To Doctor or Not to Doctor? That is the Question

Does putting a stitch in your own child’s scalp make you a bad parent? The other day while my kids were roughhousing in the front room, Bee fell and split her head open on the sharp corner of the wall. I cleaned it up, and thought I might put a butterfly on it, but after I cut away a chunk of hair, it was still bleeding too much for anything to stick, not to mention that I would have had to shave her head in that spot, which I KNOW she would not have put up with . . . so I got out a needle and thread and put a stitch in it to hold it shut. And then, she happily ran into the bathroom to take a bath.

Mind you, she did kick and scream during the stitching process, but only after my 12-year-old shouted “What are you doing? Are you sewing up her head?!” After which the first stitch that I was just getting ready to tie off was yanked out because that is when she started the kicking. And the screaming. Good grief! So I had to start all over again.

The most screaming was done by the kids who were not actually being stitched up. My 15-year-old daughter yelled at me and then stomped off to her room and refused to speak to me until the next morning. I think her exact words were “If she needs stitches, why aren’t you taking her to the emergency room?! I’m never touching that needle again! (I used one of her beading needles, because they are really sharp)

Ok, her question may seem logical to most people, but in my defense, a trip to the emergency room would have meant trying to keep all that bleeding at bay in the van on the way to the doctor’s office. Then holding her still and keeping the bleeding at bay while waiting in the waiting room for an hour so that a doctor could then come and put a couple of stitches in her head. I had the tools, I had the know how, and best of all, I did it all in less than 5 minutes right in my own living room. Without the extended drama. I mean we had some drama, but it was really more of a mini matinee and not a 5 act play.

I know that scalps are not like the most sensitive part of the body. I remember in my old punk rock days seeing punks with mohawks bopping around with safety pins in their scalps in the mosh pit. Granted they were probably drunk when they put them there, but considering the fact that Bee didn’t even know her scalp was being pierced until my son shouted it out for the whole world to hear, I don’t think it hurt her much. Maybe next time I’ll use orajel first – I think I still have some left from the good ol’ teething days . . .


  1. Mom
    Posted February 7, 2010 at 12:18 am | Permalink

    I seem to remember my teen age girls piercing their own ears…is it possible their daughters are not so venturous?

    I think you should go to a medical supply store and buy a curved needle and put it in your first aid kit. Everyone should have an emergency “stitch somebody up” kit. As long as you sterilized the needle and used anti-biotic on the wound you should be fine.

    The potential problem if you are not careful would be infection. Tetanus can infect puncture wounds and other super bacteria can cause long term grief, so those need to be curbed at the outset. But it is my understanding that such germs are more rampant in hospitals than other places.

    Well, I for one, commend you for your courage, your moxy, and for manifesting a wee bit o’ your Scottish heritage. I have placed many a tape suture, but I confess I would be a bit squeamish about taking the needle to a kicking and screaming child.

  2. Posted February 7, 2010 at 12:25 am | Permalink

    I used my Mama Nature’s Owie Cream ~ No sign of infection so far :) I never thought about having to stitch anyone up until it happened, but I plan on getting a medical stitching needle just in case!

  3. Debby
    Posted February 7, 2010 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    You go Anji! Great job! You got my support 100%. And as far as infection, the infections people get from the hospitals and doctors offices are lethal! Bee’s immune system is used to what ever is in her home invironment so she will be fine. I’ll pray for her healing.

  4. Posted February 7, 2010 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    I’ve never stitched up one of my kids yet, but I did cut off a cat’s ear once. It was stuck in the fan belt. We put Detol on it afterwards to keep away infection, but the cat was never the same. We named it Uno.
    You are a brave woman. A cat is one thing, but your own child is quite another.

  5. Posted February 8, 2010 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    Debby, thank you! It must be working, because she is healing up just fine :) I hope I never have to do it again, but at least now I know I can.

  6. Posted February 8, 2010 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know if it’s really bravery, or just dread of having to hold a wailing child forever while waiting for all of the paperwork etc. and then knowing that they would have shaved off a big patch of her hair. . . she has already had a couple of hair disasters this year, and she was almost completely bald until she was almost 2. I don’t think I could bear that! I guess you never really know what you can do until you are face to face with the situation :)

  7. Shannon
    Posted February 9, 2010 at 5:16 am | Permalink

    Ha Ha! Love it! I haven’t had the occasion, although there are several forehead scars in my progeny I probably should have done… didn’t think it was serious enough for the emergency room at the time…
    Tried the butterfly bandages and they just ripped them off! Turned out fine with no stitches…They only have minor scarring….

    I do have the curved needles stashed away. Maybe I will get them out next time. You have given me a vision and a purpose! Perhaps if they know I am prepared to whip out that funny needle they will be a little more careful when careening about the house….