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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Guide to Surviving the Emergency Room

Welcome to another addition of Mom Tip Tuesday.

A day especially designed to allow me to share what I know with all of you in my ever-changing-but-always-awesome series: “Dumb Mom’s Guide to the Child Centered Universe: helpful tips and tricks for moms with kids so smart they make her look sorta dumb”.

After another frightening eventful crack-head-attended visit to the emergency room this weekend to treat #3, owner of the highest fever ever, I figured I’d share my reluctantly acquired knowledge with all of the first time moms out there who have yet to experience their first trip to the ER with a bloody injured/feverish/hacking-up-a-bloody-lung/screaming-bloody-murder (and yes, pretty much every visit to the ER involves blood) infant or toddler.

So, enjoy today’s edition of Mom Tip Tuesday.

Dumb Mom’s Guide to Visiting the Emergency Room with a Child*

1.  Stop.  Drop.  And Roll.  The first step in making a trip to the ER is deciding if you really need to be there.  Obviously, if you have your toddler in your left hand and his pinky finger in your right, the choice is obvious: saddle up and roll out, or better yet, call 911.  They know what to do with a pinky fingerless two year old and chances are good that, if you are screaming, crying, running, jumping, or shaking your fists at the sky, you do not.  Leave that sorta stuff to the professionals.  But, if your little person is coughing and feverish and not all cracked-lipped and gasping you may find yourself hemming an hawing about what to do.  Go to the ER and pay a $100 copay for them to tell you he has cold?  Or wait it out ‘til morning?  Tough choice.  And here is my advice: trust your instincts.  If this cold “feels different” then it probably is.  Better safe then febrile seizing.  Believe me on this people.  They may not be harmful long term, but they are effing S-C-A-R-Y like nobody’s business.  And I’m talking, screaming, crying, running, jumping, or shaking your fists at the sky, scary.

2.  Be Alert.  Now that you’ve arrived to the ER, you have to be alert at all times.  The ER is a pretty spooky place, friends.  I’m talking antibiotic resistant bacteria, crack-heads-on-the-loose, why-is-that-dude-naked-wrestling-the-cops spooky.  It’s pretty much just like a scene out of a really stereotypical movie featuring stereotypical characters.  Basically this means it’s just a microcosm of the entire US of A.  Actually, it seems a little more frequented by the dregs of society (as for some reason they tend to get into more emergency-room-requiring situations than your everyday citizen), but at some point in every person’s life he or she is going to need the services of an emergency room.  Therefore, on any given Sunday (we actually were there on a Sunday night), you are likely to find the awesome waiting impatiently with the less than awesome members of the community for the one thing we all need to get better: morphine valium Prozac? antibiotics.  Point is, shield your baby (you really never know when your stretcher could be violently pushed into the wall by the meth head they left totally unattended and highly agitated right next to yours), be prepared to fight (the insurance company, the seriously-is-now-the-right-time-for-a-bag-of-Combos complacent triage nurse, or the random line-jumping bystander), and bring you hand sanitizer (for obvious reasons).

3.  Bribe them.  Start with the triage nurses; they hold the key to the ER kingdom.  They are like the evil gatekeepers of the secret controlled substance promise land.  But don’t try to do it with cash (pretty sure it’s immoral if not illegal, plus you can’t afford them).  Instead do it with 1)a pleasant, all be it urgent, attitude, 2)accurate and honest information, and 3)just a little bit of acting.  Let me explain.  I work at the hospital (even spent a year in the ER) and there are a few behaviors that get you pushed to the back of the list.  I’m not saying anyone is gonna let you die because you are a nasty biotch, I’m just saying that the people who come in ranting, raving, falling on the floor, cursing, screaming, and acting like full blown fools generally don’t get taken seriously.  What they do get is treated like the psycho-raving-lunatics they are, and a security escort, in case they need to be “subdued”.  So, if you want to ensure that you and your child are seen promptly and taken seriously, get your facts straight and your emotions under control.  But, a little acting sick doesn’t hurt either.**

4.  Be a good historian.  Time matters when you are dealing with an emergency.  So, make note of the interventions you tried at home, and ensure that you accurately record the time you tried them.  It makes a difference when he had his last dose of Motrin.  And, it does matter if you gave him one or two teaspoons.  Additionally, you need to be honest and comprehensive when sharing your child’s medical history.  A fact that may seem insignificant to you, may be the key the doctor needs to accurately diagnose your little dude.  Remember, you are not a doctor (unless you are) and neither is Goggle.  Give them all of the information so they can get it right.  They still may not, but without the whole truth they don’t really stand a chance.

