Life in the ER
Boy-child woke up last night at 11:30, yelling his fuzzy head off, complaining of stomach pains. I took his bent-over frame into the bathroom and we did the little “Do-you-have-to-puke-do-you-have-to-poop” dance, which usually produces one or t’other, but this time just elicited the most unusual groans and moans and cries of “Help me, mom, make it stop!”
That Freaked My Shite Right Out.
No fever, and pain in the middle of his belly, so didn’t think it was his appendix, but the screaming and moaning, oh, and the pressing of a big bath towel into his concave belly to ease the pain, oh, and the tears and grabbing and grimacing….
Enough to rip my heart clean outta my chest.
After 20 minutes of this, I mentioned “The Hospital”. Boy-child freaked out briefly, and with another wave of cramping and death-like nausea, thought it was a good idea.
I threw on clothes, grabbed the Puke Bowl, loaded up the boy, and ventured out near Midnight to the local emergency room.
What a place.
Have you been lately?
I mean, midnight in the ER?
It’s weirdly disorienting.
Doctors and nurses that seem to be on slo-mo.
Folks with chest colds and no insurance that have no other means to get well.
Homeless bi-polar folks you try not to make eye contact with.
Parents with toddlers who run everywhere, and you think, it’s MIDNIGHT, dad, she’s obviously not sick…try the pediatrician in the morning.
The gunshot wound you hear the family talking about.
The nurse and the cop opening up the ‘Family Room’ for a bereaved group of relatives.
The plasma screen tvs everywhere…plasma screen! With cable! Not fair!
My child, my pained, frantic child, who literally rolled around the waiting room floor trying to find a comfortable spot.
The eyes of the guy with the cold, crinkled up to say, “That boy needs to go in before me.”
Boy-child on my lap, his legs nearly as long as mine, perching like he was a baby again, pressing his head into the curve of my neck, me rocking him unconsciously, the Mom-Rock we never lose the rhythm of.
They got us into a room pretty quick, after a stop at Triage, where Big Burly Guy was training Obviously Frantic Mom-Like Woman. Boy-child nearly lost it when they pressed his belly, and he did more floor-crawling-around.
Once in a room, an actual room, with a door, not just a curtain, Boy-child curled up on the examining table. I covered him in the towel we’d brought to accompany the Puke Bowl and rubbed his shoulder, his thigh, and he flashed me a toothy smile and closed his eyes. He slept for nearly an hour while we waited to see the doctor. I dozed all of three uncomfortable chair-sitting minutes.
The best thing about the ER at night is the staff. That’s when they bring out Totally Handsome Resident Dude, and Unbelievably Nice Nurse Rita With the Juice Boxes, and Dr. Bob the Wonderful. Truly, if that were the experience every time at the hospital, I’d become a hypochondriac.
After his little nap, Boy-child felt better. By the time Totally Handsome Resident Dude came in, Boy-child was talkative, sitting, standing, smiling. He delighted Resident Dude with his matter-of-fact and very-grownup version of the stomach pains. A pee test ordered, taken, waiting, Dr. Bob the Wonderful poking and prodding and asking about when he pooped and did he fart?, and the fact that appendix problems can start as pains in the center of the belly with no fever which made me glad I brought him in anyway.
Dr. Bob said it probably gas, as his belly was ‘timpanic’, and his liver, spleen, and appendix were of normal size and sound.
Oh, and he said 40-50% of belly problems, doctors can’t explain.
It’s just something humans have to deal with.
Grown-ups can also be felled by “mysterious stomach cramps” and not know why.
By the time we left, near 3 a.m., Boy-child was dancing in the halls and stage-whispering, “I feel SO MUCH BETTER!” Drove home in the still night, tucked him in, shut down the house, and got into bed somewhere near 3:30 a.m.
Girl-child woke up around 4:15 a.m. from the thunder-and-lightning storm. I calmed her and cuddled her and finally got into my own bed, uh, I don’t remember when.
Maybe I got 3 hours sleep. I dunno. I’m at work and violating my self-imposed ‘No Caffeine’ rule today just to stay somewhat cognizant.
Boy-child is at day camp today, feelin’ groovy.
Someone brought in guacamole and chips, someone else brought in donuts, and I just made a fresh pot o coffee.
I think it’ll be a good day.
And I need to write 'thank you' notes to that hospital staff.