Bad Mom,  Bug,  raving lunatic rant

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.


  • Annika

    It never ceases to amaze me when I hear stories of nurses being impatient and angry with patients. They work for you! I’m glad you stood your ground and did the best thing for Baby Bug.

  • MomnPop

    Oh man! What a nightmare. That sucks. That hospital sounds awful. I would’ve totally flipped out in that situation. So glad she’s okay though. Whew!

  • whoorl

    Hmm, reminds me of my preggers ER visit to the same hospital. They suck. Oh, and be on the lookout for nasty illnesses – I caught the worst bug when I was there last year.

  • Ariel

    Oooooh, poor baby. I have a little too much experience taking my baby (husband) to ERs (he’s a bike racer), and we’ve figured out that smaller community hospitals’ ERs are generally much quicker to get into if you have a non-life-threatening emergency. Is there a hospital near you that doesn’t have a Level I trauma center? The sickest people won’t go there, and ambulances won’t take serious injuries there, but you’ll get great care for minor injuries/illnesses. For example, here in San Francisco, we avoid UCSF (and wouldn’t go near General), but little St. Mary’s is great.

  • OMSH

    I have been there too many times. Too many times. However, let me give you a peace. When your baby has a badly bruised hand, you might feel like second fiddle. They are terribly slow and terribly inefficient.

    When, however – and God forbid, you should ever race in with your child not breathing … or barely breathing … you get tended to immediately. Doors open, paperwork is shoved to the side, nurses and doctors appear out of nowhere. No one asks for your insurance card. It functions as it should. At least that has been our experience now … um 3 or 4 times with our baby (now 4).

  • salliekat

    sorry about the accidento! it won’t be the last run to the ER. sigh. hope it’ll be a long time ’til the next one.

    a friend of mine opened up a thing called QUICK HEALTH in california. i dunno if they offer xrays tho but they do stitches. ;-)

    on the other hand, LOOK HOW CLEAN YOUR PLACE IS!!!!!!!! WOW!!!!

  • gretchen

    I have been to our Children’s Hospital ER twice in the past year. And it is like Hell on earth. The first time was with my 6-year-old who had pneumonia. The second time was with my 2-year-old who had “nursemaid’s elbow” (watch out for that- it’s kind of like their elbow gets dislocated by being pulled on- it’s pretty common). During the second visit I mentioned to the nurse how I felt that she worked in Hell on earth. I think she was offended, although I was really trying to (awkwardly) compliment her…

    Hope you don’t have to visit again! (And if you do, I’ve heard that if you are “referred”- your doctor calls ahead to tell them you’re coming- things move faster.)

    Also, awesome news about the housecleaning. I keep hoping to add that to my budget someday soon.

  • Laura

    it’s a shame, really..the state of medical care in this country. i agree with you about the having no right to be on the political/medical soapbox, but still. you’d think as advanced a country as we have, we could get our basic needs taken care of without all of the rigamarole that dealing with insurance and lousy service entails. but i guess it could be worse. it’s just sad that people (not you guys) who can’t afford medical care can’t get it. one of my good online friends has a pituatary tumor, and he can’t afford medicine for it so it’s causing him problems. it’s crazy. ahem.

    sorry about Baby Bug’s hand. poor thing. hopefully my kids don’t take after me, because i am the clumsyiest gal around and they’d be in for LOTS of trips to the ER i think. but hopefully by the time i HAVE kids, things’ll progress a little better.

  • Kedge

    I know that road! I learned along time ago two magic words to use with gramma; I tell the triage nurse she’s a heart patient with diabetes. (And COPD, CAD, and a history of lung failure, kidney failure, heart attack.) For me, I go to a local private emergency clinic instead of the hosp. There are several around here that are open especially after office hours. Short waits. Aunt K and I went there for her cronic infection, got a prescrip and were on our way in an hour.

  • Sistina

    So sorry Bug! Glad nothing’s broken. E has a fat lip from falling just this morning. She hasn’t mastered walking around the toys instead of over them. They’re 3 weeks apart and well into the abuse victim stage otherwise known as toddlerhood. It’s hard not to hold your breath constantly, isn’t it?

