Monday, March 29, 2010

Toe Hair Tourniquet

Grunter and I spent some time in the Emergency Room last night.
Wow, those are words you never want to write about your nine week old son.

Do you know about hair tourniquets? Amazingly, I had only read about them just last week. Randomly in thing. I'm always reading some baby thing and there it was. My friend Lisa was over on Friday and she has really long hair that the babies were grabbing and I even mentioned it to her as I'd just learned about it.

Basically, a single hair can get wrapped around a baby's toe or finger so tightly that it cuts off the circulation. It goes from red and swollen to black and blue very, very quickly.
In the worst cases, a baby/child can lose that digit.
There have also been cases where the hair tourniquet can be around a penis and one little girl lost her clitoris because of a hair tourniquet.

I'm going to admit here that I don't spend a lot of time looking at my boy's toes. We tend to keep them in footed sleepers or little leggings with socks. Diaper changes are so quick because there's always another baby waiting that you suit them up and move right along.
We don't linger long naked during or after a bath because they get cold so quickly and start crying.
Fingers on the other hand? Well, I look at those closely at least 8 times a day as I'm breast feeding them. I would notice immediately if something were wrong with their fingers.

Last night I was changing Grunter's footed sleeper and something compelled me to stare at his feet.
Maybe his toenail scratched me and I thought, "Oh it's time to clip or file those little toenails".
I don't know. All I remember is looking down and thinking "His toe is a little deformed. That's a shame. I never noticed that before. Too bad he doesn't have perfect toes. Wait, what IS that?"
Because it wasn't just ONE toe, it was THREE. Two of the three middle toes had hair wrapped around the bottom and the other one around the top, just under the toenail.
It was TIGHT, cutting into the skin making it look like there was a line around it (well, there was, a line formed by the hair) and red and swollen.

Instantly I remembered what I had just read and how serious it was. Chicken and I tried to find a loose end of the hair to unwind and it became obvious how much this hurt him.
Interestingly, he had been uncharacteristically fussy the last couple of days and we'd remarked that this was so unlike Grunter who is always quite happy-go-lucky. However, he's also had a very slight bought of diarrhea and we chalked it up to that.

We finally got some blunt edge tweezers, soaked his foot in warm water and I held him while breastfeeding him as Chicken tried to unwrap the hair.
I have never felt so desperate in my entire life.
While I have loved these boys from the day they were conceived, last night it reached a whole new level that I cannot explain. If you are a parent, you know what I am talking about.
The urge to protect him from anything harmful was so intense and I was so overwhelmed that I couldn't make him stop hurting. I felt even worse knowing it was probably my hair and why hadn't I been diligently checking his toes.
I knew since it wasn't black and blue it hadn't been there too long, but how long??

We did manage to get some of the hair off, 2 small strands but it had cut in so deep that we honestly couldn't be sure it was all gone. I called our pediatrician who urged me to take him into the ER immediately. I'm so glad I called. I almost waited until the morning when I figured we'd take him to the office.
This is how serious a toe hair tourniquet is: I was called first in the pediatric ER even though there were others ahead of me. The doctor had a huge sense of urgency to make sure Grunter was treated immediately. It can get bad SO quickly. He was relieved to find out the toes were not black/blue.
He and another doctor came in with a huge magnifying glass....and couldn't find any hair. They were amazed that we had gotten it all, but apparently we had. Many times, they have to lance the toes and stitch them back up. This is some serious shit.
I was sent home with instructions to keep a close eye on the toes to make sure it didn't get worse.
It will take awhile for the swelling to go all of the way down, but it does appear to be getting better and is definitely not getting worse. Whew.

I've never felt more scared and helpless. Oh, this little baby who is totally dependent on me for his happiness and safety and I felt I'd failed him. I took him home still wrapped close to his mommy in his Moby and we nursed one on one in the recliner. Even then, I didn't want to let him go. I just wanted to hold him all night and let him know how much, how fiercely I loved him.

I'll admit I didn't know how my bond would be as these are genetically Chicken's boys, but WOW. I am overwhelmed with emotion for my boys. They are MINE. Chicken even says she feels like they are more mine than hers because I carried them, I gave them life, I feed them with my body everyday.
Oh boys, how I love you. I promise I will do everything I can to protect you from harm.

So ladies and gents, check those little toes, fingers and private parts daily.


Schroedinger said...

That is terrifying! Thank goodness you were on top of the situation and got it under control before poor Grunter lost his toe!

Wow, I can only imagine what a feeling that must have been! I bet you'll be checking those toes a lot from now on!

Schroedinger said...

I meant to add: good job on you & Chicken! Way to save the day and the digit :)

N said...

Oh my god, how scary. Thank god you looked at his feet and saw it. My goodness. Thank you for this post.

