A mouthful of stitches (part 2)

For part 1, click here.

Quito, Ecuador – A bad car accident

One difference that many people will point out between Ecuador and the United States is the concept of personal space, and this can be seen the most with driving. Because of the unconcern, traffic in Ecuador is more dangerous and requires drivers to be more alert to what is going on around them.

Despite the increased risk, my family has only been involved in three car accidents in the nine years they have been living there. I was there for two of them and was only badly hurt in one.

It was a Sunday in Quito and I was in eighth grade. We had just finished church and my parents informed my siblings and I that we were going to take some friends home.

Our car was a seven-passenger Chevrolet Zafira with the two seats in the back that could be folded down into the floor in order to create more space in the trunk. On this particular Sunday, we had the chairs down because we had needed the space earlier in the week and had not pulled them back up. So when we found out we were taking some people home in the car that could barely fit all six of us in it, we decided to keep the seats down to create more space for us to fit.

Michaela, Alexa and I were asked to sit in the back while my parents’ friends sat in the passenger seat and the middle with Josiah and my mom. We had crammed a smaller car with more people before and since seat belts are not used in the back in Ecuador anyways, my sisters and I were not worried about not being in a seat.

zafira seats

The trunk of a Chevrolet Zafira with the seats folded down. Photo retrieved from http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/zafira-4.jpg

I sat on the far left with my legs facing forward so I could try to look out the side window. Michaela and Alexa sat on the right side with their legs facing the back. I remember we were fairly quiet for most of the ride, just listening to the grown-ups talk.

The rest of the ride was spent rushing to the hospital.

About five minutes before we arrived at my parents’ friends house, a car going the opposite way cut left, driving right into our path. Dad slammed on his breaks.

“Hold on!” Dad shouted.

Michaela immediately grabbed Alexa as they slid toward the seat in front of us. However, my sliding was much less graceful. My face slammed into the back of the seat, forcing my top teeth to bite into my top lip, though not all the way through this time.

I pulled back from the chair and saw the blood before I felt the pain. I cried out and more blood spattered the seat.

The next few minutes were a blur of mom checking my lip, the man from the other car begging my dad not to call the police, Mom moving me to the middle seat to lay down as she explained that our car could still be driven and I needed to go to the hospital, and me apologizing to the woman who had been sitting in front of me because I had gotten blood on her shirt.

The next thing I remember is arriving at the VozAndes Hospital. I got out with my mom while my parents’ friends went and looked for a taxi and the rest of my siblings went home with Dad because the hospital only allowed one family member or friend into the Emergency Room with the sick person.

Hospital VozAndes

The VozAndes hospital in Quito, Ecuador.

As soon as I got into one of the Emergency Room beds, I began shaking uncontrollably. This concerned my mom, so she asked the nurse what was happening to me.

“She is just going into shock,” the nurse replied.

That was the first time I experienced going into shock after an accident.

After giving me some morphine, the nurse grabbed some scissors and cut off a piece of fat that was hanging down from my lip. I did not feel or see anything, but my mom was pretty grossed out. She said the piece that was cut off fell into three separate pieces in the nurse’s hand.

I do not remember much after that. I know a doctor came after a few minutes and put seven stitches into my upper lip while he explained what kinds of foods I was and was not allowed to eat. The stitches I was given this time were not dissolvable, so I had to return a week later to get them out.

Oli LIP Car accident

The next morning after the accident, Dad insisted on taking a picture. They did not show me the picture until after I had recovered.

I was out of school for three days after that. I spent most of that time sleeping in my parents’ bed so they could take care of me and watching TV with them. My lip felt like it was the size of a banana, which made it very difficult to eat. I could not take a bite of anything without drooling, so I had to carry a washcloth around with me for almost a week and a half.

After three days of being bed-ridden at home, my parents made me go to school even though my lip was still swollen and it was still hard for me to eat. I even remember having lunch that day with my friend Mary and having to explain that I needed the washcloth to clean up the drool from my mouth. Despite that, she still sat and had lunch with me even though the sight of me eating probably would have made anyone lose his or her appetite. But I never forgot that lunch.

I went back to the doctor that weekend to get my stitches taken out. After removing all of them, the doctor explained that there would be a tight knot where I had hurt my lip. To this day, I can still feel that knot.

The count is now 24 total stitches that I have gotten in my mouth. Next week, I will share my third and final experience of getting stitches in my mouth, but this time in the United States.

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