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11/06/2006

Hot, hot, clot

Saturday night Charlie was playing in the kitchen at my parents' house, a few steps away from the family room where the rest of us sat and talked.  I could hear him clearly.  The clang of his stainless steel mixing bowls, the clatter of his dried pasta, and the occasional delighted "Tahnie yuza whisk!  'S time-a mix!" were soothing indicators that he was not, in fact, deep-frying a turkey without proper supervision.

When I heard the beeping of the controls on the wall oven, it was time to intervene.  I flew into the kitchen, stooped down to petit Escoffier height, and reminded him, just as I do at home, that he must never, ever, ever, ever, ever touch the stove.  "It's hot," I tell him every time, "and it could hurt Charlie."  "Stofe-a hot!" he parrots.  "Huht Tahnie!"  And then he immediately lurches over to the cabinet full of delectable household poisons, gets out his Leatherman, and attempts to dismantle the childproof latch, but, hey, one thing at a time.

My lecture on Saturday night had its usual effect, which was to distract him from the mischief at hand long enough to get involved in something else.  In this case, that meant joining the rest of us, sitting on the step between the hall and the family room.  He sat there for a few minutes thinking toddler thoughts, and then got up, looking purposeful.

"Where are you going?" I asked him as he stumbled doggedly down the hall.

Determined tone.  "Tahnie goin-a toucha stofe."

Great idea, kid.  Now when you're finished with that, can you please see about fixing that smoking toaster?  Here's a butter knife.  Go to it.  No, don't unplug it first: you know I've told you never to play with wires.

...

Here at my parents' house Charlie has incurred his first actual injury, aside from the odd bump here and there.  He was playing quietly in the living room, putting apples into a basket and taking them back out, while his cousin read a book; my aunt and I were in the kitchen.  I heard Charlie suddenly cry out, a cry that meant business.  When I went to him I found no cuts, no blood, no immediate clues.   My nephew hadn't seen anything out of the ordinary, but said Charlie had been playing by an end table that held a lamp.  "I bet he stuck his finger in the outlet," he suggested, something Charlie knows very well not to do.

Careful examination revealed that Charlie had large blisters on a couple of his fingertips and on two places on his palm.  It looked for all the world like a burn.  All I could assume was that he'd touched the lamp's hot light bulb, something else he knows is not allowed and which, moreover, would have been very difficult since the lamp in question is much taller than he is.

It bothered me.  Charlie was inconsolable; his hand hurt a great deal, and he couldn't understand why.  I held him and soothed him as best I could, but of course his hand still hurt, even with the kisses he repeatedly requested, and how can a toddler make sense of that?  How can he be made to understand that soaking a burn in cool water will eventually make it feel better even if it stings at first?  And, poor kid, what's to be done when he thinks biting his blistered fingertips will stop the pain?

But I was also bothered by the mystery of it.  All I could get out of him was "Toucha candle.  Huht Tahnie."  The lamp looks something like candles, so it was fairly clear he'd had some illicit contact with it.  But beyond that I wasn't sure what had happened, and that shook me.  It disturbed me to think that what I've drummed into him about safety — lamps are not for Charlie, no touching plugs, never play with wires — had made such a transient impression.

Revisiting the scene of the crime later, I found a clue.  A metal ring lay on the floor by the end table.  It didn't seem to have anything to do with the lamp, but nor did it seem to have any other purpose.  I mentioned it to my mother, who knew instantly what it was.  The ring was meant to be dotted with aromatic oil and then placed on a light bulb, the warmth of which would diffuse the scent around the room.  Our best guess is that Charlie bumped the table, the heated ring fell off, and Charlie picked it up.

An accident.  No one was doing anything wrong.  He didn't forget what I'd taught him.  I couldn't have prevented it if I'd been in the room.  Four big blisters, an hour and a half of crying.  Just one of those things that happen.

...

I've started birth control pills for our next IVF cycle.  Oral contraceptives are contraindicated for women who are known to have any kind of thrombophilia, but in an attempt to recreate the conditions under which I've achieved pregnancy in the past, here I am, knowingly taking the risk.

Because I have Factor V Leiden, I'm already at higher risk of developing a blood clot than someone without clotting problems — I'm heterozygous, so let's say 4 to 7 times higher.  That's 4 to 7 in 10,000.  By taking birth control pills, I flirt with an incidence of about 35 in 10,000.

That doesn't sound smart, I know.  But in context, it is a far lesser risk than doing IVF to begin with, which my hematologist estimates increases my risk a hundredfold.  If 100 isn't slowing me down, why should I cavil at 35?  And it is a risk of lesser duration — 21 days or so — than that imposed by pregnancy, which increases the risk by about 7 times.  So for 21 days, I'll chance it.

We can all justify whatever we really care about.  I've been doing a lot of it since we started all this last spring.  In this instance, I tell myself that the risk, while relatively high, is still absolutely low and therefore acceptable, despite general practice.  ("Of course, we won't have you on OCPs this time..." said my doctor.  "Well," I said carefully, "let's talk about this.")

I took my second pill today.  It's too early to be sure, but I think it's working out very well so far.  Now if you'll excuse me, my leg's kind of hurting all of a sudden, so I have to go find my vibrator.  I know the tiny gold label says not to use it on unexplained calf pain, but surely they can't mean it.  It also says "back and neck massage tool," for crying out loud, and we all know they don't mean that, right?

Like I said, we can all rationalize whatever we want.

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