My son cracked his head open with a lamp. My wife’s reaction to his head wound was unusual but surprisingly typical.

Our boy pulled a lamp down onto his head last night, necessitating a trip to the emergency room.

A little glue and some Steri-Strips, and he was fine. He’ll have a scar in almost the same place where his father got his first scar at about the same age.

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Of course, because it was a head wound, it bled like hell. And though Charlie was chill at the hospital (to the point that every nurse and doctor commented on how calm he was, even as the glue was being applied), we also weren’t sure if he had a concussion or any other injuries.

It was a big lamp.

Here’s the thing:

My wife is the best in an emergency. Truly. I was outside on the front lawn with the dog when it happened. She opened the door, poked her head out, and said, “Matt, I need you right now.”

Calm. Relaxed. As if she was calling me in for dinner. 

At the moment, blood had already soaked through one wash cloth and Charlie was screaming like the world was coming to an end.

Elysha didn’t panic. Didn’t even seem worried.

I walked in. Saw Charlie covered in blood. Before I could speak, she explained what happened and set me in motion. “Get my shoes. I’m calling the neighbor. Then the doctor. We probably need to go to the ER.”

She was even smart enough to reroute us to the emergency room slightly farther away that gave us the best chance for quick treatment and a timely exist.

She even remembered her knitting. Gave a nurse a knitting lesson while we waited.

She performed similarly a couple years ago when Clara was having what we thought was an allergic reaction to peanuts. Pulled the car over in a construction zone. Flagged down a police officer. Then flagged down a passing ambulance. Got herself, Clara, and my infant son at the time onboard. The whole time remaining calm.

The ability to remain calm in situations like this is a rare thing, and its value cannot be understated. I tend to be a fairly calm, extremely cerebral person in the face of emergency (a girlfriend once accused me of being emotionless because of my failure to panic in the face of danger), but I actually think that Elysha is calmer and even more cerebral than me.

And based upon his reaction to the thing, Charlie may be the same way.

From lunacy to reason in just three days

On Saturday we were back at the emergency room with our daughter after a less-than-pleasant ambulance ride two days before. The dreaded hives had reappeared, and unaware that this was not a continued reaction to a peanut allergy but simply a virus, we sped to the hospital in fear of the onset of anaphylactic shock.

The doctor sat down with us, explained that the return of the hives was probably indicative of a virus (especially since we never found any evidence that Clara had come into contact with peanuts), and gave her a little Benadryl.

Within the hour, we were on our way.

It’s interesting how quickly your attitude in regards to parenting can shift.

On Friday, we were panicked. Terrified. Out of our minds. I wanted to stick my daughter in a hermetically-sealed bubble and never allow her to come into contact with the world again. I yelled at emergency room doctors when they told me that the ambulance hadn’t arrived yet. I set an alarm that night and woke up every hour, on the hour, to check on her and ensure that she was okay. I considered sleeping on the floor beside her crib.

On Saturday we left the emergency room as changed parents. At least I did.

Still vigilant in terms of Clara’s peanut allergy and still wary of her breaking out in full body hives again, my attitude in terms of the hermetically-sealed bubble and the round-the-clock observation was gone. I had learned a great deal during the two days that I feared for my daughter’s safety.

Kids get sick. Viruses exist. Peanut-allergic kids sometimes have reactions to peanuts. In almost every case, things turn out okay. When they don’t, it’s usually the result of underestimating the problem and not reacting quick enough. 

Having dealt with my bee sting allergy for most of my life, I know I would never underestimate the dangers of anaphylactic shock. My wife acted almost instantaneously to what she perceived to be a peanut allergic reaction, and I know that I would have done the same.

That’s all you can do. Almost every time, things will turn out fine. 

But living with my allergy has also taught me that you cannot live in constant fear. Life in bubble isn’t any fun. 

Instead of driving home and resting for the remainder of the day, we went to a folk festival instead. An hour after being examined by an emergency room doctor, this is what my girl was doing.

Thank goodness for a little perspective.