(Due to the length of this post, it will be a three-part series. I preface this by saying in no way shape or form is this going to be humorous. But, this really did happen.)
This week will mark the anniversary of a very scary and intense day in our family’s life. October 23, 2009 was the day I almost lost my daughter. I don’t mean “lost” as in she wandered off in a store. I mean “lost” as in we called the pastor in the event our baby had to be read last rites. The events of that day are still surreal. But, I can speak about them now in such a calm, rationale way that it is almost detached. Reiterating your story to thirty-or so doctors and nurses will do that to you, I suppose.
This time last year, nothing interesting or out of the ordinary was happening. I was working the same job that I had been for three years. My husband was too. It was a crisp but sunny autumn Friday. My mom was home watching our son and daughter as she normally did on Fridays. I only thing really on my mind then was that our son’s baptism was scheduled for that Sunday, October 25, and therefore I had to get out at some point in the next two days to buy his soon-to-be Godparents a thank you gift.
The day progressed normally. My husband called me around 4:30 p.m. to tell me he was off work and headed home. That sounded great to me because I figured we could do steaks on the grill, have some red wine and enjoy and early night. When five-o-clock hit, I figured I’d better scoot to the store to buy that gift for the Baptism. The drive home took me past the mall and several shops so a quick stop wouldn’t have been any big deal—normally. As I was pulling into the store parking lot, I got a call from my husband. It was about at about 5:15 p.m. He told me that our daughter didn’t look well and was possibly getting the flu. He told me I should come home. I told him I would but didn’t mention that it would be after I purchased that gift I was hunting.
My mom was there. My husband was there. What could I do for her that they couldn’t?
About fifteen minutes later, I got another call. I was standing in a looooong line waiting to check out. This time, he sounded more serious but yet I wasn’t particularly worried.
Our conversation went something like this:
Husband: “Something is wrong with her. She’s not answering me when I talk to her. I just gave her a bath because she threw up. Her eyes won’t focus and she’s limp.”
Me: “What do you mean her eyes won’t focus? Like, they’re glassy? Does she have a fever?”
Husband: “She just keeps staring at the ceiling now. Even Grandma is worried.”
(This last statement is what finally got me to understand that we must’ve had a serious situation on our hands because my mom does not believe in going to the doctor. You have to be on death’s door before she thinks seeking medical help is absolutely necessary. In this case, it was.)
Me: “It’ll take me another 15 minutes to drive home.”
Husband: “ Just meet me at the Urgent Care.”
Me: “You think it’s that bad?”
Husband: “Yes, I gotta go.”
The place he was talking about was a satellite branch of our city’s main Children’s Hospital which is brand new and only about a five-minute drive from our home. I was ten minutes from there.
Once I’d left the store, hopped in the car and driven to Urgent Care I was pulling in at the same time as my husband.
I turned into the first parking space I saw and threw it in park. I hurried over to my husband’s car and he was already unstrapping the car seat from her shoulders. When I saw her face I was taken aback. There was a child that look like my daughter. But she was as limp as a rag doll, head cocked to the left side, her eyes were almost fully rolled up in her head (but off to one side) and her mouth was gaped open. I thought she was brain dead.
Scooping her up in my arms, I hustled all 21 pounds of her into the facility with my husband following behind. At check-in, a woman in nurses’ scrubs looked at me and asked what was wrong with my daughter. I said (and I quote), “I don’t know but LOOK at her!!!”
That nurse turned over her shoulder and yelled, “Call 911!” Three others standing nearby came from behind the registration desk and escorted us quickly to a side room and instructed me to lay my daughter on the gurney.
Panic hit me at that point. First, because we thought we were coming to a branch of Children’s Medical where our daughter could be helped. But, when “Call 911!” was uttered, it was clear they could not. Second, because as my child lay non-responsive on the table. A nurse, EMT and some other person all started talking—to each other—to me—to her— all at the same time. Then, the EMT started running through some questions on a form attached to a clip board that were directed at me to answer. Although, I had only entered the situation seven minutes ago. So, I was as clueless as he was.
He explained to my husband that this branch is mainly for minor Urgent Care issues, like flu or stitches. They weren’t staffed to treat a case like this. An emergency transport team was on its way to take us downtown to the main children’s hospital.
“Which one of you want to ride in the ambulance?” he said.
To be continued…
- Why Emergency Rooms Are Packed, Ctd (andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com)
- Caregiver Cruise Winner Sacrifices Much to Care for Sick Grandmother (prweb.com)
- The Urgent Care Association of America Announces New Certified Urgent Care Centers (eon.businesswire.com)
- Urgent care clinics carve out a key health care niche (usatoday.com)
- Not to worry, his elbow is back to where it’s supposed to be (timesunion.com)
- Palm Beach County School Kids Scramble for Back to School Physicals & Shots at MD Now Urgent Care (pr.com)