Daddy's hand

Patey, Paul

Mommy sits and snugly hugs her daughter, age two-and-a-half. Daddy kneels on the floor with his strong right hand gently but firmly holding his daughter's left hand so that it will not move, but so the swollen thumb with the blue fingernail is exposed. Two hours ago that little thumb got squat very firmly by the hinge side of the front door while Daddy was holding the knob. The child cried. Daddy felt upset and Mommy was troubled. Bleeding has occurred under the nail, where it is under pressure. It is very painful for the child. An X-ray has shown that the bone is not broken. It's time to release the pressure.

I straighten a paper clip one turn and clamp it firmly with a small pair of pliers. I place my hand on the father's, and pivot mine so that the cold tip moves to just above the blue thumbnail. The father's hand feels very steady. The child is wrapped in her mother's hug. I am confident the little thumb will not move. I turn away and with a small hot flame which the nurse has provided I heat the tip of the paper clip red hot. It will cool quickly. Swiftly I turn, place my hand on the father's and pivot mine so that the tip just touches the blue nail. In less than a second the red hot tip melts a small hole through the nail. The trapped blood immediately spurts through the hole while I pluck away the clip. The child does not cry; the blood under the nail has insulated the underlying tissue from the hot tip of the clip. For a few seconds four hands met on the little girl's arm.

The nurse provides the mom a piece of gauze to wipe the thumb and puts a Band-aid on it. Snug in her Daddy's arms, the child departs, with Mommy close by. I see his big loving right hand on his daughter's back. In the past two hours that hand has had three roles: accidentally hurting, deliberately helping, and now hugging. After they depart, I say to the nurse, "I wanted to find a way he could help her, and we did."

Theme: Family | Famille
Theme: Relationships | Relations

Stories in Family Medicine | Récits en médecine familiale [Internet] Mississauga ON: College of Family Physicians of Canada. 2008 --.




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