I did nothing but clean up one hot mess after another - all day!
The only thing that made it tolerable was a huge hug from an 8 yr old I saw in the ER two days ago.
She and her siblings (10, 4 and 1) had been brought in, by police, for physical exams after her older sister asked for help carrying a tray during the breakfast program at school.
When staff asked what was wrong with her arms - even when they saw how deformed and misshapen they were - they were still shocked when she replied her mother had beaten her that morning with a baseball bat and extension cord.
After the beating, this kid walked to school - 2 miles away - and almost made it through the breakfast line - before passing out from pain and elevated liver enzymes, consistent with blunt abdominal trauma.
Over the course of several hours, I spoke to the older children.
They were beautiful, articulate - and scared to death.
They also knew the company line... when the 8 yr old was asked how she got marks on her face and legs, she said "the cat scratched me".
Only the baby had been spared; the rest had scars and marks over all extremities and their bodies.
When we turned the oldest child over to assess her back, a 15 yr veteran Child Abuse Detective burst into tears.
Many heart-wrenching details, and several hours later, the older child was admitted to the hospital for care and the 8 yr old and her siblings were sent home with an extended family member - who had been prevented by the parents from seeing them for 5 months - because they had previously notified DCFS about their concerns.
The mom made a full confession to police - and has been charged with felony child abuse.
The stepfather, a registered sex offender, was also charged with felony abuse and endangerment.
I was visiting the oldest child today when the rest of the kids arrived for a visit too.
The 8 yr old immediately broke out in a huge smile, ran over, hugged me and saying, "I remember you... you're the lady who said I deserved to be safe and then made sure I was."
And that, my friends, is why I do what I do in the ER - and how, after singing at choir practice tonight
ps: the family doesn't even have a damn cat!