She is our chief baby sitter. S loves her.
A couple of Fridays ago, I had an exam for my OU work. We had planned, at great length, how A would pick S up from nursery, take her home, give her tea, put her to bed.
On the morning in question, I woke up to find a text from A: “please call me as soon as you get this, don’t worry what the time is; I’ll be awake all night.”
My first reaction was oh FFS, she’s gone out and got drunk and now she doesn’t want to babysit for me and how the hell am I going to take this stupid exam now!
When I eventually got hold of her, she told me she had fallen off her bike on the way home from work last night, but not to worry because she was fine. She was in hospital for the moment, but just waiting for the doctors to come round first thing and check whether she’d broken her jaw. But she was sure her jaw wasn’t broken, so I wasn’t to worry; she should be out in plenty of time to pick S up from nursery later.
I told her she was a dick, and that I was fairly sure nobody wanted the Elephant Man rocking up at nursery on a Friday afternoon. I called my other sister, Z, and we went up to see her. This is what we found:
See how her jaw is all over to one side? Yeah. That’ll be where it’s broken.
From the look of her helmet, and the distinct lack of injury elsewhere on her body, it would seem that she came off her bike, flew through the air and landed on her chin. In the middle of a country road in the arse end of nowhere, in the middle of the night. Only my sister could manage such a feat.
We waited in the hospital with her while the doctors ummed and ahh-ed over what to do. After a couple of hours someone came to take her to get some impressions done of her teeth. You know when you go to the dentist, and they put those moulds in your mouth, with all the gooey stuff that oozes out all around your mouth? They did that. To a girl with a tiny mouth and a broken jaw. She was off her head on liquid morphine at this point, but you could still tell it was agony. The doctor went out of the room several times to see if she was able to get smaller plates for the goo because they couldn’t get her mouth to open wide enough.
I’m fairly sure I helped the situation by commenting once it was all over, that with the bright yellow moulding putty around her mouth, she looked like she’d just eaten a minion.
We went back to the ward, and they told us she would need an operation to fix bars to her upper and lower jaw; they would then be wired together, and she would be given vitamin drinks to suck through a straw for sustenance “for a good few weeks.” They said the operation would be later that day, and stopped giving her the oral pain relief in case she was taken to surgery.
I had to leave to pick S up from nursery, and my sister Z had to get her baby home so we left. Poor old A had about ten minutes’ peace before my mum turned up.
After my mum left, she managed to get a little sleep; then, around 9pm, they told her that actually, she couldn’t have her operation today and could go home. They gave her some pasta (which she couldn’t really eat on account of the fact she had a broken jaw) and some jelly and ice cream, and sent her on her merry way.
The following day, she rocked up at the hospital at 8am to wait for an emergency surgery slot. She sat in a waiting room, “Nil by Mouth” for hours. To start with, the surgeon they were waiting on was not in the hospital; he was operating somewhere else. They moved her to the burns unit because… well, they never quite explained that part. She finally went in for surgery at 8pm. By the time they came to put a drip in her arm, she was so dehydrated from 12 hours with no water, they couldn’t find a vein and played a little game of “stabby stabby” on her before they managed to get a cannula in.
When she woke up, there was a metal bar above her top teeth, an another below the bottom ones. She still is not quite sure how they are attached, because when the doctors asked if she wanted them to explain, she refused; she thought it would probably freak her out a bit.
The next morning, “a really nice lady” who may or may not have been a doctor (liquid morphine is a great thing) came and put some very small elastic bands on the bars, thus basically clamping her mouth shut. She couldn’t even fit a straw between the gap, so everything she drank had to be swooshed past her front teeth. The elastic bands came with spares, in case those ones broke, and emergency scissors, in case of a vomit situation.
On the Sunday evening they packed her off home with a bag of Fortisips and some bottles of Calpol and liquid Nurofen. The Fortisip is a flavoured meal replacement drink that’s not very yummy. The Calpol and Nurofen were to be taken every four hours – 20ml of each, which is 4 syringes full. 8 in total. It’s very sugary and made her feel sick. For some reason she thought drinking tomato soup through a straw in between syringes full of sickly sweet medicine would make it taste better. She was wrong. After two days of going through a bottle of each a day, we called the doctor and got some soluble paracetamol and ibuprofen, and that worked a bit better. Incidentally, it’s quite amusing to watch someone try to eat/drink anything even vaguely messy, when their tongue is trapped inside of their mouth. Especially yogurt. That one’s a real favourite.
A week later she went back to the hospital, and they put some slightly larger elastic bands on the bars. Now she can fit small, soft pieces of food into her mouth – but she can’t really chew, and still can’t stick her tongue out to lick her lips.
She goes back to the hospital in a couple of weeks to check on her progress.
Meanwhile, she’s already back on the bike – which was as luck as she was, in terms of damage. She does have a new crash helmet though; the old one is being used in her A Level Art coursework.