Baby Bug’s First Trip to the ER

Why is my laptop in the kitchen on Baby Bug’s high chair? It is there because my stool has been banished to the outside patio and I need a place to sit when I play on my computer (during her nap of course). My stool, that stupid $%#!@ stool, got pulled over upon a poor baby who bruised her hand and cried bloody murder for so long and so hard that we had to take her to the emergency room.

Yep. Baby Bug got her first trip to the ER on Sunday. What a fun way to spend the day together as a family, right? Oh no.

I hate the ER. I know it’s a necessary evil and it could save our lives but it is the worst worst WORST place to while away your time when you are in distress. Especially when you are distressed about your little baby.

The ER is less efficient than the DMV. It’s a cocktail of DMV style administration combined with two-hundred some stressed-out, disgruntled, over-worked employees mixed with with all the pain in the world. Kids with axes stuck in their heads and death and bodily fluids! Then, add about a million years of red tape and insurance forms written by teams or lawyers and you have a…. Party!

I know it could be so much worse and it is in other countries but it is just maddening how things go down there. If only there was a better way. I know this whole subject is political and I really have no business getting on my soap box about anything to do with anything regarding politics. But there has to be a better way to run things. And our hospital is supposed to be one of the best hospitals!

We really didn’t need to go to the ER but there was that small chance that Baby Bug had fractured one of her hand bones (is that the proper way to say that?) and we didn’t want it to swell and cause us worse problems later in the night when the Emergency Room is even more crazy. She was crying more than usual and looking down at her puffy purple hand like it was really causing her some pain. It didn’t help that I didn’t realize it was her hand that was hurt and I went and lifted her by her hands to get her over the baby gate. Smooth move, mom. I felt horrible. My poor baby!

Four hours after we arrived at the ER, we decided that we really didn’t need to be there. Baby Bug was fine. She was putting weight on her hand all the time and wiggling all around like a little worm. She wanted me to walk her around the busy waiting room (holding her by her hands). She wanted to eat snacks (with her sore hand) from my secret stash in my purse. She wanted to make friends with all the other patients (and wave with her sore hand). She wanted to throw her pacifier down on the dirty floor (with her sore hand) and make me go rinse it off in the bathroom over and over and over again. She was FINE.

There were so many other people who were not fine. One guy was lying on the floor groaning in a pool of his own vomit, reminding me so much of myself when I visited the ER with my gallbladder illness. There was a three year old with a bloody eyeball being held by his dad who’s striped blue shirt was covered in blood. It was all so horrible and there we were with a perfectly healthy happy wiggly baby. It just seemed wrong. We didn’t belong there. We were wasting their time and ours.

But it got wrong-er.

I decided that we needed to leave and we needed them to rip up our paperwork so they wouldn’t have to bill our insurance and cause us a whole bunch of red tape headache. I approached the triage cubicle as politely as I could. I finally got a nurse’s attention and told her my intent. She understood but she told me I should wait because there were only three people waiting in front of us. “Just wait a moment,” she said. Something I heard a lot of. She would check on the list and see how much longer it would be. She could squeeze us in, and we really should stay, she implored. An hour later, we were still waiting.

I checked with her again. She rushed us back behind the swinging doors to talk to a discharge nurse who would “get us on our way”. Or so we thought. In reality, nobody was getting us anywhere. They checked Baby Bug’s chart and told us we really should stay because they could do an x-ray today and that would save us a whole lot of hassle. So we stayed.

We holed up in a little chair between the swinging doors, the nurse’s station and the hallway. Several more minutes went by. Charts were checked and lost and found and checked again. Somebody said somebody was “putting the order in” and then somebody would “walk us over to radiology.” So we waited some more. And some more, and then some more after that. Then someone came and took Baby Bug’s insurance card and had me sign a form that said I would pay through the nose if my insurance company decided not to pay. Then we waited some more while Baby Bug’s insurance card was off in some distant land being copied.

By now Baby Bug was two hours past her usual afternoon nap time and she was getting mighty cranky. Nothing the nurses and doctor’s couldn’t ignore, of course, since they are used to hearing much worse things day in and day out. But I really was starting to lose my cool. I just wanted to leave. Why couldn’t I leave? I really just want to get out of their hair. I know there are more pressing patients that need care. Just let me go.

Finally, I walked down the hallway and asked the nearest nurse to please direct me to the copy machine so I could retrieve my daughter’s insurance card and LEAVE. X-ray, schmex-ray. We could deal with this so much easier tomorrow with our regular doctor. We could probably walk over to radiology by ourselves and deal with it so much better but I realize they have procedures that need to be followed. I really don’t want to be the bad customer who rants and raves. I just want to cut my losses and get out.

Of course my words weren’t as eloquent as they should have been, Baby Bug was crying and my blood pressure was elevated. Things were said that should not have been said. It was another showdown in the halls of the hospital. The nurse had to raise her voice with me and explain that it would only be “a moment longer”. But I was done with “moments” by then. My baby needed to be home. There were other babies who needed their “moments” worse than my baby did.

Finally, we got the insurance card and Toby and I and Baby Bug stormed out the swinging exit doors. It’s just so maddening because what was accomplished here? Will they feel bad that the inefficiency of the system pissed off another customer and they lost a thousand bucks because we just couldn’t wait “a moment longer”? No. This probably happens every day. They’ll probably just write me off as another high strung mother who doesn’t understand how things work. I’m the one leaving with anger. Why? Of course I have the luxury of ranting about it on the internet but still. Nothing was accomplished. It was a waste of time.

What really is depressing to me is that I know I will have to go back. Baby Bug will probably get hurt again. It’s part of being a kid. I know I should be thankful that we even have an emergency room to go to. I know there are countries out there that don’t but I just am NOT ready to go through that again. Thankfully, this time we did it without Baby Bug being in major pain. I can’t even imagine the horror it would be if she were. I guess I’m just going to be a lot more careful about big stools that can be pulled over.

Edited to add by Toby: The most frustrating thing for us was that we didn’t want any special treatment. I understand why they are understaffed—half their money goes to paying for people who don’t have insurance or citizenship. We didn’t want to bother them at all. We thought it would it best for them if they would just delegate us somewhere else, like Radiology. But they are so handcuffed by all their stupid federal forms and purchase orders, that they couldn’t get rid of us to save themselves.