And of our trips to the ER with our boys over the years… this one was life-changing.
My parents were here visiting for Thanksgiving. On the last day of their trip, they wanted to go visit friends and family, and my sons begged to go with them. Now I don’t let my kids go anywhere without their dad or me to supervise. But these are their grandparents, and they’d look after them the same way I would. So I let them go. And then I got the call.
“Can you meet us at the hospital? G’s been bitten by a dog.”
“I’ll be right there.”
As I got ready, I thought of my headstrong little guy who I was sure wasn’t paying attention and got himself in the path of the friends’ little dogs who no doubt yapped at his ankle. Did he need a tetanus shot? I wonder if it needs stitches. On the 5 min drive over to the hospital, I got another call.
“Are you on your way? Ok, good. Now don’t panic. Everything’s under control. See you soon.”
I heard it over and over in my head. DON’T panic means there’s something to panic about. Something I hadn’t thought about. How bad is that bite? Okay stay calm. He’s at the hospital and he’s with his grandparents. He’s in good hands. Focus.
When I got to the hospital, my mother met me with my younger son, and directed my husband where to go. But she blocked me. She led me to a quiet side area and explained that she didn’t think I should see him now. She explained that as they were leaving our friends’ house, their two Rottweillers suddenly went from calm to “pack mode”. They separated my son from the rest of the adults and they mauled him about the head and shoulders. He’s in a lot of pain and he needs stitches. Rottweillers? They had little lapdogs the last time I visited. Oh my God. I had this thing all wrong. I need to see my child.
I tried to go into the E.R. but I was met by my father and the nurse. I shouldn’t go in. They’re taking care of him. He’s in a theatre being prepared for stitches now.
Let me tell you that not being able to see your child through a situation like this is indescribably painful. And it takes everything you have to stave off the madness you feel you’re on the verge of. Hysteria is not going to help. I have to stay calm. And I have my newborn and my 5 yr old who witnessed the attack to be calm for.
It’s going to be okay. He’s in good hands.
There were wonderful people in the waiting room that day. A beautiful family who made me smile with their warm family banter and generous sense of humour. I wish I could remember their names. They will never know what it did to the pit of my stomach when they asked if I was the mother of the little boy who walked in here covered in blood. And how brave he was.
Everyone from the nurses to the visitors to the doctors told me how brave he was. He’d been attacked by two big dogs who were taller than him on their hind legs, and who took turns pushing at him with their front paws. One in front, one behind. Trying to push him down. As he explains it, he couldn’t take it anymore, and he dropped to the ground and rolled into a ball. And they held on to his head….
He needed stitches to his scalp in a few places, and to his eyebrow. Some wounds were left unstitched to allow them to be aired out to aid the healing. Gashes and hanging skin were stitched. My beautiful little boy then thanked the nurses and doctors for the great job they did – he told them he knew they were trying to be gentle.
When I finally saw him, he looked at me and he said:
“I’m sorry Mom. I didn’t mean to make you worry.”
He never once complained for himself. His first thought was for others – praising them, comforting them. Even in the middle of what must have been tremendous pain for him, when he couldn’t sleep and couldn’t find a comfortable position to rest his head, he called for his grandfather. He had something to tell him.
When his grandfather emerged from that room he had tears in his eyes. My son told him that he needed to know it was not his fault. He said that he knew that he was blaming himself, but that he shouldn’t. That those people should have had those dogs tied.
It wasn’t my father’s fault. Nor was it my mom’s. But I know that they blame themselves every day. I know that they agonize over what they could have done differently. But the truth is that they were the angels on earth there to protect him that day. Somehow my mother, who’s always suffered a tremendous phobia of dogs, managed to find the strength to dive in and cover my son completely with her body. She was willing to sacrifice herself for him. And without her… Well let’s just say Thank God for her. They pushed at her with their paws and muzzles to try to get at him, but they couldn’t move her.
She lives with the terror of that day, as does my father. I thank God daily that I was spared the sight of that. I live knowing that in a split-second, your entire life can be turned upside down. That each day is precious. And that your loved ones should always know how much they mean to you.