I’ve never had surgery, I’ve never broken a bone in my entire 23 years of life, but, I have gotten stitches.
I was around 8 years old; it was a mild summer morning on my block in Detroit, MI. I remember not having school so I think it was the start of my summer break. I had few friends since my family moved a lot. My mom was in and out of jail, same crime different time and had a minor problem with drugs.
This particular morning, my cousin, Shawnté, and our neighborhood friend, Linda, who was 13 at the time, and I decided we wanted to go ride bikes. Well my bike was broken so Linda said she would ride me on hers. Linda had a boy bike so I sat on the straight bar between the handlebars and the seat which was easy because of my small frame.
We went off down our block of large brick houses, enjoying the sunshine and fresh air. We were near the end of the block when Linda ran over a something in the street; she panicked and immediately slammed on the brakes of her bike. It all happened in a blur, I remember flying for what seemed like forever, I stretched out my small arms to brace myself for the fast approaching concrete, suddenly there was a massive pressure on my back slamming me into the street and sliding me about a foot on my face. Linda had fallen off her bike and landed right on me causing the impact to be worst. As I laid there she scrambled to her feet and all I could hear was her screaming “My hands! My hands! I cut my hands!” Next thing I hear was Linda grabbing her bike and taking off down the street. My cousin ran to see if I was okay and help me to my feet. By this point my eyes are filled with hot tears as the pain of my accident hits me full force. It feels like my face is on fire as the mixture gravel and tears sting the wound on my cheeks and chin. She exclaims “Oh my God! Lyanna you’re bleeding!” she then takes her hand to catch the blood gushing from my mouth and walks me back down the street to my home. All the way she kept repeating, “Oh my God auntie Shell is gonna kill Linda! Your face is messed up!” I couldn’t see past my tears I could only focus on the pain, the salty taste of blood in my mouth and how I got blood on my favorite Lion King t-shirt.
When we got to my house, a two family flat, my cousin shouted up the stairs, “Auntie Shell, Auntie Shell! Lyanna got hurt! She’s bleeding!” My mom opened the door to our apartment and I will never forget the words she said, “Oh well, shit happens.” My cousin helped me climb our stairs and my mother sent her home. My mother took me to the kitchen sink so she could rinse my mouth, I must of swished water around five times before she was satisfied. She sat my on our couch in the living room so she could analyze my face. “Oh this might be worse than I thought, it’s pretty deep. I’m going to call your grandmother so we can go see Dr. Monday.” Apparently when Linda landed on me, she forced my two front teeth into my bottom lip causing it to tear it open like a gutted fish. From sliding on the pavement the entire right side of my face was scraped open as well.
My mother cleaned me up and placed band-aids all over my face then sent my outside to sit on the porch and wait for my grandmother’s arrival. My cousin called me across the street to her porch and asked me was I ok. I told her my mom was taking me to the doctor. She was still in shock over what happened and was asking me too many questions to remember. Linda stayed next door to my cousin but she hadn’t come out of her house since the accident. She didn’t cut her hands; she didn’t shed blood at all just scraped off the top layer of skin. Her 16 year old sister was at the door and came out to see me. When she saw my face and lip she went to the door and screamed, “Linda what they hell did you to this little girl’s face?” I just looked at the ground silently.
My grandmother came not to long after and wanted to see the damage. I felt like an exhibit or oddity the way people kept inspecting me with their questions and puzzling faces. My grandmother agreed that I should go to the hospital to see what needed to be done. I remember sitting in the front seat and my feet dangling. I was so scared and anxious because I didn’t know what to expect. My grandmother and mom started to discuss the options for me. “It’s a really deep cut,” my mom said. “Yeah Shell she may have to get stitches,” my grandmother said. At the sound of the word “stitches” panic swept over me and I began bawling and screaming “I don’t wanna get stitches! I don’t wanna get stitches!” My mother tried to calm me down by saying it may not be as bad as they think but they wanted to make sure. I have been deathly afraid of needles since I can remember, even now as an adult I get antsy if I hear the word “shot” despite the fact that I have two tattoos and seven piercings.
When we got to the doctor’s office, which was right down the street from my grandmother, I was on edge. We only had to wait maybe five or ten minutes before I was called back, I think my mom called them in advance, so Dr. Monday could check my face. After a quick assessment Dr. Monday said I would indeed need to be stitched up, I froze with fear. She assured me that it would be okay and that they would give me an anesthetic so I wouldn’t feel anything. I could only whimper an “Okay.”
The nurse walked me down to a small room that had a row of chairs outside the door. This is where they made my mother sit; they told her she would be too upset seeing me get stitches. They let my grandmother come in the room with me so I would be more comfortable. I was laid on a small table and was told to relax, that everything would be fine. The nurse placed a thin sheet of paper over my face; it had a hole in the center which exposed my mouth. It was similar to a toilet seat cover but smaller and square shaped. Then the nurse placed a cold gel across my lip which numbed it so I wouldn’t feel any pain during the procedure. I remember it being bright white and hearing the voices of Dr. Monday, the nurse, and my grandmother as the doctor prepared her tools for the task. I was nervous and scared; I just wanted it to be over so I could go home. “Why is she breathing so hard?” asked the nurse. “Maybe it’s because she has this thing on her face,” my grandmother replied sarcastically.
Dr. Monday talked me through the entire process so that I would be afraid. I felt the coolness of the needle and the tickle of the thread going through my lip. It seemed like forever but it was really only 10 minutes. After three quick stitches I was on my way home.
During the following weeks I refused to leave the house. I wouldn’t go to the store with my mom; I wouldn’t go over my uncle’s or grandmother’s house. I went across the street to my cousin’s maybe a few times but she mostly came over to our house to play with me. My lip had swollen three times its normal size and my cheek was scratched up pretty bad. I can recall telling my cousin that I thought I was the ugliest girl in the world and I would never get a boyfriend. Can you imagine? Being worried about a boyfriend at 8 years old!
A month or so after I got the stitches, my cousin came over to play, I was standing in the mirror on our bathroom door looking at my face. I was tracing all the scabs on my cheek and lip. My lip was a mixture of flesh, scabs, puss, and thread and I started to pick at it. My cousin was freaking out telling my lip was going to come open and I would have to get my stitches redone. I just ignored her and shortly my scabs were gone and so where my stitches. I have a small scar on my lip to this day.