May 28, 2013
Charlie and I took the kids for a quick overnight backpacking trip on Friday night. We had a great time, and we were anticipating a leisurely day on Saturday of working on projects that needed our attention. As we were getting our gear unloaded, the kids were playing. Charlie was using his prized swiss army knife to cut a piece of wood. The blade sprang closed and cut a gash in his index finger. Neither Charlie the Elder nor I saw this happen. Charlie the Elder came outside and saw the knife lying on the ground. He looked over and saw little Charlie hunched over and asked him what was wrong. Then he saw. As I came into the kitchen to see what the commotion was, I saw Charlie the Elder holding little Charlie with his hand under running water to begin to get the wound cleaned and to see how serious the cut was. I went to the medical kit to get supplies to tend his cut.
As he bled through one then two then three layers of gauze, Charlie the Elder was able to get a good look at the cut. It was deep, gaping open and bleeding profusely. As I got a good look at it the next day when we first changed his dressing, I saw that it started on one side of the finger tip and went all the way through the other side of his finger. Anyway, I quickly called the pediatrician, who told us to take him to the ER.
I stayed at home with Elizabeth while Charlie the Elder took little Charlie to the Stanford ER, which is about a five minute drive from our house. With my chest pounding with compassion for my little man, the most profound thing I felt was gratitude. We had just run gallons of clean water over his wound. I was grateful that they would be using sterile water to clean his wound. I was fairly confident when he left that he would indeed have to get the shot and stitches that he so feared. But, I was grateful that they would numb it. Grateful for the antibiotic ointment and sterile gauze that they would use to dress it. Grateful that we have clean water and all the supplies needed to keep the wound clean until it heals.
Grateful because it doesn’t always wind up like this, and I know it. I know that in many parts of the world, people are on their own to deal with these injuries. With good healthcare often several days’ walk away, and with a lack of clean water, these injuries often become more serious than they need to be. I look at his gash, and I ponder how long it would take that wound to heal without stitches. I don’t know- a long time. It went about half way through his finger. Without clean water and clean dressing, there is a pretty good chance that a wound like that would get infected.
So, as I looked at my little boy getting swept away to the hospital by my husband, I was profoundly grateful. Because I knew that he would be ok. Because I know enough about poverty to know that it doesn’t always play this way- the way it plays with access to clean water and great healthcare. Because my heart breaks for the mom and dad who wonder how their boy’s hand is going to heal. Because my heart breaks for the little boy who is afraid because of his hurt hand that just isn’t getting better. So, I’m grateful for the outcome for Charlie. Due to how deep the cut was, the doctor said that there was nerve involvement. He has some numb places in his fingertip. While we’re praying that the nerve re-connects, we’re sober and grateful. And we’re committed to being involved in alleviating poverty so that more kids have an outcome like Charlie’s. Poverty strips people of the dignity that is afforded to all humans as beings made in the image of God. I think one of the reasons we’re here is to be involved in bringing that dignity back- including the dignity that comes with access to clean water and basic healthcare.