The last thing I had to prep for dinner was the salad dressing. Instead of peeling off a clove of garlic from the head, I took a short cut and cut the stalk end. Bad idea. I lifted the knife off the board, a rookie mistake, it slipped off the garlic and onto my finger, chopping right through the nail. Immediately I called my husband to say I was going to the ER. He didn’t hesitate to say he would leave immediately and that he would meet Jessie’s ride. This happened at 1:30, Jessie usually returns home around 2:30, and our guests, who were flying in from Colorado, ETA was 4:30. It was going to be tight.
Capital Health is less than ten minutes from the house. I wrapped my finger in a paper towel and kept enough pressure on to prevent the bleeding. Visions of Saturday Night Live with Dan Ackroyd portraying Julie Child came to mind. At least I knew what to do, however, I didn’t know how bad my self-inflicted wound was. It was throbbing and I was afraid to look. What I did know was my finger needed more than a bandaid.
To make a long story short, the doctor irrigated the deep cut, glued my fingernail and the rest of the cut, and I was home by 3:30. This must be some kind of ER record!
While I was at the hospital, I was FaceTiming my husband. If we were going to save dinner, he needed to set the food out so it to come to room temperature, turn on the oven, mince the garlic and slice the tomatoes. I had left the bloody knife on the cutting board and he joked about cleaning up the scene of the crime. When Jessie came home, he then helped her shower and then they chose an outfit for the evening. (At the end of the night, he even did the dishes and cleaned the kitchen)
During all of this, I was so preoccupied with dinner and my injury, I didn’t include Jessie in on the conversation. Sadly, this is what happens when someone is non-verbal. Jessie was sitting with us in our living room when I told my husband about the hospital. I relayed that I was asked how I wanted to be identified, he or she, they rattled off several other options and ended with Q. Honestly, I don’t think this is necessary information with regards to my injured digit but I digress.
As I was finishing telling my story, Jessie said on her Talker, “emergency room”. Then she said, “her, her, her, her”. I wanted to smack my forehead. Of course, Jess was listening and she wanted me to share with her too. She told me this is how I should have answered the identity question.
Jessie uses the app Speak for Yourself and has a custom vocabulary that is always growing. There is also a Babble feature where she can open all the words that have been preprogrammed into the iPad. So there are two ways to access speech. Babble is what she opened so she could find the word Emergency room. “Her” is on the home page but not a word she uses very often. As soon as she spoke, I felt guilty.
Immediately, I told her my story from the beginning. This answered why her Dad was home to greet her. Then I told her how they super glued my finger back together. Then showed her my bandaged finger. Finally, I made sure the word “emergency room” was opened in her custom vocabulary.
This whole event reminded me of how vital it is to make sure I include Jessie in ALL our conversations. She doesn’t have the social grace of looking a person in the eye when they are speaking. Too often it is assumed that she isn’t listening or doesn’t understand. I know this but people that don’t know Jessie well have a hard time accepting this concept. Jessie’s eye contact improves when we slow down the conversation making which makes her feel included. If she is in a group, then I need to be the one to draw her into the conversation.
Whispers are always messages, and if you don’t hear the message, the message turns into a problem. And if you don’t handle the problem, the problem turns into a crisis. And if you don’t handle the crisis, disaster. Your life is speaking to you. Oprah Winfrey, May 25, 2011
My injured finger was more than a whisper. I wouldn’t say it was a crisis either, however, I did hear my lesson and am sharing it so no one forgets that their Angel is watching and listening to everything you do and say. This was my not so gentle reminder to presume competence.
It’s so important to have a robust vocabulary at your fingertips! If the Babble words weren’t easily accessible to Jess, I would have no idea what she would want to say.