  • Sheree

    Ah, poor BB and poor you and Toby! I learned very quickly that the LAST place you want to go when something is wrong with you is the ER.

    Find out where your nearest urgent care clinic is- you can use an urgent care for almost everything. They are much faster, and if you are too sick/hurt for them to deal with, they will send you to the ER (and often you get to skip the waiting in the triage room at the ER).

    Another alternative is to use a smaller hospital. I”m assuming you went to Hoag- which is super busy all the time. You can always try Orange Coast Memorial (in Fountain Valley near the 405) if you need ER help, but aren’t in an extreme emergency.

    I”m glad all finally turned out ok- good to hear BB is doing much better.

  • Heather

    I work for a medical billing company and can tell you that if you had left before ever seeing a physician then you would not be billed for that. I’m sorry that they took her insurance card and disappeared with it. I’m sure that was the only thing keeping you there. That ER sounds absolutely awful. Poor Baby Bug and family.

  • little miss mel

    So sorry to hear about your trip. Rt went to the ER last summer. We thought he swallowed glass. We felt the same way you guys did. He acted just fine compared to all the other people. After an xray and 4 hours of our time, no glass. Luckily. Hope all of you get back to normalcy soon!

  • Samantha

    Sounds like pure hell – and nothing like Grey’s Anatomy, right? :) Hopefully everything will be fine with sweet Bug’s hand and no germs will have followed you home. We can hope for small mercies, can’t we?

  • Sarah

    Miserable. So sorry you had to go through that. I’ve got a 15 mo old, and she’s always hurting herself. If you’re interested, you might want to check out homeopathic remedies. They have been a godsend for me. They are natural and safe for babies. I keep a vial of Arnica in my pocket for the frequent bumps and bruises. It helps with shock, bruising, swelling, aches, pain… My baby can be screaming bloody murder but calms down immediately when I give it to her, and the bruising is always reduced. Granted, there is always a time and place for conventional medicine. I’ve just had such wonderful results with homeopathy I want to shout it from the mountaintops and make sure all moms know about it.

  • Jamiae

    I’m glad she’s OK…hours at the ER sounds so frustrating. You all did the right thing by taking her. You never know and I think it’s best to err on the side of caution. I totally understand your frustration, too, about just wanting to simply head out the door and not waste their time (or yours.)

  • Pam

    just reading that was frustrating, by the end i was saying “just let her leave!” outloud lol although i don’t have a child to take to the er, i have been there on serveral occasions with my diabetic grandma when she was having chest pains and they wouldn’t feed her FOREVER and keep her in a crappy bed that hurt her for sometimes almost a day, i hate the whole medical system, i should move to england

  • Lexi

    If there’s a Children’s Hospital out there, do they have urgent cares? Lotsa’ times that’s faster, and they’re better w/kids bc that’s all they see.

    That really sucks. I’ve done the ER thing w/my kid, and you’re right- it’s a neccessary evil.

  • BeachMama

    I am so sorry you had to make a trip to begin with. It is so hard to tell with kids how hurt they really are. And when you decide that she really isn’t that bad and try to do the right thing, they try to keep you there!

    Despite having National Healthcare here, we still have similar trouble with ER’s. There are many people who go who could just see their DR. and then there are the ones who should be there that have to wait longer because you got there first. It is a tragedy for sure.

    I truly hope that is your one and only trip to the ER for a very long time. We have been very fortuante here, going on 3.5 years and not a trip in sight. Many bangs and bumps but thankfully all were worked out with a trip to the Dr. I hope the same follows you. Sadly, I have been to the ER four times in the last 3.5 years, funny eh?

  • Mary O

    Oh, how frusterating. I was livid the other day when my 13-month old son and I had to wait an hour for his pediatric dentist appointment. I mean an HOUR is too long for a baby to wait… so I can’t imagine how it was for you.

  • LVGurl

    Why is it that these kind of crises always happen on weekends or holidays, forcing a visit to the ER?

    I hope baby bug’s hand heals quickly. Poor thing :(

    As scary as these near misses can be, we learn something everytime. Like how quick and strong our little babies really are! Which causes us to want to nail everything down.