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As if We Didn’t Have Enough Drama in Our Lives…

My daughter took a bad fall tonight – running up the stairs.  She tripped on her new Princess nightgown (the one she got for Christmas and never wants to take off – even during the day!) and fell down with her chin going BOOM on the hardwood floor landing.  (And she was running upstairs to get MY cough drops so I could manage to finish the story I was reading them!  Ooh, the guilt!)  So…loud thud, even louder screaming and blood all over.  Got the visual?

Luckily, she banged her chin on the underside, so her face looks okay, but there is a gash.  All I could think of was my childhood next door neighbor hitting her chin on the side of the community swimming pool and needing stitches, or my own ear mishap at a friend's pool party in high school (thanks to the boy that threw the oar at me) that resulted in 7 stitches (and we probably wouldn’t have thought to go to the ER but my mom’s friend – ironically the mother of that same next door neighbor – insisted that we get it checked out).  That seemed to be the million dollar question tonight:  how do you know if you need stitches or not??

As my husband put pressure on it to stop the bleeding, I decided to call our pediatrician.  The answering service would page the doctor on call and they should be able to walk us through this, right??  Not even close.  I called our pediatrician’s office only to find out that they DO NOT have a doctor on call.  All you can do is call a 1-900 number for a CHARGE and talk to a nurse.  Is this how it is where you live?  It sure wasn’t like this where we used to live!  Maybe this is just how it is now in general.  After all, our kids are healthy (knock on wood) and out of the baby/toddler phase, so other than our yearly check-ups, we don’t have much dealings with our kids’ doctor or her office.  Maybe this is just how health care is these days.  Hmmm.

 My husband wasn’t quite so understanding.  Then again, you don’t tell a man soaking up blood and trying to keep his little girl from sobbing hysterically again that there are no doctors on call anymore.  As far as he was concerned, we were finding a new pediatrician tomorrow!  So we called the 1-900 number and agreed to the $2.95 charge for the phone call. (Believe me, it’s really not about the money – it is more a principle type of thing that you should be able to call your doctor and have someone paged who will get back to you – you know, apparently the old fashion way – without getting nickel and dimed about it).  I left our information on an automated system that told us that our message would be answered based on priority of illness and to expect a call back at some point.  Gee – it just gets better and better.  Then I remembered the ace up my sleeve — my cousin (the pediatric surgeon)! 

So I played the card and called her – even though I never call her (we email each other, but with our busy lives even that is only occasional).  I think she was instantly concerned to hear from me at night (it was a little after 8pm – thankfully not TOO late) and was no doubt worried something was REALLY wrong.  I get that way too when the phone rings at night, especially late at night and really early in the morning.  Seems like that is the time when bad news (the really awful kind) gets spread, especially within families.

Anyway, she was kind enough to walk us through it very thoroughly – you know, ask questions, gather information (albeit over the phone) like a true professional and help us determine whether we needed to load up the car and head out for the hospital.  For us, going to the ER is a big deal.  It not only means getting there, but sitting and waiting (usually for hours on end) once you are there!  We want to avoid the ER at all costs if possible.  At the same time, we don’t want to not tend to something that might need more care.  

Thankfully, in this case, the bleeding had stopped and the gash where the skin isn't touching is only about 1/4 inch (it would probably be just a stitch or two – if that).  Anyway, we had ice on it a long time (it also looks like she's got a lump there) and my cousin recommended we clean it out, put a band-aid on it, and call our doctor in the morning just to touch base.

Interestingly, the nurse on that hotline finally called back and her advice was to go to the ER.  She said with anything on the face that is what they recommend.  I tried to explain that it wasn't ON the face, it was under the chin (so thankfully you wouldn't see a scar) but she said just to go.  Hmmm.  I understand it from their end: better safe than sorry – especially when you are dishing out medical advice over the phone – but still.  She seemed more interested in getting answers for the form she had in front of her than to actually listening to what I had to say. 

We gave our little patient a lollipop for being so brave (once she stopped her initial screaming, which lasted a bit, she really tried hard to keep it together – at one point when my husband asked her if she still wanted the ice on it, she gave a long slow sigh, paused, and said, "Whatever you think is best, Daddy.").  Her brother got a lollipop too for trying to be helpful (although I think I might have to work with him on his bedside manner; just a tip, but saying, “Oh my gosh!  Look at all that blood!  Uck!” doesn’t really work when you are trying to calm someone down) and then we finished our long forgotten bedtime story.  Hopefully she will be none the worse for wear tomorrow. 

What a night.  We’re so grateful I have a wonderful (accessible) pediatric expert in the family!  But what about all those families that don’t??  I know where they’d be right now. They’d be sitting in chairs at the Emergency Room, still waiting to be seen!  This Zen Mama Wannabe can't help but feel something seems really wrong with our health care system, don’t you think?

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2 Responses to “As if We Didn’t Have Enough Drama in Our Lives…”

  1. Jackie Says:
    January 22nd, 2009 at 9:40 am

    That’s awful. I hope she feels better.

    On the flip side, my 8 month old ran a fever for 3 days. We weren’t sure if it was a virus, teething, or an ear infection but since it was 12 degrees outside I didn’t want to take him to the doctor if it was just his teeth. On Friday, before going away for the weekend, our pediatrician gave me her pager number and offered to make a house call on Sunday when she got back if he was still sick. I love her.

  2. Nader Says:
    December 24th, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    example, a baby born today is around the 7 binoillth on earth. My dad, who was a pediatrician, was born on Halloween 90 years ago. I put in his birthdate: 10-31-1921 and it said, at the time, he was #1,886,719,269. I then plugged

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