The dream caused me to sit straight up in bed and I could barely breathe. I struggled to figure out what was happening and process the image in my head. It was the middle of the night Friday night and I didn’t want to close my eyes again and continue the dream. I only remember the end – Ruslan was walking along the top of a high wall. There were lots of other adults around but no one seemed to care that he wasn’t safe. I started to run toward him as he fell over the side of the wall. There was a women standing right there and she did nothing to break his fall. I was screaming and running toward him as he hit the ground – and that’s when I woke up. The scene has been playing over and over in my head since then.
I was out of town last week and Scott and my mom did a great job taking care of the kids. I was so excited to come home on Thursday; I didn’t even mind getting up at 3am to catch the first flight out of Nuremberg. It was still the middle of the night in Pittsburgh when I made my connection in Frankfurt, boarded my 2nd flight of the day and headed back to the U.S. I landed in Chicago 9 hours later and called Scott. He had just received a called from daycare – Ruslan was sick. Now I really wanted to be home so I could hold him and see what was wrong. When I landed in Pittsburgh I had this picture in a text from my mom.
Friday morning Ruslan had a low fever but otherwise seemed fine so I debated if I should take him to the Drs. I decided to err on the side of caution since I had been gone all week. I felt horrible dropping Wyatt off at daycare, he was sad that Ruslan got to stay with Mommy. We arrived at the Drs office with 5 minutes to spare in the morning walk-in hour. I explained the symptoms and she looked him over noting that his throat was a bit red. She decided to do a strep test as a precaution but mentioned that they are seeing lots of random fevers and told me fluids and rest if the test was negative. I expected the nurse to come back and tell us we could go but she didn’t. I was surprised when the strep test was positive and relieved that I decided to bring him to the Drs. It’s kind of amazing that we have had this many years of daycare without strep throat until now.
Ruslan stayed close the remainder of the day. He would play with his cars for a few minutes and then come running to sit on my lap for a while. When it was time for him to nap I gave in to the exhaustion and went to sleep as well. I was awakened from a deep sleep by the doorbell – Juliana was home and locked out the house…I set an alarm and should have been awake but I had shut it off.
Saturday afternoon the antibiotics had kicked in and Ruslan was back to normal. I had trouble falling asleep that night when I heard him coughing even after I checked on him and saw that he was fine.
2 weeks ago I sat down to write an update on Ruslan’s arm; 6 months have gone by since his injury. I wrote several drafts and deleted them all. In the process I read the updates that I wrote last September. I still feel sick when I think about that day – how could someone have been so careless, how could this happen in a place where he is supposed to be safe, and why wasn’t I there to protect him?
We kept his arm wrapped during the day for longer than necessary so it was covered until the weather was cooler and he was in long sleeve shirts every day. Now that the weather is warm again we face the worst enemy to his arm healing completely – the sun. Once he is wearing short sleeve shirts his arm will need to be coated in high spf sunscreen to protect it. I will be buying long sleeve swim shirts for him to wear in the water this summer and we will need to pay extra attention to keeping sunscreen on his left hand.
The burn specialist told us that we would have a good idea of the permanent effect of the burn after 8-9 months so we still have a few months before we will see the physical long-term impact. I think that most people would look at his arm and not notice anything. The bottom half of his arm looks normal and all things considered the top half of his arm looks pretty good. The only sign of the injury is the color change on the top part of his arm. The skin is darker pink just above the elbow and then fades back to pale pink. I am so grateful that it isn’t worse; the damage could have been so much worse. I look at it every night as I rub the vitamin e lotion on his arm and pray that the discoloration continues to fade. I hope that the physical damage continues to improve and I wish that there was a lotion to heal the emotional wounds.
A few weeks after his injury I was carrying Ruslan in the kitchen and I stopped at the fridge to fill my water glass. The water sprayed and landed on him and he started screaming. Obviously the water was cold and didn’t hurt him, but it reminded him of the accident and he cried for a long time. His bath water is much too cold for my liking but he freaks if it is the slightest bit too warm. And warm is too hot for most of his food – he will let it sit until it is almost cold and then eat it. I expect that over time his fear of all things warm will decrease.
I was rarely away from Ruslan in the first 5 days after the accident, even when he was sleeping I checked on him constantly. I was physically ill the first time I had to leave him for the day so I could work, I hated being away from him. Even now I start to get nervous when he is away from me for more than a few hours. Leaving him (and Juliana and Wyatt) for 5 full days last week was very difficult. I felt incredibly guilty that I wouldn’t be there each morning and night.
I know that kids get hurt and they get sick and it would be impossible for me to protect them from everything, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling horrible when they need me and I am not there. I guess revisiting Ruslan’s injury and then leaving home for almost a week and returning to a sick child was too much for my mom brain to handle. I need to use more energy focusing on my happy little boy who is content to spend hours each day pushing cars around the playroom and parking them in nice straight lines.