November 3rd 1997 was a Monday. It was also a seasonally warm day of around 10˚C; a beautiful day for the kids to play outside. The three older kids were doing just that in the afternoon. The older two came in the house, but Chadya was enjoying her time, sitting on the trampoline playing with her collection of rocks and ice-cream pail. The window to the kitchen was open and I could see her clearly. We lived in Bruderheim at the time and were scheduled to go to gymnastics in Fort Saskatchewan, 20 km away, that afternoon. It was around 3:30 and gymnastics started at 4:00 as I recall, so the older two were getting ready. I called Chadya and she said she needed help getting down. I was getting the youngest ready who was about 8 months old at the time, and asked Chadya’s brother Traftan to go help her off the trampoline. He was almost 5 at that time. They had been in gymnastics a couple months and had learned how to get off the trampoline by going on their stomachs and dropping their feet to the stool below. Our stool was an old chair which was missing the back…
(This post is a little out of the ordinary. My daughter Chadya is getting her degree in early childhood education. She had an assignment to recall a childhood memory and compare it with someone else’s memory of the event. She asked me to recall in detail this event and this is what I sent her.)
….It was less than a minute after he went out the door that I heard crying. Traftan came in to tell me they fell and I ran out to find Chadya with blood all over her little hands which were over her mouth. I carried her to the house and got a wet cloth to wash away the blood and survey the damage. Her brother filled me in on the way things went down (literally). He went out to help, but rather than help her to dismount the way they were taught, or the way she would have on her own, she walked to the edge where he was standing on the stool and he lifted her around her legs. He was standing on the front edge of the ‘stool’ and as he lifted and leaned back in the process; the stool tipped forward to the underside of the trampoline and they fell back. As fate and children would have it, their metal Lil Red Wagon was lined up right where Chadya’s jaw was coming down. As wagon prints would reveal later, her jaw hit the corner somehow, thus having two points of contact a couple inches apart. Her brother hit his head when he hit the ground. As it often is, blood brings the sense of urgency and the head seemed okay. As parents we don’t always analyze the severity of some things that are important when we are focused on what seems urgent.
So with a cold cloth on her mouth and jaw, and three other kids in the van, we set out for Fort Saskatchewan a few minutes later. The bleeding had stopped but the swelling was increasing. We stopped at gymnastics a few blocks from the hospital and dropped off Chadya’s older siblings in the care of their teacher and I proceeded with Chadya and the youngest to the hospital.
The x-ray needed for such a small child required special equipment only in larger city hospitals and we had to wait until the swelling came down. The doctor set up an appointment for the Thursday for a juvenile panoramic x-ray at one of the major hospitals. Chadya was unable to eat that night but by lunch the next day she was able to eat french fries. The panoramic x-ray showed she had two impact marks on her jaw causing fractures at each point and the front fracture was separated by a couple of millimetres. The specialist said he would normally wire the jaw to bring them together but because she was so young her teeth would just pull out from the wires rather than solve the problem. We had another x-ray scheduled for the following week.
Her face bruised badly and was quite swollen. We had a party for her 3rd birthday on the weekend. Her older siblings had swimming lessons the Wednesday a week after the incident; she cried that it hurt while we were traveling home. The next day the x-ray revealed the gap had become a couple millimetres bigger. And in turn, the following week, she was crying from pain again, and the next panoramic x-ray showed the gap had closed.
Through the swollen bruised period, she had people looking at her. She didn’t like that at the best of times, but she handled it well. One person in a grocery store asked if she had surgery. She tolerated the pain very well for such a young child, rarely crying about it and forging forward in getting back to normal routine.
Below is what Chadya sent me. She recalled more things after reading my text, like the ice cream bucket and how she became frustrated with the rocks in the bucket because they wouldn’t stay apart. She can’t add those things to her text for the assignment.
“A week before I turned three years old, I was playing on the trampoline alone. I was playing with little rocks pretending they were a family. I was ready to get off the trampoline but could not do it myself. I remember calling to the house and saw my brother coming out. He was almost five. I was standing on the edge of the trampoline and he stood up on a white patio chair. The chair had the back facing outward. He wrapped his arms around my legs and lifted me. I remember feeling the chair shake and the sensation of falling. I saw the red metal wagon beside the trampoline as I went down. I hit my jaw on the wagon and felt the shock of cold metal and pain. The next thing I remember is my mom strapping me into my car seat while I was crying. I remember there being blood coming out of my mouth and going onto my shirt and the car seat. I was thinking about how it was making a mess of my car seat and felt bad about it. I could taste the blood and feel the warmth of it as it overflowed from my mouth. I know my mom took me to the hospital, but I can’t remember anything after getting strapped into the car seat.”
Finally a few more thoughts from me if you are still reading. This was such a fun and enlightening experience. It was interesting going through the memories and wondering about some of the details. I confirmed the exact date by looking it up, knowing it was before her third birthday, knowing it was a Monday and pretty sure it was November 3rd. I also looked up the temperature for the day because I knew it was pretty warm and they were in light jackets. In text discussions after exchanging writings, I recalled my memory of 3 years old when I got my tonsils out and the images of the hospital and crib and shot and popsicles that remain to this day. I am thankful I got to spend my evening remembering with my daughter.