WHAT THE PARENTING BOOKS DON'T TELL YOU: The Emergency Room, Your Home Away From Home
I just got word that the daughter of a former friend (an old friend of Seth’s that I lost in the divorce) has been having seizures. This is a little girl I held as a baby. I was at her first birthday party. She is an adorable child with lovely parents. Doctors don't know why, but there is most definitely “a spot” on her brain. The answer? Wait and see if it grows. We all know what that means: wait and see if it's cancer.
I'm no stranger to the wait-and-see game. Mine was in the form of ovarian cysts that ruptured (oooowww), kept reappearing, and required monitoring for a long time, before magically disappearing.
And that is just something that happened within my body. I cannot imagine anything as devastating as my child being seriously ill. Or worse: not knowing.
So when I got the news about this little girl, who is not much younger than my son, I said a quick thank you to the universe for all the trips I have made to the emergency room with Oliver.
When I sat down to write this, it was going to be a tongue-in-cheek kind of woe-is-me piece lamenting all the times I took my child to an emergency room. I was going to recount the horror of being surrounded by some seriously ill people for hours and hours while waiting to get my barfing and/or concussed toddler seen by the ER doctor. I was going to speculate on why babies wait until midnight to become seriously dehydrated.
Let me recount the ER visits I can remember off the top of my head:
1. He rolled off our queen bed when he was a baby and landed on his head.
2. Stomach bug, while we were out of town.
3. Stomach bug, while Seth was out of town and I was flying solo.
4. Another stomach bug.
5. Yet another stomach bug (Oliver gets dehydrated very quickly, almost always required IV fluids when he was younger).
6. Slipped on the hardwood floor (wearing socks, pretending to be a ninja) and landed on the back of his head. Concussion.
And that’s just what I can remember off the top of my head -- and that’s only Oliver, never mind the few trips I’ve made to the ER for my own issues: a.) A traumatic miscarriage with hemorrhaging b.) a bleeding stomach ulcer, and c.) severe lower abdominal pain that I thought was my appendix but ended up being that pesky ruptured ovarian cyst. And that is it, knock on wood. These are scary things, sure, but none were long-term. All were fixable.
At this moment, I am so grateful for all of those emergency room visits and all those hours spent sitting next to puking strangers. Because right now, my son is sitting next to me, playing Candy Crush on my phone, and there is not a single thing wrong with him. Right now, I am sitting here typing on my laptop and thinking about maybe eating a piece of Halloween candy, and I am fine. We are both healthy and safe in this moment. I am grateful and so, so, lucky.
Have you been to the ER so often that you feel like you should have some sort of frequent customer card? Like maybe a punch card, where you get the fifth visit free? Are your children accident prone or dehydration-prone, like mine?
And will you all please send good thoughts into the universe for my friend’s daughter? Thank you.
Somer is on Twitter: @somersherwood