Today I took out 11 stitches. Poor kid was bit by a dog, needed antibiotics, and rabies vaccines and he was walking on crutches in the middle of this beautiful summer.
When I pulled out the suture removal kit, he stared at me in terror wondering what I was gonna do with those scissors and tweezers. He even dropped a tear in anticipation of what was to come. I reassured him that everything he had been through before was much worse that this would be. His dad stood by his side whispering affirmations in Spanish and cradled his head like a little baby even though he was a full 130 pound almost 6 foot teenager.
I had seen them before, when they were in the ED last week for follow up. And they both stared at me with this unspoken admiration, that I was a doctor who looked like them even though I didn't speak their language. I could feel the warmth and pride in his fathers eyes when he looked at me.
So when I reassure them that everything would be ok, they believed me. And in 5 minutes all the stitches were out. He was so surprised , he couldn't believe how painless the whole thing was. They immediately began flicking it up, taking pictures of his battle scars to show the family. And then he facetimed his younger brother who needed 10 staples in his head after a fall and he waved at me from the camera.
Back in the hood, stitches are like war scars, a sign of strength and resilience. People often brag about how many stitches they needed in order to repair their battle wounds. A measure of just how bad they were injured and survived. Kids always get injuries in the summer when they are out playing. Guess these two were both soldiers in the summer war.
I gave them all the paper work so they could be on their way, but before they left he had a very important question.
"When can I play again, jugar!?" He asked eagerly.
Here he was 5 minutes after his stitches were removed, barely able to walk, still using crutches and he wanted to know how soon he could injure himself again. Gotta love kids, so much resilience.