I know I’m biased, but I believe that my son has the most objectively adorable face I’ve ever seen. He’s also attempted to destroy his face approximately 4,782 times. Our first ER visit for a facial injury happened when he was two-years-old.
We went to a party at an un-named person’s home. (Identity removed to protect said person’s reputation. I promise, she is ordinarily a very wonderful and responsible person. And no, this person is not me. Or at least not that I’m admitting.)
My friend had a wall with built-in shelving from floor to ceiling, and for some reason, every single shelf was stocked with wine glasses. Raymond, my enterprising toddler, was always on the lookout for new ways to extract years off of the end of my life. So, naturally, the wall-o’glass-and-death-shards was his first stop.
No sooner had I asked, “So how do you keep your kids from breaking those glasses?” than Raymond demonstrated for us exactly how a kid could pull it off. Standing mere inches from me, my toddler grabbed a glass, dropped it on the floor, and fell, face-first, into his handiwork.
I watched the scene in slow motion. No, that’s not right. I watched the scene in real time. My body reacted in slow motion. I dove for him. I missed.
When I scooped him up, blood was gushing from his eye. It was like something out of The Omen. Or Psycho. Or one of those first aid videos your teacher made you watch in middle school health class. (Was that just me?)
Needless to say, I was petrified. Fortunately for me (and Raymond!) one of my relatives at the party was a pediatrician. I dashed around the house with my son pinned to my chest until I found him. He gave me this sage advice: “You need to go to the ER.”
Well, then. Off we went. All together, when you include every member of my immediate family, we have been to the Emergency Room 9 times, 2 of them via ambulance.
(By the way, I know that sounds like a lot, but one of those times was me thinking I was having an appendicitis when it turned out that I was just constipated. Please don’t make me tell that story.)
If you have never been to the ER with a child, I envy you. Let me give you a quick run down of what it’s like:
Just kidding. There is nothing about the ER that is quick. It is long. So long. You will stand in line after line. There are lines for presenting ID’s, lines for checking in, lines for the bathroom, the vending machine, the one outlet where you can charge your phone.
You’d think that the fact that this place has “Emergency” in its name would mean that everything would be moving quickly. It’s not. There are no doctors and nurses rushing around or EMTs hurrying gurneys down the hall. I never once saw anyone in the ER run.
And aside from the white noise of humming machines, it was pretty quiet. So when the guy in the next cubicle started a rather personal and embarrassing conversation with whomever that indiscreet woman by his bed was, my son and I were treated to every lurid detail. (I’ll spare you. There are some things you just can’t un-hear.)
I wanted to share with you a few mistakes I made with my first ER visit in the hopes that you can avoid them, should you ever join the exclusive club of parents who have watched blood gush from their children’s faces. (I wish you the best of luck.)
First, I had no idea which hospital had the best pediatric ER, or even that there was such thing as a pediatric ER. The night that Raymond cut his face on a wine glass, I took him to the ER closest to our house. This place is an ER only. There is no hospital attached to it, no pediatric specialist. They didn’t even have simple little “extras” to make waiting around for hours on end with an injured child a little less horrible. Like toys, kid movies, or vodka.
The majority of our time there was spent in a huge waiting room filled with adults watching the news under unforgiving fluorescent lights. And since Raymond was so little, and it was getting so late at night, he was TIRED. Fortunately, I’d brought my stroller with me. I wanted to take him for a little walk outside, away from the lights and the TV, so that he could fall asleep.
So I told someone who looked very official sitting behind a desk where we’d be, in case our turn came up. She told me that was fine, that she’d come get me. A half hour later, I went back in just to check, and we’d been skipped! I had to wait another hour with a fussy, tired, injured toddler who STILL hadn’t fallen asleep.
Contrast that experience with the time that I took Sophia to a hospital with a pediatric ER that is about 20 minutes from our house. We were able to sit the entire time we waited. All of the staff–not just medical personnel, but administrative workers too–were specially trained to work with children.
The room was decorated with cartoon characters, they showed kids’ movies on their TV’s, they were patient, kind, and accommodating. They gave Sophia a room that had space for a parent to sit comfortably. They even had a “Child Life Specialist” who came to our room to offer Sophia toys, books, movies, an iPad–anything that could help distract her from the painful medical stuff that no kid wants to go through.
Depending on where you live, you may or may not have a pediatric ER close by. But please, right now, while you’re NOT in the midst of a medical crisis, research the hospitals in your area to find out what’s available. Ask other moms who live near you if they have recommendations. It will save you so many headaches.
Another mistake I made was not knowing that there are a whole lot of emergencies that can be treated in an urgent care center, and you don’t have to go to the ER. (And since my ER co-pay is roughly the same price as a Ferrari 250 Testa Rosa, this is important info to have!) Even if your child’s eye is gushing blood like my little face planter, there’s a pretty good chance that a doctor in an urgent care center can stitch it up.
Those places are usually cheaper, faster, and easier to get to. Find out which urgent care centers are nearest you, and ask your friends if they’ve ever used them. Trust me, you’ll be thankful you did the research if you even happen to need it.
Has your child ever had a medical emergency? What’s your ER story? I’d love to hear from you!