Mommy and Mamita said...

Wow. That is scary. When I get home tonight I am going to be inspecting some toes.

anofferingoflove said...

i have goosebumps from reading this post! how scary!!!

Anonymous said...

Holy jebus. I've never heard of this - thank goodness you HAD. I'm glad he is fine, I'm glad you can recover from a scare rather than something worse. Kiss his little toesies, and I'm gonna start checking mine - especially as they are always barefoot now and mobile on our disgusting hair covered carpet!!

Mommy D said...

Oh my God! Thank goodness ya'll are all right.... I have a friend who's little boy got a hair wrapped around the base of his penis at about 8 weeks old... Luckily they caught it before the black and blue loss of circulation thing got completly out of control, but I remember her calling me in a panic saying that they were rushing them into the ER, in front of everyone else waiting to make sure they got every last bit of hair.... I never realized that it could be such a big problem, but her scare made me more aware and I tired to check my babies over as often as my lack of sleep would allow....

Good to hear all is well now... Poor little Grunter!

Next in Line said...

I am so happy that he is ok. I know what is like to have to go the ER and worry so much. Lucky Grunter got a very special snuggle filled with love after his toe incident.

Ruby at Breathedragon said...

Yikes! It's neverendingly crazy how something so everyday can become such a threat to a baby! Thank God you spotted it. I will now add that to my list of things to obsessively think about when I become a parent.

Anonymous said...

Yikes! I've heard of this phenomenon, but didn't realize it could turn so serious so quickly. I'm glad that you were so on top of things and saved him from more pain. Way to go, mamas!

tbean said...

Holy smokes Puffer--how scary! I didn't even KNOW about this thing. And I worry about everything! I'm so glad everyone is okay. You made it through your first big scare and you handled it like a pro. Well done. Toe kisses to everyone from me.

Melissa said...

OMG! I have never heard of such a thing! I will keep a look out on my little man for sure. Glad he is okay, how scary!!

vee said...

I remember reading about this when BB was teeny and thinking how daft it sounded. I couldn't imagine it happening, but hell, clearly it does and it's very serious indeed. So glad you got to it in time.

Sunny said...

Wow, I have *never* heard of this, and I read a lot of baby stuff too! Thank you for posting about it, I definitely learned something. But most importantly, I am relieved that you recognized the significance right away and took action! Well done, mama!

Growing up Clangley said...

i have never, ever, never, never, ever heard of this before and we have two kids! you totally did not fail grunter... now youve educated many of, had no idea this could happen...none.

Anonymous said...

I'd heard of that but never knew how serious it is! Thanks for sharing so that the rest of us can learn and know what to watch out for.

I'm so glad Grunter is ok. Nice work ladies.

Suze said...

I can't believe that you just posted this... my mother-in-law had to call her neighbor the nurse to remove a toe hair turniquet from Danny's toe two weeks ago.

I had no idea what they were, or how serious they could be. Crazy, isn't it? Now, when Danny starts to melt down, we immediately ask each other if we've checked his toes lately...

We now check the footies of all his long-legged onesies when we fold laundry. Crazy stuff. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi, I have had a similar incident happen to my child. Though mine resulted in loss of baby toe. I as well as most of the people I know have never heard of this though my life story goes like this... It's been so cold and generally babies her washed every other day which is what I was doing I also kept a woolen bootie on while I changed the nappy around it. I was bathing my toddler and was undressing my 11 wk old baby and noticed a black swollen baby toe. We rushed to emergency drs saw us almost straight away they were going to use nair hair removal though couldn't see any hair and it was also possibly too late. X-ray was taken during X-ray blister popped we went home advised to keep from infection drs said top if toe would not survive as circulation had been stopped. Next day blister started filling again and next day went hard and black it became more clear that pretty much all of the toe was dead. While changing my baby 2wks later the toe came off in my hand. I was absolutely devastated how could I have let something like this happen very hard to not blame myself. As a mother u want the world for your children and for this to happen I am crushed

Anonymous said...

So scary, just spent two hrs in the ER , my some had a hair wrapped tightly around the rim of his pee pee, and thank goodness I took him in, it was so bad he couldn't walk, I didn't realize how bad it was because he has bronchitis and I thought he was just crabby, so word to the parents, pay close attention when your child complains about something, it could be pretty serious. We got it snipped in time, he had little cuts from where the hair was cutting into his skin, but we got some antibiotics and are healing up quite nicely.

Tara Blesener said...

Its amazing how many people have never heard of this. I spent my day yesterday in the ER with my 6 month old. He had a piece of my hair wrapped around 3 of his little toes, thankfully they are going to be fine but I cringe and feel horrible every time I see the cuts in his sweet little toes.