when good coffee goes bad

Last month we got to experience our first serious trip to the E.R. and our first non-birth-related hospital stay. I suppose after two kids and nearly five years of parenthood, we’re statistically below average on that front, but this is one case where I’m happy not to be an overachiever.

We’ve been on a “breakfast for dinner” kick, and were in the final stages of preparing the night’s meal, including a fresh pot of coffee for Tim and I. I moved to put the coffee back on the burner, got distracted by Gwen, who was getting into the fridge, when the pot slipped out of my hand and came crashing down on her head, shattering on the floor.

Tim swooped her out of the mess immediately; my first reaction was, “Broken glass, bare feet, NOT GOOD,” and it’s a few seconds later, as I’m watching the steam rise off her clothes, that I realize she’s probably burned, too. Tim undressed her and sure enough, her skin was already peeling and blistering down her front and back.

9-1-1. Ambulance. Second degree burns to 30% of her body. The smaller local hospital transferred us to Bangor that night, and we were told she’d probably be there a week, with two to three weeks to fully heal. IVs, pain medication, abrasive baths to remove dead skin. Burn care and regular follow-ups after.

Gwen and Ellie

My constant refrain throughout was, “It was bad, but it could have been worse.” And though it’s not in my nature to put a positive spin on something like this, I learned some important things.

We¬†have an amazing network of family, friends, and co-workers who sent messages of love and well-being, visited, offered support, and helped out where they could. We didn’t have to worry about work, or home stuff, or Ellie. The staff at Eastern Maine Medical Center were responsive and caring. It reinforced that we are so lucky to know the people we do.


I learned that our daughter is a trooper. Two days post-burn, she was just as happy and cheerful as ever. Two-year-olds are resilient and incredibly quick healers. I was relieved, because having to fight her about her medication every day for three weeks would have been hell.


I also learned that I am surprisingly competent and calm in a crisis situation. I held my shit together during the ordeal, the treatments, and the aftermath. It sucked, it was a rough week, but I got through it with a mostly positive attitude, minimal guilt, and the occasional laugh. I have to thank the Celexa for some of that, because if this had happened six months ago, I don’t think I would have handled it well.

Thankfully “a week” became three days at the hospital, and “two to three weeks” became one week’s healing time. She still has a faint outline, but it probably won’t scar much, if at all, and hopefully she won’t remember any of the trauma. We will, but as I keep telling myself, it could have been so much worse.