when a leisurely family bike ride goes bad

Oh, what a day.

It started like many others — us sleeping in and missing Church (shame on us, shame on us), waking to the sound of rain on the rooftop and making pancakes for breakfast, which we ate in our jammies around the kitchen table. After breakfast, Super Boy relaxed and played some Nintendo DS while Super Man and I chatted, played a little Bejeweled Blitz and did a little picking up. Then we ate lunch.

Around 1:15pm, Super Man commented that the rain had stopped and the sun was shining and we should go outside to enjoy it while it lasted. I suggested we take a bike ride.

I suggested this because ever since Super Boy lost the training wheels back in June, he’s wanted to go on bike rides almost every single day, and due to Super Man’s long work days, he doesn’t often get to join us. This was to be a fun family bike ride for 30 or 40 minutes before coming home, showering and getting on with our day. Super Boy had a sleepover planned at a friend’s house (it was hopefully going to be his first successful one!), and I was going to see a movie with a girlfriend while Super Man relaxed at home and finished cleaning his office.

We got ready and headed out. I suggested we load the bikes in my Odyssey and drive down to the bike path Super Boy and I have been biking frequently lately, but Super Man thought we should bike there straight from our house. OK, fine. That was a mistake!

The bike ride through our neighborhood went fine. Super Boy made the corners beautifully, and we were all enjoying ourselves. We got down to the bike path, and things started off well. Until.

Super Boy started peddling really fast.

He lost control of his bike.

The handlebars turned to the side on a bumpy stretch while Super Boy was still propelling forward.

And Super Boy went face-first to the ground.

Thank God he was wearing his helmet (we require it EVERY time he rides, and we wear ours, too). As soon as he hit the pavement, he started screaming. Super Man and I leaped off our bikes and were at his side, lifting his bike off him, carefully turning him over.

Blood dripped from his face onto his clothes and the pavement. He was bleeding so profusely it was hard at first to tell where it was coming from, and his lip was hugely swollen. He was screaming, crying, hysterical.

Super Man held him and tried to calm him down while I dug furiously through my little backpack trying to find the little packet of tissues I usually keep in every one of my purses/bags, only to come up empty-handed. As a last resort, I found a stash of panty liners in my little inside zipper pocket and figured beggars couldn’t be choosers. I held a panty liner on my son’s mouth trying to staunch the flow of blood so we could see where it was coming from.

When I pulled the liner away, it was easy to see that he had split his top lip open, bad. His lip was so swollen already, though, that it was hard to tell if he had also bit it from the inside. He was still bleeding heavily. He was also bleeding from his right knee and right elbow.

We had to figure out what to do, as it was clear he couldn’t get back on his bike and ride. Super Man said he’d ride like hell back to our house to get our Odyssey so we could take him to the ER, so I waited with Super Boy. Thankfully, as we were evaluating Super Boy, a man had been biking by and stopped when he saw our son bleeding. He said he was a former firefighter and EMT, and he volunteered to stay with me and Super Boy while we waited for Super Man to get back.

I don’t even known the man’s name. I was so concerned about Super Boy that I could barely think straight. The man did a great job of trying to keep our minds off the matter at hand, asking Super Boy what grade he’s in and what sports he likes, and talking to us about his daughter and other things. He was so kind, and told me that he didn’t think the damage was too bad. When the mosquitoes started eating Super Boy and I alive, and I debated moving Super Boy closer to the road and away from the trees, our helper moved our bikes for us while I just got Super Boy moved and settled.

Before we knew it, Super Man was there. I got Super Boy in the car while Super Man and our helper got the bikes in the back, and we thanked him profusely before speeding away to the hospital ER.

We spent 4 hours at the ER. It was apparent that Super Boy needed stitches, but the chief resident was not comfortable doing the stitches himself due to the fact that the split went from the middle of the fleshy part of Super Boy’s lip above his lip line (they called it “the vermilion border”), requiring a more precise stitching to heal properly and symmetrically. So we had to wait for a plastic surgery consult, which came in the form of an ENT (ear, nose, throat) doctor, who handles all facial lacerations at the hospital.

Thankfully, the room we were put in at the ER had a video game cart in it already, and that helped tremendously to keep Super Boy’s mind off his pain and what was going to happen. It helped pass the time in a state of less panic and fear, and that was a good thing.

When it came time for the ENT to come do her thing, Super Boy visibly tensed. They gave him some numbing gel to the lip to help take away the sting of the numbing agent they injected before doing the stitches, and he was not liking ANY of it. Still, he stayed calm, squeezed my hand and followed all their instructions. When he was suitably numb, they irrigated his lip, as he had fallen on a paved path and no doubt had some grit in there. When they began stitching, Super Boy became nervous, but soon realized that it was going to be quick and relatively painless.

He ended up with two stitches to the outside of his lip, one at the lip line and one just below it, and another two stitches to the inside of his lip, where it was discovered that his teeth had done some serious damage in the fall. I can’t believe he didn’t bite right through the lip. Thank God he didn’t though.

We still don’t know for sure whether he damaged his two front teeth — they weren’t cracked or chipped, but when the doctors pressed up on them or had him bite down hard, he said it was tender. That could just be from all the swelling, but we’ll need to keep an eye on that. I sure hope the teeth are okay because they’re his permanent teeth!

Super Boy has been such a champ through all of this. When we first got into triage at the ER, the nurse said he would probably need sedation before getting the stitches because of his age and how worked up he was at that point, but by the time he was actually getting stitched up, he was quite calm and just wanted to know what they were doing. So we avoided sedation, which was great. Still, by the time we got home, we were all exhausted. Super Boy took it easy, took a nice warm bath, rested, had a little cereal for dinner, and then had some ice cream later. He had some Tylenol, we dressed his skinned knee and arm, and then carefully brushed his teeth before putting some antibiotic ointment and a light dressing on his lip.

And then my little boy slept.

No parent ever wants to see their child get hurt or suffer. I know that this is small potatoes compared to what some parents endure with their kids. But I hope I never have to see my sweet pea bleeding like that ever again. When we got Super Boy out of his clothes before his bath, and later got out of our own clothes, I was astonished at how much blood was on them. And I was thanking God that the situation was as “good” as it was and not any worse.

with a truly grateful heart,

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