Perhaps it was the little incident on day 2 of moving into our new home in Yucaipa that ruined any potential love affair between Wylie and shoes. The house was newly built: white stark walls, pristine tile, brand new carpet. We literally had no furniture as we awaited the shipment from storage to arrive from our cross-country move. My parents had given us a couple things to get by; one of those things was a unique round table that came originally from a library. It was only two feet off the ground and had a unique square base in the exact center of the table. We did not realize how unstable it was--until Wylie pushed down on one side of it…on day number 2.
Blood immediately squirted out and splattered all over the light colored carpet that only seconds ago was pristine and new. The delayed but inevitable cry was building inside Wylie’s lungs as his body began to process what had happened. The big toe (wasn’t he the one that went to market?) was smashed, covered in blood and no doubt throbbing with a pain I’m sure Wylie had never experienced before. He was only 3 years old. I grabbed a dish towel and picked him up to comfort him. Wiping away the blood initially, I examined the injury to assess my next step. It looks bad. Twenty minutes later, it won’t stop bleeding.
I begin to mentally rehearse my introductions to our new neighbors. “Hi, nice to meet you, can you keep my two children while I take this one to the ER?”
It had a nice ring to it. And, that’s exactly what I said to our neighbor two doors away. What a nice way to jump into neighborhood relations! First, I’m counting on someone I do not know with my two healthy kids. Second, I’m taking the injured bleeding sensory kid to an ER and don’t know how long I’ll be there. Pilot’s wives have many stories in this genre; if bad things are going to happen they tend to while the pilot is away.
Once we got to the hospital, day 2 didn’t get any better for Wylie; in fact, it got much worse. We were seen fairly quickly. But, it rapidly went downhill for my boy. See, this all transpired pre-diagnosis. I only knew how to care for Wylie as a typical child. Typical children are freaked out by doctor’s visits and injuries; an Asperger child is probably wanting to crawl out of his skin to avoid the sensations they are subjected to in this environment. By now, Wylie’s big toe is twice the size of the other. The attending physician explains they need to drill it out with tiny holes to relieve the pressure. Then, he will have to be seen again to determine if the bone is affected.
No one in that ER was prepared for the fight this child put up. Wylie turned into an aggravated octopus. I held onto Wylie’s right side including his arm, another male nurse had his good leg and foot, the male doctor held the exploding toe and a fourth nurse restrained his left side. With four strong adults, he still fought and wrangled and screamed until he was hoarse. His desperate tears were covering his face. All I could do was focus on holding my part of the octopus. I had to disassociate myself from the scene in order not to make one of my own. It was horrible.
The doctor somehow managed to drill the holes into the slippery tentacle he was holding. He bandaged it up; it was oversized and made out of white gauze—
it reminded me of all the exaggerated bandages I had seen in early sixties cartoons.
For Wylie, the remainder of day 2 was spent chain-smoking his fingers. That evening, he slept like a champion prize fighter after a title bout. Of course, Wylie couldn’t wear shoes for a couple weeks. This suited him just fine. And, I believe established a protocol wherein shoes are a necessary evil only to be suffered when school safety codes and decorum dictate. The increasingly popular Teva-type shoe is a decent exception to this protocol. However, the Teva has not completely been embraced by third grade PE teachers, so evil is suffered at 7:40 a.m. each school morning. Weekends are for flip flops, baby! Six years later, the injured toe is still a good third bigger than the other. A subtle reminder that some furniture is better for bonfires than business (we immediately destroyed the table), some days are better than others (most have been better than day 2), and some feet will always be better without shoes.