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3 Stitches, 3 Lessons to Overcome Adversity

3 Lessons I learned watching my son get stitches last night...

You know those days/nights where you have a plan, and then that plan goes very, ​very ​differently than you thought it would?

Last night was one of those nights.

***While last night was a first for us and definitely not pleasant, I am going to turn this event into an even bigger deal than it was by sharing lessons learned, so walk with me on this one 😜

I was heading to the grocery store when I received a call from Daniela, my wife.

"Come home now, I think Jack needs stitches."


Sharp U-turn, back to the house in 5.

Yep, he for sure needed stitches. (Mom was amazing, calm and collected while holding a 1 month old in her arms. A lesson in an of itself 😉)

We headed to urgent care #1.

"Sorry, the doctor doesn't feel comfortable with a 2 year old. He doesn't want to take a chance on him moving around and freaking out."

With as much patience as I could muster up (wanting to be a good example of patience for my son), I said thank you and we bolted out of there.​

Off to urgent care #2. These guys were ready to rock 💪

Here is Lesson #1: Realistic Optimism is Key.

Allow your mind to go to "how bad this could really get" briefly, keep about 10% of your mind-space open for that worst case, but stay positive :-). This sets you up mentally and emotionally to handle the frustrating times, without making you overly negative or pessimistic.

I had forgotten to prepare mentally for ​what this process could really look like.

We sat in the waiting room for over an hour before we were seen (then another 30 minutes in the actually room waiting for Doc). 90 minutes. Would have been nice to remind myself that most things take longer than you expect and to ask, "what's could be great about this if I really looked for it?" to help with decreasing frustration!

When the doc came in, he took one look and said, "There is a good chance you'll need to go to the ER so they can sedate him."

LOL. "No way brother!" I responded swiftly. "We are getting this done here, right Jack?" ;-)

There were 3 steps to this "procedure". Each step acted as permission to move forward to the next step:

1. Rinse the open wound repeatedly to clean it out (about 1 inch in width and fairly deep, right above his right eye- a very sensitive place). Jack did not appreciate having a bottle of solution squirted right at his cut 10 times in a row.

2. Stick a needle INTO the wound multiple times to inject it with lidocaine so numbing takes place. If you are not a fan of needles, you will feel me on this (by far the worst part for me to watch as the wound began to bleed more as the doc was doing this, all the while Jack screaming bloody murder).

Lesson #2: Slow the game down and lead with poise. Get Creative, Playful and Focused on Solutions when others are in panic mode. People are relying on your calm presence!

As all this was going on, I reminded myself that "great players can slow a game down". That may sound like overkill, but it was necessary (by the way, we had just driven home 4 hours from New Jersey that day).

This is the mental imagery that great athletes use when stress, pressure, worry, and fear are noticeably elevated within their team.

Deep breaths, slow, deliberate movements --> don't give into the emotion of the moment!

For most people, high pressure = panic = move faster = cause more anxiety = make mistakes = no solutions.

After reminding myself of this truth, as Jack was screaming, panicking, and freaking out, I pulled out my phone, quickly connected to wifi, and got a song playing that Jack loves and makes him laugh. It was just in time for the doctor to finish the injection.

Keep in mind, the urgent care was to close at 6 pm and it was now 6:15 pm. The doctor was clearly ready to go home on the Sunday evening after a long holiday weekend. If any one of these 3 steps was too challenging or could not be completed, we were making a trip to the ER. Doc was clear about this. Ohhhh the pressure.

Injection complete. We are 2/3 of the way done.

"Doc, did we pass? Did we make it to step 3?"


Step 3. ​Suture time. 3 stitches.

​We took a 10 minute break to let the lidocaine do its magic. Jack watched a show on my phone during this break.

I made sure I kept leverage with my son. "Jack, we are almost done buddy. If you let the doctor touch your eye and fix it ​one more time, ​we can go home and have "Jack's fun time" (code for, ​do whatever you want). But if you don't lay down and let him fix your boo-boo one more time, we have to go to ANOTHER DOCTOR 😳."

​Doc enters the room (this time with 3 others to hold Jack down).

Jack knows more pain is coming. The needle did him in last time. He begins freaking out before the 1st suture goes in.

Suture #1, Attempt #1= success. Doc ties the knot.

Suture #2, Attempt #1= fail. Suture comes out and more blood comes out from the punctured area.

Suture #2, Attempt #2= fail. Same thing happens, Jacks emotions double in intensity.

I am thinking in my head, "There is literally no way, we are NOT leaving here without these stitches completed. I will finish myself if needed!"

The doctor was resilient. He stayed calm, I watched him slow his breathing, and remain intensely focused. Eyes on the prize...

Suture #2, Attempt #3= success.

Final one. It's go time.

Jack doubles his intensity one last time as he sweats profusely through his shirt :-(

Suture #3, Attempt #1...the needle goes through both sides BUT then the doctor loses the suture. There is a MILLIMETER of stitch left poking out.

Calmly, delicately, the doctor regains composure, takes his tweezers, and GRABS the millimeter of suture showing!

He ties the knot once, twice, three times. SUCCESS!!!!!!

Lesson #3: You are So Close, Don't Give Up!

Often times when we are the closest to success is when we give up-- the pain is always greatest right before the breakthrough.

I refused to give up.

Doc refused to give up.

Jack refused to give up!

​BONUS LESSON #4: always celebrate a victory. Jack got extra snacks and TV time before bed. He won't associate ​all bad ​with the doctors now :-).

There you have it. Your inspiration for the day :-) Thanks for reading, make it a great day!

All the best,

Andrew Simpson

Andrew Simpson

Chief Vision Officer
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