Friday, 16 February 2018

My Daughter's Cut Face And The Glue Which Didn't Help

I’m annoyed.

Last week my youngest had an accident. It was just one of those things and nothing could have stopped it. She ran across the room and face planted, hitting her cheek on the grate in our (now ornamental) fire place. If it had been a little bit either way she would have hit her head on the wall with force, so even if we had protected the fireplace you can’t pad the walls and she could still have been injured. She got a cut on her cheek which was deep and gaped.

A toddler with a cut on her face cuddled up to her Daddy and reading a book together
At Children's A&E waiting to be seen 

After seeking advice we went to A&E to get treatment to avoid the risk of infection and minimise the scarring. Fortunately our local hospital now has a 24 hour children’s A&E so the waiting area was child focused and all the staff extra friendly. Unfortunately they were short staffed, but as it was a head injury we were a priority and triaged after a couple of hours. It was then less than an hour before they cleaned and dressed the wound and we could leave. We were asked to come back the next morning to see some one from "Max Plastics", a specialist plastics team which deal with that area of the face properly known as Oral Maxillo-Facial Surgery.

The next morning it was quiet and there was only us and one other patient in the Children’s Emergency Department. They called the doctor down from Max Plastics and he looked at Little’s cut. He suggested we had the option of steri strips or sutures. I ruled out steri strips straight away as Little had kept picking at the plaster in the 8 hours she had it on so I didn’t think the steri strips would be left alone. The doctor and I agreed that it was unlikely Little would stay still with just a local anaesthetic while someone stitched near her eye so sutures under general anaesthetic was the best option although not without it’s risks.

I generally feel a sense of unease when people mention general anaesthetic and the risks for a just turned 2 year old are higher than for adults. However it was really important to me that we chose the option that resulted in the least scarring. I kept thinking about how she would feel as a self conscious teenager with a scar on her face. The doctor went off to see when they could get her into surgery.

After a short phone call he came back and said there was another option; we could try gluing the cut. He had gone from saying general anaesthetic isn’t without it’s risks to strongly advising against it. He said an Anaesthetist would be reluctant to do it and pushed the glue option. I asked what the difference would likely be in scarring between all the different options and he said there wasn’t much difference. On that basis I agreed it wasn’t worth the risk of general anaesthetic.

Little was tired and hungry by this point as I had been keeping her nil by mouth but as she wasn’t having surgery I could give her food and drink. She didn’t want to keep still so I breast fed her while the doctor did the gluing. This kept her head really still making it easy for the doctor to work.

A toddler sleeping in her car seat with a close up on glue freshly applied to a cut on her face
On the way home after being glued back together

Afterwards it looked a mess and I thought the wound was still gaping under the glue, but I hoped it was just blood etc which had oozed out as he had squeezed the sides together.

For the last week the cut hasn’t bothered her. The bruising has come down and other than having to keep that part of her face dry life has continued as normal.

This morning, exactly 7 days after she had the glue, we noticed the scab was no longer there. We aren’t sure if she picked it off or if it was knocked off, but it makes no difference. We could finally see the cut again and I am not happy. The edges of the fresh cut pushed together well, they just didn’t stay together which was why we needed treatment. The now partially healed wound is gaping and only slightly narrower than the original cut.

I feel I was pushed into an option that either didn’t work or that the doctor (SHO) wasn’t skilled enough to do. I know it’s just cosmetic, I know it won’t impact her health, but we all know how much physical flaws can affect a person.

I have a follow up appointment next month after I insisted on one, but I don’t have any hope they will do anything. As the cut is healing it seems like our only option is to leave it until Little is older and then have elective surgery to correct it. Surgery we will have to pay for. Surgery which we wouldn’t have had to have if the treatment had held the skin together and she had been left with a thin line. 

A close up of a toddlers face with a red looking cut with a gape
One week later and the glue is now off

I am angry that the doctor appears to have done a bad job, I am angry that I was pushed into an option that he either wasn’t experienced enough in doing or that had a high risk in not making a difference. Neither of these were discussed with me. I was lead to believe I was making the best choice, but every time I look at my daughter’s face I feel guilt and anger. It wasn’t my fault she was hurt, but the size of the scar is my fault. I was alone in having to make the decision. It was my choice and I feel I was pushed to make the wrong one.

I still think the glue was a sensible option over stitches under general anaesthetic, but I don’t feel I was properly informed. If the scar size was really more or less the same regardless of treatment then I blame the doctor. My daughter has a much bigger scar than she should have, a scar which to improve she will have to have further unpleasant treatment and I don’t feel I was given the information I needed to make the decision or prepare me for the risk of the size of the scar.

I thought I was asking the right questions, I thought I was properly informed.  I don’t know whether the answers I was given were wrong or if I made the wrong choice. I am angry.


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3 comments

  1. Oh bless you, sounds like a traumatic experience for you all. Don't feel like it's your fault, you did the right thing for her at the time, it was impossible to know the outcome to the scar - the outcomes of a bad reaction to anaesthetic could have been much worse. I'm sure it'll continue to heal and there will be options to help in the future, but it might not be as bad as you think, time will tell, but don't beat yourself up, you chose what any mother would, you wanted the best for your child xx

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  2. What an awful experience. Can you not return to a&e to see if they will sort it out? Dexter fell in the bath at 13/14 months old and we took him to Alder Hey where they decided he’d had surgery to stitch up his lip. He was under general anaesthetic for around thirty minutes while they did the procedure and super groggy afterwards. There’s still a scar where he cut his lip but I’m told if he hadn’t had he surgery he would have had a wonky lip line. I hate that these things happen, I wish we could wrap in them in a cotton ball. I’d definitely suggest putting in a compliant or returning to the hospital sooner though as the longer it’s left the more likely the scar will remain xx

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  3. Oh bless her heart. That looks so painful and I’m sorry you’ve had a really bad experience. I hope she heals soon x

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