That is the title of what we deemed our theme song during my internship year. My intern-mates and I learned to just keep plugging away doing our 15-20 hour days of learning how to be veterinarians. Part of the song says, "keep on trying, you might get out before the devil even knows you're there". I thought when my son was an infant, it was a suiting theme song for the sleepless nights (and days). I might just make it the theme of early parenthood though. Last night was a particularly harsh night in our household. My skills as a veterinarian actually somewhat interplayed with my motherly skills.
Yesterday during the day, for some strange reason we don't know why, my son had a nosebleed. He came home with his shirt to be laundered but otherwise no worse for the wear. My husband and I have been burning the candles at both ends in both our professional and home lives currently so we went to bed early, in an effort to take care of ourselves. We even were disciplined enough to stop the TV show we were watching so we could get into bed by 10 pm.
At around 12:45, we heard a small, plaintive cry. I got up and asked my son to stand up and come to his door (I don't like moving around any more than I have to in the middle of the night). As I approached his room, I could not believe that he had a small cry, his room looked like a scene out of CSI. When a veterinarian almost feels like passing out from a massive bloody scene, you know it's bad. I came into hug my son and felt fortunately I was wearing a T-shirt that was circa 1980 (it actually was an old T-shirt of my father's that I love to wear and fortunately, it's color was blue). My efforts to try to get my son to lay down to help stop the bleeding (using gravity, his favorite physics concept) or to try to put pressure on his nose. Failed. Failed miserably. I then just focused on calming him down and consoling him. Ok, nosebleeds, in dogs or cats are always horrible and they always appear 100 times more horrible than they actually are. As I was trying to assess the situation, I must have said something that let my husband know the severity of the situation, so he started asking me questions. He asked me if I needed gauze. Gauze? I need a Costco supply of paper towel I may have exclaimed. Please, please don't come in here, I told my husband. He is rather squeamish and I did not want to have two medical cases to attend to. Apparently being married to a veterinarian has helped my husband get a stronger constitution. He basically just said, "Tell me whatever I need to do!" Ice pack! Paper Towel! I think I may have even said, "Stat" which is a medical term for "I needed it two minutes ago!"
My son was still not receptive to the icepack or pressure on his nose. He didn't want to lay down either because he said it would go down his throat. He was also concerned that he was going to get blood on me, (apparently he takes after his father in this department). I told him I didn't care and I just needed him to relax. I had my husband call the pediatrician's emergency hotline because I was really at a loss as to how I was going to stop the spigot, so too speak.
I thought, "if he was a cat or dog, what would I do?" Darn, I don't have medical supplies in my house, I'd squirt a little epinephrine up his nose. Baking soda can help sometimes, but I'm pretty sure up the nose is just a recipe for a disaster sneezed all over the place. No- I can't break open his epi-pen and no, I can't sedate my child. I just needed to lower his blood pressure. I snuggled him and though things did not stop, they were slowing down. I spoke with the pediatrician and she told me to be concerned about the amount of blood loss. I know that it takes a lot to bleed out the nose- it looks horrible and it goes everywhere but be it a 10 pound cat or a 30 pound human, a nose bleed is typically not fatal. She also told me I needed to hold him down and apply pressure. Well, as I said previously, the only thing that did was raise my son's blood pressure and make everyone more of a mess. I felt bad ignoring the advice of a doctor who I had just woke up in the middle of the night, but I thought clearly this person has not tried to reason with a four year old at 1:00 in the morning....
In order for a blood clot to form, there has to be slow movement of blood. That's why sometimes blood clots form in places where you don't want them to (the brain, heart, the leg) when people aren't moving around or getting good blood flow. Try keeping up with a four year old, it's difficult for a blood clot to do. If an animal (or person) has a wound, pressure needs to be applied or something needs to happen to "plug the flow". Pressure is normally the best thing to do, but when you're not able to apply pressure, slowing down the movement of the blood helps. It's kind of like if you have a dam that is about to break, having a spillway helps take the pressure off the dam, thus lowering the blood pressure, slowing the flow, allows more time for the "construction crew" or the blood clot to come in and repair. Fortunately, mothers have an innate calming effect and can help lower their offspring's blood pressure.
I asked my son if he wanted ice cream. Ice cream? Yes, ice cream at 1:30 in the morning. My husband happily obliged (I think he may have been excited I was sending him away off the battlefield). My son happily ate ice-cream and the coldness in his mouth was in close enough proximity to his nose that it did help to constrict the vessels and slow the bleeding. As things were looking better and I was thinking a trip to the hospital may not be imminent, my husband asked what should be done next. The laundry and crime scene I told him could wait for tomorrow, but I wanted our son to sleep in bed with us so that we could keep a close eye on him and make sure the dam didn't break again. I don't know why I thought about it at 1:30 AM, but I told my husband, "Don't worry about the laundry, I will do it in the morning, but can you please change our sheets?" I think initially he wasn't exactly sure where my priorities were, but you have to understand, we just got these wonderful, luxurious sheets for our 5th anniversary, I didn't want them wrecked.
As my son improved and was even starting to reach the Land of Nod. My husband, the man who couldn't even stand thinking about blood when we were dating had put nice dark blue sheets on our bed. Even though I told him he could sleep in another room, so he wouldn't be put at risk or a recurrence, we all slept a blissful 4 hours of sleep. When you're going through H--l, remember principles of physics, and that you might get out before the devil even knows you're there. Oh and I do now have some epinephrine on hand....