During the Labor Day weekend, I spent my Saturday night in the ER. My son had been sick for a week and started vomiting after dinner. Though we had dealt with 102 degree temperatures off and on all week, coughing fits, diarrhea, diaper rash, mucus and an eye infection, which all had prompted a visit to the pediatrician’s office a couple days earlier, we knew that things had gotten worse. A call to the on-call nurse lead to our fear: head to the nearest ER.
I was fighting a fever of 101 myself and a sore throat that riveled being on fire. Yet, with a sick baby, those things fade to the background. It was about him and making him better.
We arrived at Newton Wellesley Hospital at 5:30pm or so. It was ironic that just 10 1/2 months earlier, we had walked out those doors with our newborn in our arms. Now we were walking-in with him in our arms. Joy replaced with a bit of panic.
The nurses were efficient. We beat the Saturday night rush during a holiday weekend, which typically means too many people for a short-staffed-due-to-the-long-holiday-weekend Emergency Room. Yet, we were there for over five hours. Why? Because the labs are on holiday-staff and the doctors are on holiday-staff, which means a lot of waiting for one group to talk to the other. Yet, having been in the health care industry for 15 years, 5 hours was not bad on their end. Plus, we made due with a lot of prep on our end too.
I have a bag packed for the “going out” occasions. Similar to the bag that we all had packed, and had ready to go, for when we went into labor. I have a bag packed, ready to go, if we are at my in-laws (they have few toys), we have an impromptu meal in a restaurant (waiting for a table or a slow wait-person), or we otherwise are at some location having to wait and wait; an ER would be a great example.
The bag has a couple of books, 3 small toys and 3 medium sized toys. Some of those toys light up, crinkle, beep, sing, or have a peek-a-boo function. Spare batteries on the side. I have non-perishable snacks like Mum Mums, and a sippy cup where I can ask a nurse or hostess for some juice or water as we wait. I have a couple of magazines that have come in the mail, that I never have time to read, thrown in there along with some nutrition bars and a bottle of water. I have straps that hold the toys to a bar so they don’t fall on the floor and I have some travel wipes to clean them if they do. I am sure when he gets older, other items will include crayons and coloring books too.
I also have an iPhone. On it, I have a couple of iTunes applications like Peek-A-Boo Barn and Baby Apps. The former has various animals pop-out of a barn and make noises; Cow says MOO and a Sheep says BAA. The latter enables the screen to turn into a piano for sounds and colors, or into a cell phone with no accidential long-distance charges. The included iTunes has his favorite Baby Einstein songs, including Lullabies. As we waited for the IV and antibiotics, we turned down the lights and played the music to create a soothing environment. I also have notes for all of his immunizations, doctors’ names, and any medications he has been on, all in one document. So when I got bombarded with those inevitable triage questions, I just read off a list. Another option is to have a notebook or a passport book like this one from Magic Beans with all the relevant information.
He is also distracted by the camera on the iPhone. If you have an iPhone, you know that it makes a clicking sound when you take a picture. So we have a lot of pictures. Mostly blurry and of the ceiling and the floor, but as a result we have a strange array of pictures from our ER trip. An interesting side-effect or side-benefit depending on your point of view.
After 5 hours, we were running thin on things in the bag and on the iPhone, but we got through it. My husband and I also had something to do and eat as we waited; until he found the vending machine and the remote control for the TV.
All in all, it was great to know that I had these items ready to go. So when my heart was racing and we frantically searched for shoes and keys (sounds like the time I went into labor), it was great to know that I just had to grab the bag and go, and could spend the rest of my time making sure my little man got better.
And so he did.