By Christina VanGinkel
Whether your baby is an infant or a teenager, a visit to the emergency room can be a harrowing experience. Yesterday afternoon, we received a phone call that there had been an accident, at the hill, where our thirteen-year-old son snowboards. He had been going over what is referred to as a rail, and he wiped out. His right leg had hit the metal rail, and he had been stabilized by the emergency crew at the hill, but needed transporting to the emergency room. We arrived at the base of the hill about fifteen minutes after the initial phone call, to find our son in pain, but in relatively one piece. He had a large hematoma on the lower part of his right leg, but was sitting up and talking. He had been wearing a safety helmet, and though this is not a guarantee to preventing damage, if he were to strike his head, it would have been a definite plus on his side. He had told the emergency crew though that he had not struck his head, and had not lost consciousness.
The crew at the hill was phenomenal, and they loaded him into our vehicle. This is no small feat, as he is five foot nine and nearly two hundred pounds. We arrived at the emergency room, where they helped him out of our truck and into a wheelchair. He was taken directly into the emergency room because of the severity of the bruising, and I was at this point positive he had broken the leg. His father went with him into the cubicle where the doctor was available to look at the leg immediately, while I went in the other direction and took care of all the necessary paperwork that anyone visiting an emergency room in this day and age must deal with it.
By the time I arrived in his room, they were already sending him to x-ray, which they said I could walk down with him if I wanted. I did, and he chatted the whole way. The x-rays were taken, and we were ready to go back to his room, when they said they needed a few more. Again, at this point, I was again positive that the leg was broken. After a few more x-rays, we were headed back to his room. Not long after, the doctor arrived again, and I met him for the first time, having been registering my son the first time he examined the leg. He came bearing good news, that as bad as the leg looked, and it did look horrible, there were no bones broke. He had a severe hematoma, which was going to be painful for several days, but as the doctor pointed out, he was one lucky boy.
This was not our first visit to the emergency room, and sadly, it will probably not be our last. He is active in all types of sports, and somewhat of a daredevil. What is surprising is that after several trips to the emergency room, throughout the years since his birth, I am always left with a sense of dread each time we go. This is normal I have been told, but nonetheless unsettling.
I have learned a few things though through the years though, that has helped me deal with these unwanted trips. Usually, the doctors and nurses do know what they are doing, but if you have an instinct that tells you something other than what they are relating, tell them. At the worst, you will be wrong. At the worst, you will be right, but they will then be more able to deal with the issue at hand. Paperwork is a fact. Whether you visit for something relatively mediocre, like a finger needing stitches, or something serious, such as a chain saw in the leg (that was my older son), the paperwork still needs to be filled out. Staying calm in a tough situation will help in several ways, but most importantly, it will mean you can listen with open ears to everything the doctors and nurses are telling you. Panicking will also make your child panic, so as tough as it might be, stay calm. Lastly, when being discharged, if there is anything you do not understand, question it right then and there, and ask that they explain in detail until you do understand.