Wednesday, September 12, 2007

So how was your Monday?

Monday, as Mondays are wont to do, started off badly. Harlow's eczema was getting worse, and finally admitting to myself that my daughter had inherited my dreaded, lifelong affliction, we headed out for an 8:30 AM appt. at her new pediatrician's office. Except, I got turned around and phoned ahead that we'd be running a few minutes late. I was parking my car when I got a phone call from the doctor's office. They'd cancelled my appointment because I wouldn't have time to fill out the paperwork. I walked inside 60 seconds later and filled out the paperwork, which took me all of 2 minutes, beating the other 2 patients who had 8:30 appts. No dice. I was rescheduled for 11:30, so I shuttled us back home and tried to make the most of my time. When we finally went back, I was pissed to learn they had scheduled me with a different doctor than the one I had specifically requested. I was disappointed that my replacement just didn't seem very helpful. With a little black cloud hanging over me, I went back home. I can't even remember why my mom was over. She just saw me, read my energy level, and immediately asked what she could do. She went to work on the kitchen. I had Harlow in my arms and was headed upstairs when my mom asked me a question. Deciding not to be rude and conduct a conversation behind the kitchen wall, I turned to head back down the stairs when suddenly there was no stair under my feet. I fell, and my daughter flew out of my arms.

I replay that moment over and over. In the days immediately following her birth, I literally had panic attacks while wondering what hard surface in the house was going to be the babykiller. The concrete kitchen floor terrified me. The entry was suspect. But in my gut, I knew that when the moment happened, when I tripped or fell, I was not going to drop her.

And there was my baby face down on the carpet. (Thank you, carpet.)

My mom came running as did the cats and the dog, and for what seemed like the longest frozen second, we all just stared at her inert body on the floor. Then suddenly I was flinging animals off the landing while my mom scooped Harlow up and held her up for inspection. She looked stunned, then worked her mouth in this peculiar way, and my first thought, bizarrely, was that her teeth had been knocked in, and then I realized she didn't have teeth and then suddenly she was wailing, and my body flooded with relief because she was crying. She wasn't dead. At that moment I was so grateful to still be nursing her, and she latched on desperately, calming a little but probably not helped by the trembling body against her. My mom called the pediatrician who advised that after 30 minutes if she was still crying uncontrollably, we should take her to the ER. I took Harlow over to the big green chair where we curled up and waited. She was still teary, but soon she stopped and smiled and cooed and everything seemed to be fine. And then I would move her and she would start wailing again. Something was definitely wrong, but for some reason I was more scared of going to the ER then waiting around for her to magically get better. I made the dreaded phone call to Caleb and we left for Le Bonheur.

When I was eight years old, I went to Le Bonheur for a herniectomy. My memories of the hospital were of cheery, bright staff, cherry flavored anesthesia ( I got to pick) and a magical room that was stocked floor to ceiling with toys, one of which I got to take home. When I carried my daughter into the waiting room at 2:45 PM, the first thing I saw was people. Everywhere. Crammed into the waiting area, splling into the entry way and to the parking lot beyond. My stomach dropped to my feet. We waited to sign in. For the line asking for "ailment," all I could think of was "dropped." The dramatics paid off as the triage nurse quickly asked to see Harlow. That was the only quick that would happen that day. Four hours later, I'd had time to check out my fellow parents in misery. I was starting to understand why hospitals were overcrowded. None of the kids waiting for care seemed to be in a state of emergency. Their parents, who most likely didn't have insurance, did not have anywhere else to take their kids. I was torn between feeling incredibly sad for these people and extremely pissed that my potentially broken child was having to take a backseat to a cough. Finally a nurse came out to address the crowd, explaining that all the beds were full and for the time being, they could not admit anymore patients until others were discharged. The saddest thing? No one reacted. It was a room full of people used to being disappointed. Unexpectedly, just a few minutes later, Harlow was taken back, and then the night just got harder. The 2 hours that followed are too raw for me to write about in detail. Suffice it to say, there were many attendants, many needles poked repeatedly into my daughter's skin and lots of jostling and prodding that caused her to make sounds I never want to hear again.

I think six or seven hours had passed before Harlow was wheeled down to radiology, her body dwarfed by the giant hospital bed. At this point, we had started to feel pretty confident that her head was ok but something was definitely not right with her leg, evidenced by her not using it at all. They took the x-rays and we were sent back to our room where we smiled and kissed our baby girl who, miraculously, was smiling and laughing after hours of no sleep, needles, and that whole being dropped thing. The doctor strode confidently into the room and announced that Harlow was fine. He had looked at all the x-rays, and he did not see anything that bothered him. Caleb and I looked at each other.

"What about the leg?" one of us asked.

"What about the leg?" he replied. Caleb and I looked at each other again.

"The leg. The leg that is hurt. The leg that everyone who has come into this room and looked at her and said yep, something is going on with that leg, leg." I felt my face go hot with anger. "Didn't you order an x-ray for her leg?"

"Um, of course I...did," he said as he backed out of the room. Caleb and I looked at each other in shock. Finally he jumped up and marched out of the room. He came back in seconds later, ready to punch a hole through the wall.

" I just heard him say get exam room 7 ready for radiology immediately."

So it turns out that the doctor had not ordered the xray for the leg and that "immediately" at Le Bonheur translates to about 2 hours. An extremely pissed off nurse (pissed at the doc, not us) explained that there was a literal sea of stretchers waiting for xrays. So we waited.

We finally got sent back down to radiology for more xrays and then Pissed-Off Nurse came to see us in our exam room.

"It's broken." She said something about a hairline fracture and seeing it under a magnifying glass it was so small, but all I could hear was broken. I broke my baby. The only thing that gave me comfort was that she had beat the doc to the announcement. When he finally showed up to explain the injury, we gave him a "yeah, heard it." He was clearly bummed that he'd been robbed of his moment. He explained that she had sustained a buckle break that would take 3-4 weeks to heal and that she would need a cast for the duration. And then lo and behold, he apologized. He said he was sorry for not ordering the xray when he should have, and Caleb and I both took some comfort in that accountability could be found even here. I was still extremely pleased he was denied his moment.

The ortho resident worked up the cutest cast you'll ever see, and we finally got to take our baby home. She's on the mend, and Caleb and I are working our way toward it. She is extremely bored, and she constantly voices her displeasure at being trapped on her back or shuttled back and forth from swing to stroller. But if not for the cast, you'd never know anything was wrong. All I care about it?

She's home.


Sweet Sassy Molassy said...

Oh, you poor thing! What a nightmare! That moment comes for all of us at one time or another, so try not to beat yourself up too much. There was nothing you should or could have done to prevent that fall.

Just for future reference, Baptist East emergency room is the way to go. Much less waiting, much easier experience.

Chip said...

Jeez, that is horribly traumatic. So sorry for all that.

There's a reason that I'm in the business I'm in-- the level of patient care is in desperate need improvement.

Stephanie said...

Bless your heart! I hate that you had to go through that. I hope you can let yourself off the hook soon, though- you are not a bad mother!

Stacey Greenberg said...

having visited my share of emergency rooms in the past year i have to say lebonheur is the worst. gtown methodist is second. we actually had good results at methodist in midtown.

i plan to get my own supply of the glue they use in lieu of stitches asap and there's nothing like having your very own orthopedist. especially one who can see grown ups and kids.


RJA said...

This is why I don't have kids.