I still cry as I type this story today. A little over a month ago, my son had his first hospital emergency room experience. And as I recall that day, I know that this event and all the clichés that go with it are not unique.
After having dinner at the kitchen table one evening, my antsy twenty-six-month-old son was ready to run into the living room to watch his cartoon. As I stayed at the table finishing my dinner, I saw it happen just a few feet away. My son climbed onto the living room chair, stood on it, and put his weight towards the back of the chair. The chair toppled over, and he hit the floor. He was on that chair for less than five seconds! My mother’s intuition told me it was a bad one. I cannot explain why, but I just knew.
The skin of children this age is not pliable. My son did not have a broken bone or even a bruise, but his right pinkie finger hit the hardwood floor so hard that his skin ripped open quite badly. Hence, we were off to the emergency room.
A man was in line in front of us with an “eye problem.” He looked like he could see to me! When he continued to yap it up with the check-in clerk, I grew extremely impatient. Can you imagine how impatient Wesley was? The efficiency of checking in left a lot to be desired.
Once we were finally seen, the hospital staff tried to make me feel better by offering words of advice such as, “This happens often. You should expect it.” “Boys have it especially bad.” “This is your first ER visit. You’ll be here a lot.” The nurse was trying to keep me calm, and I thought to myself, “Don’t bother, nothing’s going to work!”
Confining my son in a straitjacket definitely did not help. Being immobilized like that would be enough to freak anyone out. The use of “the board,” as they call it, is often used for children of his age, as it is considered safer than the use of general anesthesia. Instead of putting him to sleep, the doctor gave him numbing medication by injection directly into the exposed wound. It was very painful for my son. When this was happening, I felt that the harder I cried, the less my son would cry … that I could take some of the pain away from him. I still do not know how many stitches he received. There were too many to count.
I know that I am not the first mother to experience these feelings. It is easy to generalize these events, but hearing about them doesn’t prepare one for experiencing them, such as:
- The accident happened in less than five seconds!
- Mother’s intuition knew it was bad.
- I grew impatient when we were made to wait in line while my child was in pain.
- Even after hearing all the words of reassurance, it did not help me as a parent to feel any better.
- As parents, we would rather bear pain than have our children experience pain.
That evening, I told the ER doctor, “You seem like a really great doctor, but I hope to never see you again after tonight.” I truly hope I won’t be returning anytime soon.