First off, I really thought that I wouldn’t be a nervous parent. My mom’s a nurse so, instead of going to the doctor when we were sick, she would say things like, “eh – you’re fine. Here’s some tylenol.” I just assumed that this “eh – I’m sure things are fine” attitude would translate to my own parenting as well. The problem is that 1) that was before I was the primary caretaker for a completely helpless being, 2) I never thought about the fact that I can’t judge the seriousness of the situation by having him pinpoint his level of pain on a 1-10 scale, and 3) I have no medical training. Oh, and also, it was kind of a lot of work to get him here, and I don’t really want to do that again for awhile.
Apparently, however, I was incorrect. For the first few weeks of his life I was absolutely paranoid that we were doing things horribly wrong, he would be emotionally scarred for life, and we would go broke from all the psychotherapy he needed starting at the ripe old age of 8.
So, for the first few weeks, his eyes were a little weepy, but I had learned that apparently the weepiness in newborns isn’t uncommon (probably the only piece of encouraging news I’ve ever gotten from webmd). His eyes would get just a little, er, crusty (sorry about that image) after sleeping, but it really wasn’t anything substantial.
On the Saturday of a holiday weekend, the boy woke up and the eye thing was nasty. I’m not sure I’ll go into any more detail than that because I don’t want to alienate the audience (oh, and there are no words). I called every number I could think of – nurse hotlines, urgent care centers, on-call provider hotline, Navy-Marine Relief Society visiting nurse program, etc… I tried and tried to find somewhere other than the ER to take the boy. Did I mention it was the Saturday morning of a holiday weekend?
I’ve been trying to figure out what holiday weekend this was – searching for the picture I sent to my mom via text, and even looking for the status I’m positive I posted on Facebook – but I can’t find it. I think it must have been Memorial Day weekend, so when the boy was all of 9 days old.
Also, at 9 days old, it was molto difficile to get the whole famn-damily out of the door.
(heh… funny story: The first time the 4 of us went out to dinner when my mom came to help with the boy when the husband went back to work, my mom and I spent about 2 hours trying to get out the door – there was the feeding, the packing up, the getting dressed, the feeding again, the re-dressing due to baby puke, more packing up, and then the spectacle of actually loading all of us and the gear into the car. 2 hours. When we finally got in the car, my mom and I started talking about how difficult it is to get out of the house with an infant, to which the husband replied, “what do you mean? It only took us 20 minutes…” Needless to say, he was swiftly corrected by a still-hormonal wife.)
So, when I finally called every number that I could get my hands on, I determined that the only clinic open was the ER on base. Next time, I will remember that the military medical facilities are not the only ones in existence and will save myself heartache and frustration by going to a quick-care, rather than an ER.
When we finally got to the ER, it was packed. I did everything I could think of to find a seat for my un-vaccinated child that was not immediately next to someone who probably had polio or whooping cough or the plague, but the only place that was away from “the infected” was directly under the TV which was tuned to Hawaiian cartoons, and I’m pretty sure the husband would rather contract whooping cough himself than spend hours listening to that mess (based on the previous ER visit).
I think that this particular ER was deceitful, and the administrators had taken psychology classes to learn about the “foot in the door” concept. (This psychobabble is different from the foot in the door situation that would be the impetus of a visit to the ER.) They suck you in by attending to you quickly at first. After 2 hours of waiting after that, one might be tempted to say, “yeah – this isn’t worth it,” but you can’t leave, because you’ve already checked in. You’ve already invested. You’re on the hook.
As soon as you check in, you are ushered through the magical doors, out of the waiting room, and into the actual unit. I don’t know if I just forgot about the whole “triage” thing or if I thought that a nine-day old patient would get head of the line privileges, but I totally expected the doctor to come waltzing in any second to send us on our way less than 20 minutes after checking in. Yeah. That did not so much happen. After a quick triage, we were sent right back out to the waiting room with all of the people who were dying from horrible air-borne diseases.
And that is where we spent the next 4 hours (literally. 4.). The husband was just as infinitely patient during this waiting period as he had been the time before, which means not at all. This time was even more miserable because I didn’t have any change in the diaper bag, so I couldn’t even send him to go get snacks. Also, it was freezing there. The only ways for me to keep warm were to 1) steal the boy’s blankets and 2) “nurse” him, which was less about feeding, and more about snuggling for warmth and keeping the nursing cover draped over us.
A couple of times, though, I was pretty glad that we were forced to wait. One guy came in wearing flip-flops, swim shorts, and had apparently taken his shirt off to wrap it around his hand, which was bleeding through numerous layers of t-shirt. (I’m assuming numerous layers because this guy was not exactly fit – definitely not someone I was hoping to see sans-shirt.) He went back to triage, returned wearing a bandage and a hospital gown over his shorts, and was promptly called back to the “real” ER. So, it was kind of reassuring that the guy who very well might have been bleeding out after holding a firework as it exploded, was a much bigger priority than my infant with the crusty eye.
Across the aisle from us, there was another gal that had an infant who was apparently born on the same day as the boy. In my hyper-hormonal state, I panicked for about 1/3 of a second thinking, “holy crap! maybe our babies were switched at birth like that horrible disney show that I keep hearing about when I’m watching disney movies on TV!” And then it dawned on me that she was hispanic, and it probably would have been noticeable if there had been some mistake.
Anyway. 4 hours later (literally – I know this because the husband kept updating me every 3 minutes about how long it had been), we were taken back past the triage area – yay!! – and into a partitioned room where the boy was examined and the doctor said he had a minor eye infection due to a blocked tear duct, prescribed an antibiotic cream, and finally sent us home after 8 minutes. 4 hours of waiting for 8 minutes of exam. That seems like an efficient ratio.
All-in-all, it was not my favorite way to spend a Saturday morning/afternoon. I have since realized, though, that this was probably not the last time that the boy will need to go to the ER at an incredibly inconvenient time, when the ER is the busiest it gets over the course of an entire year.
Hopefully, though, it will always be on the eye-gunk level, and not on the loosing-appendages level.