Our Annual ER Visit

About every summer we make a trip to the ER.  I thought that we were going to make it without a trip this year; after all, school begins in 10 days.  I got my hopes up too quickly.  Last night we ventured that way again.

I really think that the Lord sends us teaching moments.  Earlier yesterday Isaiah was a pain at the shoe store.  He won the award of worst behaved Friesen child in public ever.  Hands down.  It was my fault, really: I didn’t make sure I had the stroller.  However, the shoe store is 30 minutes away, and I wasn’t going back.  Isaiah does great when he is contained by a five-point harness. I remember 45 minutes later holding him down until his tantrum was over–so hot from his writhing that sweat was dripping down both of our faces– and saying something like, “I should have stopped at 3.”  I would soon be sent a lesson in child appreciation as soon as I got home.

We weren’t home for more than five, maybe ten, minutes.  The little boy next door came over to play.  Isaiah let him in and then left.  Once I realized he was gone, I went out to check on him.

As I walked out the front door, he came running up to be, bent over and started vomiting.  To be honest, I didn’t think much of it at first.  He’s had a runny nose for three years.  Sometimes he will randomly puke to clear his little snot out.  This was different, though.  He seemed more in distress.  Then, the second time he threw up, his vomit was streaked with blood.  Our next door neighbors came up behind him.  They were smoking in their garage and heard what sounded like choking.

Isaiah was still having issues and heaving, and we took him to where they first heard him choking.  He was standing by the huge juniper tree that sits next to our house.  We kept asking him what he ate.  There wasn’t much there.  He kept trying to get something out of his mouth.  He never told us what was going on.  I dragged his little self back to the spot where I originally found him.  I ran my hand through the vomit and saw a couple of really small pieces of juniper mixed in with the streaks of blood.  That was when he started point in his wide open mouth and saying, “Owie!  Owie!”

I grabbed him, threw him in the car, and told my neighbor that I was headed to urgent care.  She watched over the other three kids as I left.  I was thinking through the situation as I was leaving the neighborhood.  I looked at him and saw that he wouldn’t (or couldn’t) close his mouth.  That’s when I decided to go to the hospital, calling people on the way.  (It’s about the same distance, but much more expensive).

Isaiah was holding his mouth open and drooling, when he started falling asleep.  I wasn’t sure if he wasn’t breathing well because of an allergic reaction to something or if he was exhausted from the shoe store adventure.  At every light I would pull his foot to make sure he was breathing.  He seemed to be sleeping–still with his mouth open.  After a short trip, we arrived at the hospital.

In the movies, the ER is a place where people meet you at the door, assess your situation, and then rush you to a trauma room.  That is why it is called an EMERGENCY room, right? That must only really happen in the big cities.  I live in the ultra suburbs.  We don’t get GSWs (gun shot wounds) here.  So, when you walk into the ER all you experience is the sound of musak and light typing.  I rushed up to the counter with a sleeping Isaiah.  The attendant didn’t even look up from the computer and handed me a form.  “Put it in the basket,” she said.

I quickly filled out the form and said, “I think he needs to see someone quickly.”  She looked up at him, saw that he was young, and then leaned over to point around the corner. “Oh, put it in that basket over there.”  Unaffected, she went back to typing.

Around the corner, one nurse was teaching another.  He saw me and Isaiah.  He took our form and calmly told the new nurse, “See this color?  This is the color that they use when a child comes in.  Just take a look at it and see if we need to take them here or send them to the child ER.”  He glances at the form, musak still playing in the background, and then continues, “With a case like this, we send them back to the child area.”  Then, explaining more to the new person than me, he points me back to the child ER center.

No one was at the desk.  I looked around.  No one was in sight.  My aunt called me back.  I had called her on the way and told her that I couldn’t bring the girls over for a sleepover–I was going to the ER.  She was calling to see what happened.  The ring of the phone alerted someone.  Two ladies came around the corner.  They read the form and went to grab the head nurse.

