Saturday, January 5, 2013

Life Lessons 11: Blood

A/N: This wasn't meant for people with a phobia of blood! The research for this made me sick. The emotions made this hard to write as well. I know medicine has probably advanced, but we're going to assume stitches and stuff are the same. Thanks to my mom for help with medical stuff.

Katniss saw blood regularly, whether it was in her nightmares or after making a kill out in the woods. Katniss had never seen blood as something to be scared of. Sometimes seeing blood meant death, but the blood itself wasn't actually causing the death. There was no logical reason to fear the red substance. In fact, blood was a requirement of life. Why then was the blood she saw now sending terror through her?

Katniss had been hunting in these woods for years. She never worried about tripping over a stray branch or rock. That's why she had been so startled to hear a thump immediately followed by a cry of pain. The first thing Katniss noticed upon turning around was that Nickel was now on the forest floor. The next thing she noticed was that his bow was still in his hands, but his arrow was suspiciously missing. It took miliseconds for her to piece together the arrow's position. She closed the three feet between her and her son quicker than ever before and began to inspect the leg wound the arrow had caused.

Katniss had never liked wounds, but seeing her own child in pain was the worst she had ever felt. There was also something about the blood that scared her like never before. In the past, it had always been the pain she saw that scared her. Now, this wound brought a new kind of terror to her. Not only was her child in pain, it was also a terrible wound that much she could tell already. Horrible scenerios ran through her mind: What if it had to be amputated? What if he lost too much blood? The sight of blood had never scared her so much. The rational part of her mind was telling her that, while serious, this didn't look like a fatal wound if it was taken care of properly. Her emotions, however, were telling her the exact opposite.

She went to pick the young boy up but quickly realized that the eight-year-old had grown in the past year or so. Nickel was now three-fourths of her size, and there was no way Katniss could make it anywhere while lugging him. She also knew that she was too far from town or people for her to run for help. There was no way she was leaving Nickel alone in the woods, especially with his injury. This was the only time she'd ever regreted not buying one of those stupid little phones you could carry around with you. They'd always been popular with the Capital and had begun catching on in the districts, but Katniss had always thought them a waste of money.

Katniss's mind had been working overtime in the five minutes since Nickel had fallen, and she forced herself to calm down. Nickel had begun to cry, and Katniss did the only thing she could think of at the moment. She sat down next to him and held him against her chest while running through every possible course of action she could think of. None of them were realistic or possible. Katniss had never been one to believe in miracles, but she found herself wishing someone would magically stumble upon them in the usually deserted woods.

It didn't take Katniss long to realize she was going to have to do something about the wound herself. The thought made her queasy, but she braced herself for what she knew had to be done. Katniss could remember being told sometime in the past that it wasn't good to remove something lodged in the skin. At least not if it was in as deep as the arrow. That would only cause the blood to flow faster. At least, she knew that applied to some wounds. Was it true for this one? Maybe that was only if it hit a vital organ. She didn't have any medical supplies on her, and she had no way of cleaning the wound if she removed the arrow. She was going to have to get Nickel to the hospital in town, and the only way to do that was for him to limp while Katniss supported as much of his weight as possible. It would have to work.

"Nickel," Katniss's voice was raspy from fear but she succeeded in getting her son's attention. "You're going to have to try and walk. I'll support as much of your weight as I can, but you're going to have to try. It's the only way to get you to town."

The boy nodded in agreement but didn't look happy about it. His breathing became even more ragged as Katniss hauled him to his feet. It was a struggle, and Katniss could tell that this would be just as difficult as she imagined it. She could only hope that they'd run into help on the edge of town, so they wouldn't have to make it all the way to the hospital by themselves.

An eternity seemed to pass before they reached the fence surrounding the district. Katniss had to lower Nickel to the ground before working to make an opening large enough for her to fit through while supporting Nickel. Katniss wasn't one to normally call attention to herself, yet she found cries for help leaving her mouth as they came upon the first scattered houses on the outskirts of town.

Katniss spotted a few people peak out of their windows, but only one came to their aid. The man was middle-aged and kindly-looking. Katniss could almost cry as he lifted Nickel into his arms and began carrying him the remaining way to the hospital. The small hospital was a welcome sight when they finally came upon it, and doctors rushed to their aid. Katniss knew they were lucky to live in District 12 where the hospital was always low on patients because of their small population. If the hospital had been busier, they could have been waiting a long time, and Katniss was getting more and more worried every second.

Although Katniss wanted nothing more than to stay right by Nickel's side, she knew Peeta needed to know what was happening, and she didn't feel right letting the nurse make the call for her. After two rings, Katniss started worrying that Peeta wasn't in the house to pick up the phone. She was getting impatient when she finally heard him say hello on the other end.

"Peeta," she spoke in a rushed voice. "It's Katniss. I'm at the hospital. Nickel got hurt in the woods. Arrow in his leg. I got him here as fast as possible. Can you come?"

There was a second of silence where Katniss assumed Peeta was taking it in. "I'm on my way," Peeta said before hanging up the phone.

Katniss rushed back down the hallway to find a doctor leaning over Nickel. There were also two nurses standing by. Katniss felt a bit uneasy over leaving her son with three strangers when he was in such a state. Neither the nurses nor doctor paid her much attention as she made her way to her son's side. Her grip on Nickel's hand was tight as she watched the doctor extract the arrow from the wound. Once the arrow was extracted and handed off to one of the nurses, Katniss heard the doctor muttering to himself, "Doesn't seem to have hit anything we can't fix. Should just need stitches." Katniss breathed a large sigh of relief, taking this as a good sign.

If the sight of the needle used to numb Nickel's skin had caused Katniss discomfort, Katniss's stomach convulsed as she watched the doctor sew up Nickel's skin. Katniss knew how stitches worked, but she'd never expected them to really be that similar to sewing pieces of fabric. The doctor had obviously done this many times before as he sewed up the skin quickly with a stitch that expert seamstresses would have been jealous of.

Peeta found Katniss and Nickel moments later. The doctor had just left, and Katniss was fussing over Nickel as he tried to make himself more comfortable without upsetting his leg. Dani was with her father and appeared sick. She'd never been in a hospital before, and she didn't like the eerie atmosphere of the place.

"The doctor said he can leave soon. He'll just need to be careful about his leg." Katniss told the new-comers as they crowded around Nickel's bedside.

Peeta let out a sigh of relief, and his whole body seemed to instantly relax after inspecting his son. Dani quietly stood away from the others as she observed her brother. She wasn't sure what to say or do. The stitches on his leg were something she'd never seen before. Although Dani felt relief that her brother seemed to be okay physically, she was a bit wary of how he was doing emotionally. This wasn't just a minor cut. He'd had to go to the hospital. She didn't know how to act. Should she act sorry for him or just express happiness that he was okay? She settled for standing between her parents in silence.

Nickel, however, didn't seem to notice the extreme emotions his injury had caused his family. He was inspecting his stitches as closely as he could without touching them. He stared in wonder at them for a few minutes. "These are so cool!" he finally exclaimed. All of the pain he'd gone through today seemed to have been forgotten. "They just sewed it up like I was a doll! Am I going to have these stitches forever? Because I want to show everyone! Wait until my friends see this!" In his excitement, Nickel failed to notice his father's chuckling or the fact that his mother was staring at him in shock and suddenly seemed unsteady on her feet. Dani smiled at her brother and hopped onto the hospital bed beside him before joining him in inspecting this leg.

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