I firmly believe that the emergency room is the worst place on earth, second only perhaps to the DMV. (We found ourselves there twice last week for incidents of severe pain in Henry's stomach.) I also firmly believe that I have a lousy pediatrician who sent me, crying, eight-months-pregnant, and very frightened, to the ER to sit and wait (and wait and wait) with my screaming, writhing child (who, incidentally, calmed down as soon as we got into the car to drive to the hospital.) After all that waiting, here's the dialog that finally prompted me to leave the ER without treatment on visit #1:
Me (to the woman sitting next to me in the waiting room): So, why are you here?
Her: I think I broke my back.
Me (horrified): Oh. How long have you been waiting?
Her: Two hours.
Me (even more horrified): Oh, so we could be here a while?
Her (looking at Henry, who, by this time, appeared perfectly fine): yea, and they see you in order of urgency, so looking at him, I'd say you'll be waiting a long while.
That was my cue to take my child home for what I think he really needed (a nap and the comfort of home.) And we left.
When he woke up from his nap, we had a repeat bout with the writhing pain, labored breath and inconsolable crying. So we headed to the ER again -- this time to one closer to our house. Again, the crying stopped as soon as we got in the car, but I pressed on in grim determination to find out what was going on inside his body. His condition improved dramatically after the triage nurse administered a dose of children's Motrin (for the 102 degree fever.)
Here's what prompted us (Nate was with me by this time) to leave the ER sans treatment, the second time:
After an hour and a half of waiting, my child was literally skipping and running back and forth past the other hacking, moaning, bleeding patrons in the ER waiting room. I thought we were safer to leave than to stay sitting (waiting) next to the large man who was rocking back and forth, coughing spewtum into a hanky.
So, though we waited for more than three hours, in two different emergency room waiting areas, we were never actually seen by an ER doc and Henry seems to be fine. Apparently, he can't come within five miles of a stomach bug without coming down with it, and apparently there was a nasty bug going around that caused several of his little friends to come down with high fevers and at least one other little girl to have similar bouts with stomach cramps/pain.
He describes the incident as "that one night I had a rock in my tummy and it didn't go down the hole." He is such a dear -- during one particularly pain-laden moment, we were both sitting on the bathroom floor, crying, contemplating that second trip to the ER. When he looked up and realized that I was crying too, he asked, "Does your tummy hurt too, mom?" and then got up and unrolled a few squares of toilet paper to wipe my tears with.
Maybe that's why it hurts me so much to watch him suffer because I know better than anyone else on earth what a sweet little heart beats inside his ailing body.