW MUCH?" Let me tell you, the stick that went through your kid's hand is usually trumped by some other emergency therefore resulting in spending at least 1/8 of your day sitting there in an ER exam room blowing up the rubber gloves to keep your child entertained. It is worse if it is not an injury that produces blood. God forbid you are there with your kid that stuck a popcorn kernel in his nose or other orifice. Not only are you NOT a priority...I think they make you wait as a penance for producing such a moron. Yep, I can say this because I have been there too. The mere thought of waiting for three or more hours makes me always consider home healing first out of pure convenience. But when push comes to shove and you are not sure what to do, maybe an ER visit will make you feel better. After all, the car ride over usually makes the kid fall asleep, therefore the crying that you never thought would end finally ceases. And at the hospital they have a pharmacy and the pharmacy has drugs. And who knows if you will need them or not, but it never hurts to ask.