On Saturday last week, Charlotte and I had a lovely daddy-daughter outing around Phnom Penh. We stopped by the office on the way home to pick up a bike and, as the guard did some last minute maintenance on it, Charlotte took off her shoes. This is where I messed up – as we started home I let her ride on the back of the bike behind me without putting her shoes back on.
We were almost home when Charlotte, who was riding behind me, put her heel into the spokes of the spinning rear wheel. She screamed in agony and I managed to stop quickly without either of us falling. Several Cambodians rushed over to offer assistance but this well meaning concern only agitated Charlotte more. I carried her and the bike home as quickly as I could. While Crystal gave her first aid using the mini-first aid kit (which I’d, thankfully, just bought) from my moto I rushed back to the office to get a full first aid kit (the first aid kit we brought from the US was there after we discovered, the day before, that the office first aid kit was empty). Crystal then properly cleaned and bandaged the wound while I held Charlotte.
For the most of the afternoon Charlotte was hysterical with pain and fear. It took a long time for her to calm down and she had a rough night. We called the clinic and made an appointment. The wound looked more like a burn than a scrape and Crystal treated it as a burn.
Charlotte had a great deal of fear about going to the clinic on Monday. We told her that it would hurt but that it needed to heal properly and that it was important to see a Doctor. That message did not resonate. At the clinic she rallied until we got to the examination table and then she started to panic. The staff were wonderful for the most part but they did say two things that I found unhelpful.
- “If we don’t clean it, it might get infected and have to be cut off.” That only added to the stakes and her panic.
- “It won’t hurt at all.” This just eroded her trust in us – of course it was going to hurt and she knew that.
After the initial examination we went for x-rays and that went very well. I reminded Charlotte about our friend Lance who is a radiology technician. The x-ray results came back with no sign of fracture.
Then we headed back to the examination for a deep cleaning of the wound. There was a white substance on the wound – possibly aluminum dust from the spokes – that we hadn’t been able to clean ourselves. There was also dead skin and tissue that needed removed.
I held Charlotte while three nurses and a Doctor cleaned the wound deeply. She was hysterical and rational at the same time – using her full range of persuasion skills to convince us to stop while screaming and shrieking. I managed to stay calm and reassuring – “I’m here with you. I know it hurts, this will make it heal be better. It will be over soon.” – but it was rough. My poor girl.
Charlotte was – almost magically – calm as soon as we left the examination room and reached the lobby. She told me that she wanted to be a veterinarian. After one last talk with the Doctor and paying, I carried her half the block down the road to Monument Books. There she picked out a few new books and we had a lovely time. Charlotte has spent the last week home from school and, as of yesterday, is able to walk on her heel again. It still hurts to touch but is well on the road to recovery.