4 a.m. Phone Call

My heart always skips a beat when the phone rings at 4 a.m.  No one calls at 4 a.m. with good news.  Fortunately, most such middle-of-the-night phone calls turn out to be wrong numbers.  Unfortunately, the call we received at 4 a.m. Wednesday morning was not a wrong number.  It was our oldest son.

He begins the conversation with “Don’t freak out, but I’m in the emergency room.”  Not a good start.  But it can’t be too bad, can it, since he is able to make the phone call himself?

“I burned my hand on hot grease.”  We breathe a sigh of relief.  A burnt hand isn’t that bad.

“They’re transferring me to the burn unit at MCV.”  Our hearts skip a beat.  There is no way to put a positive spin on being transferred to a burn unit 50 miles away.

We hang up the phone and try to process the information we have just received.  We begin imagining the worst possibilities.   We shed a few tears, hold each other, and pray for our son.

We’ve never been to the university hospital in Richmond, so we call our local emergency room for directions.  We are told that our son is still there and will be for another half hour, so we dress and rush over to see him.  He seems fine except for the large bandage covering his right hand.  “It’s not that bad,” he tells us; however, his nurse disagrees. “It’s pretty bad,” she whispers.

Soon after he arrives at MCV, the burn specialist declares that it really isn’t bad for a grease burn.  He had been prepared to perform skin grafts but realizes that grafts will not be necessary.  Praise God!  However, it is 6 hours before they release him and only after he agrees to having a home health care nurse come to the house to perform wound care for the next couple of days.

The end prognosis is that he should heal fine, if the wound does not become infected.  He is home-bound for the next 2 weeks to minimize the possibility of infection.  We have been assured he will retain full mobility of his hand. We are unsure  whether the hand will be scarred. 

We are grateful to the doctors and nurses who treated our son, and we are thankful that he had the good sense to seek medical attention.  Most of all, we thank God that He protected our son from permanent injury. 

This 4 a.m. was a reminder that we never know what each day (or night) will bring.  Even though our children are grown, they are still our children and we worry about them.  And that will never change.

Author: Susan Elizabeth Ball

Author of the Christian Bible study, 'Honoring God with Your Money,' and three Christian novels, 'Restorations;' 'Reconciliations;' and "Letters to Mother from College." Small business consultant, former pizza restaurant owner, wife, mother, grandmother of 8.

6 thoughts on “4 a.m. Phone Call”

  1. You ended on a point I was thinking as I was nearing the end. Regardless of the age of our children, we worry and we hurt when they hurt. That 4am call rattles the heart and mind. I am glad your son was cared for and is on the mend. May God provide you (your son and the family) with strength and peace as he heals.

    1. He had quite a lot of pain through the weekend, but he is doing much better. The burn seems to be healing as it should. Praise God it wasn’t as bad as they thought it should have been. Thanks for the prayers.

  2. Oh Susan, I am so sorry to hear this. I hope and pray for a very speedy recovery for him. I’m so sorry you have to go through this….Keep us posted!

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