A mouthful of stitches (part 1)

The human body is very fragile. Breaking a bone or getting stitches at some point in your life is not that uncommon; and if you are accident-prone, you know it does not matter where you are, accidents are going to happen. I know this to be true but not because I am accident-prone, but because my mouth always takes the worst damage in an accident.

I know that sounds really weird, but let me explain. From the time I was 5 years old until I was 20, I got more than 20 stitches in my mouth because of three different accidents (well, one was a medical procedure that I will explain later), and all of them happened in three different countries. Here is what happened the first time:

Trujillo, Peru — A windowless window

 

Trujillo House 1

Our house in the middle of our street.

In Peru, it is very common for buildings to have a random window-looking thing inside without any glass in it. I’m not entirely sure what the purpose of them was, but I know they were a lot of fun to climb.

My family had one of these windows in our house. It was inside Michaela’s and my room and was right above the stairs. If you sat on the window, you could look to the left and see our living room with the green-checkered couch and the huge mirror that stretched from one side of the wall to the other. To the right of the living room and right in front of the window were Josiah’s room and Mom and Dad’s room.

San Patricio

The window looked much like this circular doorway, only it was higher off the ground and had a ledge. Michaela is pictured here (in the middle with her hands on her face) at San Patricio, our elementary school.

Our nighttime routine at the time was since dad would work at the church at night, he would say goodnight pretty early and then mom would put us to bed. The church was not very far away, so my dad could get home pretty quickly if anything happened.

The first time my dad was called from church for an emergency was actually a few days before my accident. Michaela fell and split her chin open (her chin is her body part that is accident-prone, much like my lip). So my mom called my dad and asked him to come home from church in order to take care of Michaela and make sure she didn’t need any stitches.

Fast-forward a few days later.

Mom had just put us to bed, but I was not tired. I could hear Mom still awake in the living room, so I decided to spy on her through the windowless window. I stood up on my bed right next to the window and leaned forward to try to see what Mom was doing. Somehow I lost my grip and hit my jaw against the inside edge of the platform, forcing my teeth to rip through my bottom lip.

I began to cry. I knew I had been hurt bad because I could feel something wet running down my chin — and it was not saliva.

Mom rushed through the door and asked me what happened. I tried to explain what I was doing, but it was difficult to move my lips. The crying did not help, either.

My mom led me out to the living room so she could call Dad on the phone. I happened to glance at the big mirror and I saw that my whole bottom lip was covered in blood. I quickly turned away, but I was still frightened by the image and began crying even harder.

I have to hand it to my mom; she remained very calm throughout this entire crisis. Her tone was even calm when she called Dad on the phone.

“Hey Rich, you need to come back home,” Mom said. “Olivia hurt her lip and I think she needs to be taken to the hospital.”

Dad left the church immediately and got to the house right after my mom had calmed me down and gotten me to stop crying. However, when my dad came up the stairs and saw the gaping hole in my lip, he was anything but calm.

“Have you seen her lip? She bit completely through it! We need to get her to the hospital now!”

So I stretched out in the back seat with my mouth facing upwards so that the bleeding would stop. I do not remember much of the car ride, though, because I fell asleep. There was one time I woke up and looked out the window and saw some cars parked on the side of the street. But I quickly went back to sleep.

The next time I woke up, I was in a completely white room. I was sitting in a chair and there were some doctor’s tools next to me. There was also a man in front of me completely dressed in white and when he saw I was awake, he grabbed a syringe. This made me panic. I do not like needles and to my knowledge, I did not need a shot (I did not realize it was supposed to make me sleep). I screamed for my parents and just before I fell asleep, I noticed a dark window in the top right-hand corner of the room.

The next morning, I was back in bed. My parents told me the man I had seen in white was a plastic surgeon and he had sewn dissolvable stitches on my lip. I ended up with five stitches on the outside of my lip and about 12 stitches on the inside.

They also told me that they had been waiting outside the room the whole time. Dad even said he stood up on a chair every once in a while and looked in through the window that was in the top corner of the room just to check up on me.

A few days later, I had my Kindergarten graduation. I remember my stitches were still very visible, so my mom had to put a lot of makeup on my lip just to cover it up!

Kindergarten Grad

The purple-ish spot on my lip is where my mom tried to cover my stitches for my Kindergarten graduation.

So that was my first experience with getting stitches in my mouth. I will post the second story next week, where I will talk about my experience getting stitches in Ecuador.

Visible Stitches

About a year after the accident. The stitches are still visible today.

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