How Vulcans Treat a Busted Lip

Friday night, I was playing tea party with Teyla in the living room, while simultaneously listening to one of the final Song of Solomon sermons by Mark Driscoll and thanking God that Teyla doesn’t know the meaning of the word “sexuality” yet. It was a peaceful scene. Teyla is a complete (mischievous) delight these days, and I’m flooded with joy just watching her hand me plastic cookies.

Suddenly, the evening air was rent in two by screams.

I jumped up (at least in my mind; thanks to the falling-apart-disease, my body reacts at the speed of a tired 80-year-old right now) to hear Natalie fly into our mudroom from outside. She was sobbing at the top of her lungs, and from the sounds of it, either she was seriously injured or someone had hurt her feelings. (She’s a girl. She’s been known to overreact.)

I hobbled down the stairs. “What’s wrong, honey? I can’t understand you when you’re crying.”

“I was SLEDDING down the BIG HILL and I hit Gabi and SHE DIDN’T EVEN MOVE when I told her to get out of the way and I CUT MY LIP,” she screamed, hysterical.

Rounding the corner, I saw that she spoke truth. Her mouth was dripping blood and her lip was swollen to Angelina Jolie proportions.

I need to freeze the story here for an important public service announcement. I am not an over-reactor, not at this stage of my life. It’s true that I had a flair for the dramatic when I was a child. (I say that for the benefit of my parents, who witnessed most of my Academy Award winning performances.)

But two large life experiences have taught me to have a clear head under pressure:

First, I have been married to a Vulcan for 16 years. Vulcans never over-react, and they raise their eyebrows at people who do. Occasionally, they even give them the Spock nerve pinch to make them shut up. After five years of getting no reaction from my husband AT ALL when I made a scene, I started to learn a better way of behaving. (Also? That nerve pinch can give you a nasty headache.)

Second, I worked as a TV news producer for four years, which is a job known for its pressure cooker moments. There were many days when I had to sit in a darkened control booth and direct a cast of anchors, reporters, live trucks and photographers as we tried to report the directions of an out-of-control wildfire. (There was even one time I realized – in the booth – that the fire was about two miles from our home and moving fast to incinerate our neighborhood. That meant, as I was giving directions to everyone, I had to call Corey at work and ask him to please rush home and get our dogs out of their kennels before our house burned to the ground.)

TV news producers are infamous for losing their cool. I was determined to NOT be one of them. So I taught myself to take deep breaths, stay calm, speak kindly and ALWAYS think two steps ahead. (I also taught myself to ignore all bodily functions, but that’s not a practice I recommend.)

So. Back to the story. I helped Natalie out of her snow gear, all the while murmuring that she would be “just fine” and it probably wasn’t that bad and we would get ice on it right away to make it feel better.

“BUT IT HURTS SO BAAAAD!” she wailed.

I fought the urge to give her the Spock neck pinch and ushered her to the kitchen where I wrapped some ice cubs in a wet paper towel and applied pressure to the wound that used to be her lower lip.

After 10 minutes of ice and Mommy snuggles, she calmed down. The bleeding, which wasn’t that severe to begin with, had stopped. I was able to have her move the pink-tinged paper towel so I could assess the damage.

And my heart momentarily stopped beating.

Her lower lip had clearly exploded. Her inner lip was now a canyon of exposed flesh and angry purple and maroon bruises. The cut itself wasn’t a slice. It was more like eruption in the center of her lip.

I conceded, “Wow, Natalie, that looks really painful.”

“I konwb!” she whimpered back, her swollen lip already making it difficult to speak. “Ib really hurbs.”

I wasn’t ready to rush to the emergency room for stitches. But my confidence was shaken. I needed a clear answer.

So I called Corey. (In addition to being a Vulcan, he’s also king of sports-related injury, having broken most of the bones in his body and endured numerous rounds of stitches during his years of being a jock.) He agreed with my assessment that busted lips, no matter how horrific, aren’t that treatable. But he also agreed to come home within 30 minutes to view the carnage for himself.

Still unsure, I turned to Dr. Google, which directed me to domestic abuse web sites and blogs detailing drunken bar fights. (Translation: No help at all.)

As one final precaution, I called urgent care (while Tweeting about the incident). The nurse I talked to was sympathetic, but she agreed there was little point in taking our wounded eight-year-old to the E.R. “Our doctors never stitch a mouth wound unless it goes all the way through the tissue,” she assured me. “Just keep ice on it to help with swelling, take ibuprofen for the pain and she’ll be better in a few days.”

THANK YOU. That’s the clear answer I was looking for.

Corey arrived home shortly thereafter, which quietly ended the dramatic chapter of our Friday night.

And we all had smoothies for dinner.

The end.

Oh! And live long and prosper.


  1. Poor thing!

    I so loved the Vulcan/Spock references. I've always claimed I'm married to Spock. (Spock is asynonym for engineer!)

  2. Busted lips can be scary! My boys have had their share!

  3. Ahhh! Poor thing! Busted lips are not fun!
    Hope you have a great Monday!

  4. Youch, my lip hurts just thinking about it. Way to stay cool under pressure! I'm not so good around blood...

  5. Such an entertaining retelling of what I can only imagine was NOT fun for you, the semi-Vulcan, reformed over-reactor, prego mom of 3.5. Glad she was ok (at least in the ER avoidance sense).

  6. So sorry to hear about Natalie, but I applaud you for remaining calm. It made me smile to remember how you would refer to Corey as a Vulcan, back in our young married days, and brought back a flood of memories. Did Corey notice how well you handled the situation or is that standard for you now? Hope her lip heals quickly!

  7. Blargh! That made me a little nauseous to read. I'm glad she's better. I liked reading about your Vulcan hubby and how you obtained your cool-in-a-crisis ways! Al's a vulcan too and it drives me crazy when it's ME losing it, but I'm thankful he's that way when anyone else needs a nerve-pinch. I bet they'd have a lot to talk about, our two men. To say nothing of their two ladies.

  8. I'm glad she's okay! Way to go maintaining grace under pressure.

    Mouth injuries are always perplexing. Lips swell crazy-fast and the bleeding! Oh, the bleeding. The nice thing is that mouths heal quickly.

  9. I'm a Vulcan too, heartless and stone cold. "Suck it up and play" is my usual response...


  10. Oof - glad she's o.k. I find that I can handle blood and vomit, while husband gets mucous related duties (which make me absolutely wretch).

  11. Once Elliot bit an enormous hole in his tongue! But the nurse said not to bother coming in. It healed very quickly, but it was VERY traumatic for all involved.
    Hope Natalie's heals quickly too!

  12. Got sick at my stomach as I thought about seeing my child with the same injury. Glad she's better...and I'm sure the smoothie night was fun for all. Enjoyed visiting your blog.