Occasionally there really is a wolf

Mackenzie has been going through an “Ow!” phase for the past several weeks and her little sister has followed suit (as often happens). They are both prone to holler “Ow! That hurts!” when little to no physical pain is involved in a situation.

Example: I insist on holding Mackenzie’s hand when she would prefer I didn’t. This is a big OW in her book.

Example: I take away the permanent marker Caitlyn is wielding. Double OW.

We had discussed The Boy Who Cried Wolf and how if we say everything hurts, when something actually DOES hurt, people will have a hard time believing us. But still, the OW train picked up speed. At nighttime if she got out of bed for no reason, matter-of-factly sending her back to bed would result in anguished cries of pain.

So this past week when we returned from Florida and I heard some OWs from Mackenzie about having to sit down to eat her food or being carried up to bed, I chalked it up to her quirky (and frustrating) new way of lodging complaints.

She insisted that these things hurt her leg, but knowing she had sustained no injury to said leg, I’ll admit to some eye rolling on my part. At one point Scott inspected The Leg and found a tiny bump, likely an insect bite of some kind.

WARNING: Things are about to get very, very gross around here. I’m sharing details because I had never encountered something like this with my children before and I thought it might help someone else.

This past Wednesday, Scott checked The Leg again and was surprised to find a very legitimate sore there. The bite had become swollen, discolored in the center, red over a large area, and hot to the touch.

Friday afternoon, he looked again and immediately had me call the pediatrician to get an appointment. He recognized that poor Mackenzie’s tiny bite had turned into an abscess and would need to be opened and drained! I am so grateful he knew what to look for and made the judgement call for me. I think I would have waited much longer, feeling sheepish about getting an appointment for a bug bite.

We secured an appointment 45 minutes from then and prepped Mackenzie as well as we could: This is going to hurt, a lot. But it needs to be done and the better you hold still the quicker it will be. We even promised ice cream after the appointment and put no qualifications on it.

That poor sweet girl screamed and screamed and struggled to escape while Scott held her tight and her pediatrician did his pediatrician thing. I was so grateful that Scott was there for this because I don’t know if I would have been able to do what he did. I wanted to cry myself just hearing her desperation. I was unwise enough to bring Caitlyn but she seemed to be fascinated with the whole thing and not in need of much reassurance.

We left with Mackenzie sporting a snoopy band-aid and a small smile on her face at the anticipation of ice cream. The doctor started her on a five day course of Bacterim and mentioned that warm baths would help. He gave no further instructions.

Saturday came and went with a warm bath and still a lot of discomfort for Mackenzie. Her leg still looked pretty gnarly, but I figured these things took time to heal. She was taking acetaminophen and still having a hard time walking around. That night she woke up every few hours moaning and crying out for us.

Sunday Morning as we were getting ready to leave for church, both Scott and I felt a strong impression at the same time that we needed to change that Snoopy band-aid. Fortunately, Scott insisted on doing it because a few seconds later he was yelling for towels.

Apparently Snoopy was not allowing the wound to drain at all, and lots and lots of nasty stuff (read: pus, pus, pus) had been building up under the skin. As soon as he took the band-aid off, her abscess erupted. It was much worse than before we had gone to the doctor. 😦

Lots and lots of squeezing on Scott’s part, hollering on poor Mackenzie’s part, and bringing rags and gauze and more gauze on my part… another bath and a proper dressing (gauze and paper tape) and we were off to church, two hours late, with me thinking unkind thoughts about the darn Snoopy band-aid. Poor Scott was kicking himself for not catching the problem earlier. I think he was distracted by work on Saturday and was letting me take care of things… of course I had no clue what I was doing or what to look for in terms of improvement!

We changed her dressing every few hours for the rest of Sunday and she had two warm baths. Her leg looked gruesome, with a big empty pocket of dark colored skin and plenty of redness and seeping.

Monday brought more dressing changes and warm baths, but she felt SO much better and her leg showed remarkable improvement. I think in another day it’ll look like any other sore and by next week it’ll be gone entirely.

The human body has an amazing capacity to heal itself, when given the chance.

Very slight silver linings to this awful experience:

  • Mackenzie has not uttered “ow” for anything less than REAL physical pain in nearly a week. And when Caitlyn hollers “ow” at a minor offense, Mackenzie now informs her that she’s not really hurt.

    That’s a win in my book. If only learning that lesson hadn’t been so painful.

  • Mackenzie has learned to trust me and Scott more because we have been very straightforward and honest with her every step of the way. She was understandably terrified about anyone touching her sore after the horrific trip to the doctor, but we always told her exactly what was coming and whether it was likely to hurt or not. As the days went by, she started to believe us when we said we were just going to check the tape or just going to dab it gently.
  • Although Scott was adamant that her pediatrician should do the initial drainage (and that was a good call), having him care for her later went a long way in helping her understand what he does all day and why he spends so much time at work learning how to help people feel better. It also deepened my respect for his bedside manner and expertise. He really is excellent at what he does, Snoopy Fail notwithstanding. 😉

About beanland

Scott is a family practice doctor and Anne is a full-time mother and teacher to three beautiful girls and one boy.
This entry was posted in Life as we know it, Tough Days. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Occasionally there really is a wolf

  1. Mom Bean says:


    What a horrific experience for poor Mackenzie. Please give her hugs and kisses from Grandma Bean. I’m so glad that Scott was able to help Sunday. It reminded me of Uncle George’s praises of Scott at Ensign Ranch. You and Scott are good parents and I love you both:)


  2. Katie says:

    Oh wow. Poor kid! That sure is a painful way to learn that lesson. But what a smart, sweet kid she is. So glad she’s on the mend!


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