I've learned something from my son's injury as I've been watching it slowly heal. Every day, since the very first day, I've changed the dressings, watched it carefully, and assessed changes. At first it gaped open with skin ripped to shreds - and yet the child felt little pain at all. Part of that may be due to the adrenaline that was undoubtedly coursing through his veins, but he never did more than wince slightly. In fact, he actually walked out with the firemen to help us look for any pieces of his arm left behind as cool as a cucumber and talking calmly.
During the first days, occasionally he said his armed ached slightly, but only once did he take a pill for pain. Most of the time, he totally denied any pain at all. He cheerfully told a nurse who came to check on him when she asked where he was on the pain scale that "well, I don't think I have ever had any bad pain, so I don't know". This was said over the ugly patched up rip of his arm!
It healed more and more. I washed it daily and eventually cut away the dead skin with sharp (somewhat sterile) scissors, and kept assessing. The kid had no pain. None. We poked the injury with tweezers all along the scarring and along the open area - no sensation, no pain.
But this week, finally, as the last open area is finally beginning to fill up with tissue, he is beginning to wince when I change his dressings. It isn't the open area of the wound yet - it is the fresh scars. He finally has feeling there. Interestingly, the feeling is not in proportion to the injury. If I rest my finger on the scar while swabbing out the open area, he jumps. If I pull off tape that stuck to the scar, he cries that it really hurts.
At first I smiled. How much can it really hurt? I mean, you're the kid who didn't even moan when you ripped your arm open! But it hurts. Because that new skin is tender. The scar line is sensitive. And I need to be cautious there.
Next week, the open area may close, and then we will move from dressings into ways to decrease scar tissue. But for now, I need to realize that he is sensitive where he has healed.
That knowledge helped me this week. I have two different areas of significant scar tissue on my heart - newly healed up, or at least almost healed. I'm tender there. These last weeks, two different things happened that caused significant trauma to those tender areas. Two separate scars injured within days of each other. And I reacted in sudden shock and pain... perhaps out of proportion, someone watching might say, to the injury... but it HURTS!! It hurts more than it may hurt another because my scars are so fresh, so tender.
It still hurts. I am calming, though, a little. Maybe. I really don't know yet. I'm extremely protective of those scars right now, tense as a wounded dog, as highly strung as a rabbit in a clearing. But I am beginning to understand that the injury may not be as bad as the sensation... will it help? I doubt it, really. I will be ten times as likely to protect those scars the next time around, but I will understand perhaps why I am doing it.
And then, life is not calming down. This year, life has been much like being caught in the surf against rocks. One wave hits right after the other and we just don't have time to get our head above water and our feet on the ground before we get tossed in the surf again.
I just want to catch my breath. But no, today more news... more, again... not again.