Our First Visit to the Children’s Emergency Room

I woke up feeling uncommonly good today. I guess I should have recognised it as a kind of foreshadowing.

As per my standard weekday operating procedure, I stumble-tripped into the kitchen for my bowl of cereal, and came face-to-face with my ashen-faced helper. (She helps us look after Katy from around 6.30 most mornings, until my mum-in-law is up. If Katy gets up earlier than 6.30, it’s on me and James to try and keep her entertained.) “I’m so sorry,” she said. “Katy fell just now when she was playing and hit her head on the crib. There’s a bump on her head.”

I abandoned my cereal and went to investigate. Katy was playing with her grandma, looking mostly herself but definitely a little grumpier than usual given that she’s a morning person. And then my mum-in-law filled in a very salient information gap, namely that Katy had vomited after her fall.

Back to the kitchen I went, with alarm bells blaring “OMG IT’S A CONCUSSION” in my head. I needed more information – time, sequence of events, etc – and I definitely needed some breakfast. And coffee.
My helper looked like she was going to throw up, so I told her we would get Katy checked out at the doctor and to please not worry herself sick because we weren’t about to blame her for an accident.

(Lesson 1: In a crisis situation, try not to neglect stakeholder management at any level.)

I might have had a bit of a bawl in the bathroom as I took the world’s most perfunctory shower. Then I rallied, got dressed, and went to wake James. Who, as it turned out, was really sick with a throat infection, and needed to stay in bed. Except that I couldn’t find Katy’s birth certificate, which we’d need to register her as an emergency room patient, so my poor unwell husband got turfed out to help locate it. My distraught helper packed the diaper bag but managed to omit Katy’s milk bottle and food, and it’s a small mercy I thought to check.

The rapidly unravelling morning finally cut me a break when my dad showed up for his usual morning playtime with Katy. I filled him in with a few words, and the three of us hauled ass to the paediatric A&E at KK Hospital. Grumpy baby was not best pleased at the strange turn that her day was taking, but she rolled with it like a champ.

That’s when we got our next break because we basically arrived at the best possible hour of the morning. At 8.10 am, the car park had plenty of parking spaces, so I didn’t need to get Dad to circle for a space while I went in with Katy. And there were hardly any patients waiting to be seen, which I didn’t think was even possible on a Monday morning. We got Katy to triage within 5 minutes of arriving, where a very cheery nurse took her vitals and did an initial assessment which strongly suggested that Katy did not actually have a concussion.

(Lesson 2: There are times when speed trumps everything else. Such as clean hair and a swipe of lip gloss.)

The emergency room started filling up soon after we made it through registration, but we still managed to see a doctor just half an hour after triage. The doctor took a full account of the accident, examined Katy thoroughly, and asked a lot of questions. She said that concussion wasn’t likely, but that Katy needed to be monitored for the first 4 hours after the accident and that she’d like us to stay around so she could see Katy again at the end of the 4-hour period. So back into the increasingly crazy waiting room we went.

Katy took a bottle and then a nap – and I was very, very glad that we saw the doctor before she went down for that nap, because at least I was able to tell that it was a regular nap and not concussion-induced drowsiness. And we waited some more. Dad got me a styrofoam cup of water while Katy slept on me in the Manduca carrier, which alone made me REALLY appreciate his being there.

Katy woke up in AWESOME spirits and decided the emergency room was great for doing laps and carrying out general exploration. This was when I was doubly appreciative of my dad, because it’s really hard to rein in a wobbly, overly-enthusiastic toddler in a space mostly occupied by sick kids. Dad, bless him, was more than up to being my relay partner in this non-stop race.

(Lesson 3: It is always a good idea to bring backup. As long as you bring the right kind of backup.)

There was a lady crying by herself near us and I just felt so bad for her. A doctor came out of the consultation rooms from time to time to confer with her about something, and she kept on crying harder after each time. I went and got her some water during one of Dad’s Katy-laps, and I hope it helped.

A little later, when she was called into another area by the doctor, a tween-age girl got up from a few seats away and followed her. I wasn’t sure if this girl was the one who was seeing the emergency room doctor. Or maybe there was a second kid being treated somewhere. Either way, she’d been sitting quietly a few metres away from her crying mom for a big part of that time. All of it just made me really sad.

(Lesson 4: Someone is always having a worse day than you.)

Katy got a clean bill of health, thank God. The doctor said that vomiting is a sign that there could be something wrong and that we did the right thing to bring her in, but that if it’s a one-off and not repeated vomiting, there’s a good chance that she’s fine.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on her for the next few days. But right now I’m just so glad my baby is okay.

(File photo of the not-concussed baby in happier times.)

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  1. Alli - April 13, 2015

    Oh how scary! I’m so glad Katy is ok and that things came together to arrive at that conclusion fairly painlessly. Seeing a doctor less than an hour after you arrived at the ER is a miracle in itself! Also LOVE the non-concussed baby photo.

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