Tuesday, December 12, 2006

People watching in the ER

I have a new admiration for the Hospital for Sick Children, aka Sick Kids. Why, you ask? Because my oldest son and I just spent the day, the whole day, in the ER, with the world's most voluminous bloody nose.

Yes, I tied up a world famous ER with a mere bloody nose. To be fair, the pediatrician told me to go there when I described the nose that bled profusely, seriously, and disgustingly for a solid hour from 8:30 am in the car on the way to school until 9:30 when we met the nurse at the desk. In between, I had let him out at the school door because the blood looked so itty-bitty, felt guilty about abandoning my child, ran back to his class, held his head while horrible things came out, and rushed him back to the car.

It dried up as soon as the nurse looked him (*Sigh*) and I was embarassed to have wasted the hospital's time, until it started again for an hour or so, and back and forth it went for most of the day. We were seen right away by a nurse, checked, and then waited forever to see a Doctor. I didn't mind because lots of other kids were coming in with serious illnesses and injuries. And they certainly ranked above a bloody nose, right?

(How do I know the following details for sure? I listened in through the thin-as-gossamer "privacy" curtain, duh. To make up for my unintentional nosiness, I did make sure large piles of tissues were close to anyone crying, and if they looked up at me, I tried to smile and say something helpfulish.)

People who obviously rank above a bloody nose on the bad events scale:

Babies coming in who were being transferred from other hospitals to the NICU.

A girl whose fingers had been broken by being slammed in a school door by a bully (she needed surgery, and may have suffered permanent nerve damage.)

A seriously disabled child, confined to a wheelchair, having problems with a feeding tube.

Heartbreaking, really truly awful.

And in the category of "Stories I couldn't believe were true":

4-year old girl has severe diaper rash, to the point where she has open sores on her rear end. She also has some sort of gastrointestinal problem that is making everything worse. This has been going on for 2 months now. So now she is screaming in pain at the mere anticipation of the doctor or nurse coming in. In the end, I hear that the kid no longer eats normal food, because her mother has been forcing mineral oil down her throat, mushy cereal, and endless bottles of juice and milk. Not cups, bottles...and no her mother has never used diaper cream to clear up the rash, or tried encouraging potty training.


Instead the woman is convinced her daughter is either "allergic to her diaper", or "has a disease". I watch in amazement as the doctors gently explain that 4 year old children need normal food, and that a paste-like diaper cream is mandatory, perhaps they could think about ending diapers, hmm? And since the X-ray has shown that her distended stomach is jammed full of umm, waste, the little girl will need a prescription to clean her out just this once, but after that, no more mineral oil, no more giant bottles of juice & milk, and what the heck, some follow-up visits to her Family Doc to check on the sores and ensure the plan is carried out? A reasonable and calm plan, one she might follow only because "Sick Kids told her to do it."

The parents are both seemingly intelligent people, over 30, and yet---I feel a desperate need to smack them with a large Bad Parent Stick. How do those nurses & docs do it? How do they sit there and treat people with respect in the face of such obviously crappy parenting. I could not do it. It was all I could do not to get up, rip aside the curtain, and scream, "You stupid asshats! You don't deserve a child!"

But I didn't. I was quiet and discrete and Canadian. I held the packing bandages up to my own kid's nose until he stopped bleeding, got our test results, got the referral to the ENT, and quietly left, thanking every nurse and doctor I saw.

The staff at Sick Kids are awesome. I love you all to bits.

I'm sure someday someone will see this post and wonder if it's true, sorry guys, but Christ, I could not make this shit up if I tried. Hmm, and as I'm rereading it, I'm thinking I'll get the Bad Parent Stick out and tranform it into a Bad Bully Stick, and track down the school bully above and take all my hormonal aggression on him. What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. Hope your son is better and I hope someone called Children's services to make sure that family gets some help.