The Amputation Bench Incident

Here is my retelling of the somewhat traumatic event that transpired a couple of weeks ago. It’s not a fun thing to relive, but for posterity’s sake and to prove that our life isn’t all birthday parties and vacations…here it is.

It’s been a few weeks and people still ask or tease me about “the bench” incident often which is just so great… I love admitting that I’m a failure at keeping children safe in my own home. Just kidding! It’s fine, it’s fine…  😉

Our 9-yr-old neighbor friend came over to play and she was sitting on the bench at the kitchen table. I decided to go upstairs and as I walked past the girls, I had an inkling that something might not be right. It was so very slight and so very vague that I didn’t give it any thought.

Just 2 minutes later I heard the bench tip over and hit the ground. It has happened just a couple of times since we bought it 4 years ago and I didn’t think too much of it. I just listened to make sure there wasn’t crying. All was silent for a few moments. Then there were three awful, loud, high-pitched screams. I ran downstairs and found our neighbor clutching her foot and screaming, “It hurts so bad!” What most likely happened, I figured, was that the bench landed on top of her foot and gave it a bad bruise. But when she moved her hand so I could see it…oh, man. Her left pinky toe was separated from the rest of her foot. Between her two smallest toes was sliced all the way through about a half inch up and open like a book. I saw tendon and muscle and blood.

My immediate reaction was to hold her foot together and put pressure above the slice in order to keep the bleeding limited. All I knew was that I needed to keep that foot in my hand and kept feeling that throughout the whole ordeal. “Keep that foot in your hand!”

I picked her up and ran her to the front door where she could sit on our stairs. I’m not sure why I put her there, it was just a gut reaction to take her somewhere “safe” I guess. It’s so interesting what instincts kick in during moments of stress.

With adrenaline pumping I told Madeleine to get my phone and then run and tell her friend’s mom to come now! Now this little girl has asthma and I was worried that she would panic and have an asthma attack on top of everything else so I was trying to keep my voice calm as I talked to the 911 operator. In the meantime, her mom ran over and since I was on the phone, I just shook my head at her and gave her a serious look.

Our friend was still crying and repeating, “It hurts so bad!” Her mom sat down next to her, me on the floor and phone, holding her foot with it bleeding into my hand and down my arm, and said a beautiful prayer…something I hadn’t even thought of doing. Immediately following the prayer, we were all much calmer and the crying stopped. She said it didn’t really hurt much anymore. I was a little worried that she was slipping into a bit of shock but the calmness never left and the pain never returned.

6 minutes later, 5 EMTs arrived. I was feeling so protective and didn’t want to let go of that darn foot! I reluctantly opened my hand and the foot was mostly pressed back together so the EMT said it just looks like a bad cut and maybe she would need stitches. Without trying to freak anyone out I tried to tell him it was much worse than a cut but he wasn’t concerned.

Her mom and grandma ended up driving her to the hospital where it was determined that her pinky toe was dislocated, broken, and partially amputated. AMPUTATED! When that bit of info was texted to me I went up to my room and cried. I couldn’t believe it!

She waited all day for surgery and ended up with a pin and a cast for 3 weeks but at least she came home with all 10 of her toes.

Since the accident we have banished the bench (just a run-of-the-mill, not-very-tippy or sharped-edge bench) and I’ve been more aware of random things around the house that could cause peril. What about Rob’s bike leaning up against the freezer in the garage? Could a kid sitting on a chair tip it backwards and fall through the sliding glass door behind our kitchen table? What about the swings and, hello!, zip line in the basement?!

You won’t believe it but when my neighbor took her daughter to the hospital I was babysitting her other kids. The 2-year-old went onto our deck and immediately started crying. There was a big rock sitting on our rocking chair and the little girl leaned on the chair and the rock rolled right off and, yep, right onto her foot! Luckily, there was only a scratch and a few tears resulting. But my nerves were shot!

I’ve never been a paranoid person, I’ve left that up to Rob 😉 and I understand that accidents can happen any time with any thing but the whole event has left me a little more aware of the potential of every day things causing harm.

I’m so glad we have understanding, kind, and forgiving neighbors! They’ve been so great about the whole thing. I can’t wait to see our friend running around, playing soccer, and swimming again very soon!

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