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Our Night in the ER

Calfgrit6 was feeling and acting pretty normal, a week after his tonsillectomy. After 10 days, it seemed all was over. Then Sunday night he came into our room around 10:30 p.m. saying he was throwing up. His mom was with him before I could shake the sleep out of my head. By the time I got up and to our bathroom, she had him over the trashcan. “He’s throwing up blood,” she said.

Oh crap. Okay, this had also happened with Calfgrit10, about 10 days after he had his tonsils removed back when he was about 4 years old. So we understood what was probably happening. His surgery wound, or both, probably popped a scab and so blood was seeping into his throat and being swallowed. After a while sitting on his stomach, it comes up.

“This is a lot of blood,” his mother said. They were both over the trashcan, so I couldn’t see the results, myself. Calfgrit6 mentioned he had thrown up in his room, so I was sent to check it out.

I walked down the hall and flicked on the lights of our little boy’s room. Sweet Mother of God! It looked like a horror movie had taken place in there. There was blood on his bed, on his nightstand, on the floor beside the bed, and there was a big pool of it right at his door, an inch from where I had stepped into his room.

I stood staring at the mess for a few moments, thinking, “I have no idea how to clean this up.”

I went back to our bathroom where Cowgrit was trying to keep our little guy calm so he wouldn’t make his pain and stomach worse. I informed her about the six gallons of blood in his room.

I was told to get dressed and to go get the doctor’s phone number. We had been given an information sheet explaining possible problems/complications from the surgery, and bleeding afterwards was an item to prompt calling the doctor’s emergency number. I pulled out that sheet, and called the doc. I expected to reach the doc’s answering service or something, but apparently it was the man’s personal phone.

“Hello?” said the sleepy voice on the phone.

“Um, hi,” I said started. “My son had a tonsillectomy about a week ago, and he’s now throwing up blood. A lot of blood.”

He asked for a little more info, like the patient’s age, and then he told me to take him to the hospital emergency room. He’d call his on-call partner and have him meet us there.

I finished getting dressed and got some clothes for Calfgrit6, while Cowgrit cleaned the little guy up a bit — washed most of the blood off him. He was calmed down, and seemed to have emptied is stomach.

As he and I were ready to run out the door, Cowgrit called her mother, who lives just a few minutes away. Calfgrit10 was still in his room, fast asleep, and we didn’t want to wake him and up and drag him to the ER with us. Calfgrit6 was calm but concerned about going to the hospital. We consoled him as best we could and then he and I left in my truck. Cowgrit would come behind us after her mother arrived to stay at our house with the sleeping older boy.

I and CG6 got to the hospital at 11:25 p.m., and check in and triage went pretty smooth and fast. 20 minutes after signing in, we were put in a curtained room in the ER. Calfgrit6 was doing fine — no vomiting or problems. His mother arrived within 5 more minutes, while the nurse was checking with us. “The doctor will be here shortly to examine him and see what’s going on,” we were told.

We sat down beside Calfgrit’s little child-sized bed, and waited. We tried to get him to go to sleep, and we tried to get comfortable in the hard chairs. There was just too much activity outside the curtain for him to close his eyes, and our chairs were too uncomfortable for us to nod off. An hour passed without anyone coming back to us. We continued to try to coax Calfgrit6 to at least just shut his eyes and rest. He hadn’t thrown up any more, and said he felt okay. 30 more minutes passed with no one checking in on us. I took a peek outside the curtain, and there was plenty of people around, and not much activity, (compared to what I expected in an ER).

At 2:45, we hit the two-hour mark of waiting in the room. I groggily stepped outside the curtains intending to flag down our nurse to ask what we were waiting on. I didn’t want to be rude or annoying — you know, “that” kind of patient’s-dad — but really, two hours? The doc on the phone had said his on-call doc would meet us at the ER, so what was the hold up? Our boy wasn’t in danger or pain, so I wasn’t wanting to demand attention, but with absolutely no attention since we first go there, I wanted to just make sure we weren’t forgotten or something.

I thought maybe they were just waiting to see if the boy vomited anymore or something. Were we going to be just sent back home? Was there something going on behind the scenes that was why we were just left with no word? While standing outside the curtain, I kept seeing our nurse zipping in and out of rooms and around corners, just outside the range of contact without shouting. But then another nurse saw me and asked me if she could help me. I told her we had been waiting in here for two hours, and I just wanted to know what’s up.

Now, it was almost 3:00 in the morning. I was tired, sleepy, groggy, with an anxious 6 year old in the hospital emergency room. I didn’t want to be an ass, but I fear I came across pretty rough and annoyed. This nurse said she’d check with our nurse and find out for me. I sat back down next to Calfgrit6’s bed.

A few minutes later, another nurse came to us to apply a pulse monitor to Calfgrit6’s finger. A pulse monitor? Really? The kid had been there for over two hours without any problems, or any other monitoring, and she was taking his pulse? I immediately figured this was just to give us some attention, and the fact that no attention was paid to the pulse display throughout the rest of our stay confirms to me that it was just for making us feel like we hadn’t been forgotten. I mean, I was just asking for information on what we were waiting around for; they didn’t need to make a false show of attention.

Half an hour later, the ER doc got to us and checked our boy out. The bleeding was stopped, his stomach was not upset, and he was not in pain. So the doc just told the nurse to let us check out. <sigh> About 3 hours in the hospital.

When we got home, it was going on 4:00 a.m. By the time we got Calfgrit6 back in his own bed, and we back in our own, it was 4:00 on the dot.

Half of our July 4th was spent cleaning up the mess of blood from the night before.


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