James was rushed to hospital on Wednesday morning. He pulled my cup of tea down on top of himself.
The moment it happened, I had turned my back to put another potential hazard far from reach. I chose the wrong hazard. His scream was piercing. His top wouldn't come off quickly enough, it took several attempts, by which time his skin had blistered. I rushed him to the bathroom and began putting towels soaked in cold water over his chest. I felt so alone, I didn't know what to do and his screams were terrifying. I rang my Dad (thank goodness for parents!). It was 6.40am. He said ring for the ambulance, which I did. But we live in a house divided into flats, I forgot to tell them which buzzer to call.
I banged on my neighbours door, shouting for help. James was still screaming lying on his changing mat covered in a cold towel. I had to get back to him immediately. Del went to wait for the ambulance in his pyjamas - there's neighbourly kindness.
I kept apologising to James each time I changed the towel, which I must have done every two minutes. As the minutes dragged out, the adrenaline began to slow. A moment of grace descended. I remembered to pray for this to turn out for the highest good. I asked Raphael, the angel of healing, to protect and comfort James and prevent scaring, if at all possible.
I tried to ignore his screams. I had to keep changing the cold blankets to cool the scald so that it didn't affect the lower layer of skin and leave him scarred. That overriding concern subsumed my normal desire to avoid him crying. Time dragged even more. I calmed another fraction. I brought myself into second attention, to the space between him and me, to that peace. He stopped crying.
He started again when I changed the compress. Then he stopped. He seemed to fall asleep. He was shivering, his fingers were purple. I panicked again. Was he losing consciousness? He roused when I called him and began screaming again, but would fall asleep between compress changes. He was exhausted.
After what seemed like an eternity, the ambulance men arrived. They were terrific: immediately comforting, calm and effective. Exactly what one would like from an ambulance crew! I had rung Dirk briefly earlier and said I'd ring him back when I knew more, as I thought they would treat him on the spot.
They put a dressing on James and he stopped crying, we covered him in a blanket and headed for the ambulance.