Isaiah was sleeping and drooling down my shirt.  The nurse kept trying to lean him back while he was in my lap to see if she could figure out what was going on.  Mark came rushing in–he left a job and came straight to the ER.  Isaiah finally woke up when she shone a flashlight towards his throat.  He wouldn’t cooperate.  He was mad about the light.  When he wasn’t pushing it away, he would point to his mouth.  The nurse put us in a room and went to get the pediatrician on duty.

The nurse and the pediatrician discussed what they were going to do as Isaiah sat watching Monsters, Inc, mesmerized, drooling down his shirt.  Mark, the nurse, and the pediatrician attempted to hold Isaiah long enough to see what was bothering him.  She said that she could see something in there.  I remembered that I saw miniscule pieces of tree in his vomit.  My aunt showed up about then and we perused images on Google to figure out what kind of tree that he might have eaten.  Finally, I texted my neighbor and asked her to take a photo of the tree.  The pediatrician looked at it, then went to go talk to the main ER doctor.

We transferred to the main ER, and that is when things got really exciting.  Isaiah was irritated that Monsters, Inc. was no longer available.  Then, the doctor tried to shine a light down his throat.  He wasn’t happy about that, either. Two doctors and a pediatrician were quietly discussing what to do.  They decided to bring in a video camera.  This was about when I said, “I apologize in advance for anything he might do to you.”  Enter four nurses.

Three doctors and four nurses then took positions to hold him down and insert a camera down his throat.  I think they managed 2 seconds–just long enough to see that there was a branch stuck in the back of his throat.  Isaiah was fighting well.  They would have him braced and an arm would escape and hit someone.  He would break a foot free and kick someone.  He even grabbed someone with his toes. Mark joined the mayhem, trying to help hold him.

The main doctor decided that they would hold him down and pull out the branch really quickly.  Yeah right.  They could not hold him down long enough to grab the branch.  He was thrashing and screaming, “LET ME GO! LET ME GO!”  One male nurse even was laying across his body, trying to pin him down.  They STILL couldn’t hold him down.  That nurse (obviously the one that always holds people down) said, “I think your son is one of the strongest 3 year olds I’ve ever restrained.”  I laughed, thinking about our adventure in the shoe store earlier.

The doctors decided that they would have to sedate him.  However, in order to restrain him, they would have to put an IV in his arm.  Enter the restraint team again.  This time they had a nurse on his right side trying to insert an IV.  That wasn’t going well, so a nurse tried on his left side.  Meanwhile, the expert restraining nurse was somewhere in the middle.  Mark was on a leg, and another nurse was on another leg.  Isaiah was still screaming, “LET ME GO!”  Whenever a nurse would poke him with a needle, he would indignantly scream, “OUCH!  LET ME GO!”

I tried to calm him down, but he was livid.  I tried to kiss his head and he screamed, “NO WANT NO KISSES!”  Finally, the nurse on the right side got the IV in and started putting a clear liquid in the IV.  As soon as the liquid entered his bloodstream, he let out the highest pitched, most blood curdling scream.  I swear it echoed through the halls.  Or maybe that was our ears.  All of us were stunned for a half second.  I swear someone said, “Wow.”

Once the IV was in, they moved us to a much larger room that 8 people could fit in better.  As Mark carried him through the hall way, every other patient and their families stared at us.  I think they heard that high pitched scream.

In the new room they struggled to put a board on his arm to protect the IV and then they nebulized him to kill the pain in his throat.  His lack of cooperation was almost humorous at this point.  It took about 10 minutes just to get a minute of steam in his throat.

To make a long story short, once they got him sedated (using a double dose to counteract his adrenaline) it took approximately 5 seconds to remove a small piece of a juniper branch from his throat.  The doctor said that she thinks he stuck it up his nose.  It was partially up his nose and the bottom was pointing towards his mouth.  He must have stuck the branch up his nose and it broke off.  Why he would stick a branch up his nose is beyond me.

I am really not sure who was more exhausted at the end of the night: him or us. I learned three things last night: 1. Even if your kids are a pain and unexpected, they still mean the world to you.  2. I might as well get used to my yearly trip to the ER.  3.  Don’t mess with an angry 3 year old.

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