5.  Calm the hell down.  I can’t say that I listened to  much of what Papa used to tell me as a girl, but he did say two things that I try to always remember in an emergency situation: Pay attention and DON’T PANIC.  Panic helps no one.  It scares your kids.  It causes you to make mistakes.  It entirely prevents #4.  It makes you difficult to deal with.  And it could easily lead to your demise (or your child’s).  So just don’t do it.  Dumb Dad is a panicer.  He doesn’t want to be.  He’s trying to stop.  Lucky for him he has me to keep a level head while he is effing going nutso trying to control himself. 

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P.S.  If you are wondering if the universe is literally trying to kill Dumb Mom rest assured that you are not alone.  I too am questioning exactly how long it will be before I lose the good fight as this week alone I suffered the most painful event since having a baby, a health insurance debacle, a nasty mud-butt-involved virus, and a trip to the ER for an undeniably ill 2 year old.  Go ahead, call me a super mom, I friggin’ deserve it!

*In case any of you are wondering, #3 is presently a-ok, but he was super-duper sick and feverish (104.3) Sunday with  an ear infection.  I.  Know.  Who knew ear infections could even make you have a fever that high?  And, he was a delirious-fever-talking mess.  He saw fairies or angels or something that had him speaking in tongues.  He had the rolling eyes and the twitchy legs and Dumb Mom and Dumb Dad and Pediatrician of the Day were all pretty freaked out

**Babies and young children are usually seen before older people with similar symptoms just because they are more vulnerable so, rest assured, that even if Mimi your mom comes in and goes all Lifeguard (aka crazy-lady-from-the-hood) on them, they will probably still help your kid in a timely manner.


Erin said...

You are supermom!
Sooo glad to hear #3 is okay. I hate the ER, and I can't ever keep my composure...I just tell them JUST FIX MY KID SO HE CAN BREATHE BEFORE I GO POSTAL! Is that calm?

DysFUNctional Mom said...

Ah, ERs. Such strange, bizarre places.
Great advice though, especially about figuring out if you TRULY must go to the ER!

Mimi said...

Still harping about the pool rules thing, are you? A person has one small, innocent, slightly neurotic, maybe psychotic, over-reaction at the local pool and, bam! Branded for life. I'm sure all the swimmers that were there have since moved on from there years of therapy and are living semi functional lives now. And...if I had not perceived a threat to my grandson, real or imagined, same thing, this could have all been avoided. So, let it go already.
Lovingly, Mimi.

Jennifer said...

I couldn't agree with no. 5 more. We've had our trips to the ER and it always seems to go a lot smoother because I'm so calm. Lucky for me I kinda shut down in an emergency situation and just focus on what needs to be done. After it is all over is when I freak.

Michelle Pixie said...

The ER scares me! I had to make my first trip this past year with #3 {a burn} for the first time with any of my kids and I was waiting for CPS to come take me away at any minute. Why do we feel like that? I need a tip on how to handle that!

Anonymous said...

Yikes and WOW. I am astounded by your control. You definitely earn super mom!
I hope you get all the illnesses behind you for good. Poor fing!

angie said...

Oh. my. stars. 104.3?

I'm glad you trusted your instincts. And, who cut off their pinky finger?

This is the best little tutorial ever. It's true. How to decide when to go to the E.R. , and HOw to act, or should I say, react?

Anonymous said...

Having spent more than my share of time at the E.R. (only infrequently as a patient) I know how scary a place it can be. More so with a child. Glad to hear he is ok. Good tutorial to share with people before they end up there.

FoggyDew said...

Great advice. I once spent a 12-hour shift in an ER when I was working as a reporter and everything you said is absolutly true.

Thinking back, with five kids (three boys), my mom probably made about 25 or so trips to various ERs with us (stitches, sprains, broken bones). The only times I remember her getting bent out of shape were when the HMO wanted us to go to an ER 20 miles away rather than the one just down the road. A little yelling and screamin' and we were headed just down the road. said...

ok - I LOVE this blog. I am going to be your newest stalker um did I say that I mean follower. It has been a long time since I have stopped blog hopping long enough to read one blog as long as I have stayed on yours!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Love it!


Dianna@KennedyAdventures said...

I love you, I love you, and .... I love you! Because? I am the keeper of the kingdom ER -- the dreaded triage nurse. I'm linking up my Rules of the ER as well.

Giving away two copies of the movie Extract starring Jason Bateman and Ben Affleck. Contest ends 4/2/10.
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