Everyone in the house is sick right now with this sore throat stuffed up miserableness thing, that I am really hoping to shake off in time for Blissdom Canada. Thanks to a couple of last minute sponsorship angels I didn’t have to sell my Blissdom ticket. (Thank you greenmuch.ca and sammygs.com!). Which means I had to, you know, actually book train tickets and stuff. Which leads me to asking my sick husband to watch one sick kid, so I could make some phone calls and get my train ticket sorted out.
In the meantime kiddo #2 woke up from her nap soaked and insisting that the only appropriate costume change was to put on a blue silk party dress. I am fiddling around trying to convince VIA Rail to let me still get preference reward points without travelling under my maiden name (yeah, it’s been awhile since I’ve been on a train), and Rainbow is in and out of the room discussing her outfit with me. Just as I finally click “submit” to purchase my non-refundable train tickets, I hear a loud scream from the basement, followed by my husband yelling “De, hurry up she’s bleeding!”. I run into the kitchen to meet my husband coming up the stairs cradling my littlest one. He points out that her lip is split wide open. Like a one inch gash. And there is blood just pouring out. She is covered with it. “What do we do?” he asks me. “Hospital. Now.” I say and we bundle the babe and her blood-soaked PJs into the carseat and take off.
Thank goodness Rainbow insisted on putting on dress shoes to match her party dress, I just toss the crown off her head and herd her into the car. Other then double-checking to make sure I have Rocket’s healthcard, I grab nothing. The hospital is like a five minute drive away from out house. However, the traffic is horrible at 5:50 at night, and we end up stuck behind some git going thirty. My husband is freaking out. The baby is screaming at the top of her lungs. And then she just suddenly stops screaming. Which scares the beejeezus out of us. We still have her in a rear-facing seat, so I can’t see what she is doing. “Is your sister awake back there? Are her eyes open??” we ask Rainbow, in a total panic. I crane myself around in the seat and manage to see that Rocket is just staring at her blood covered hands in shock. She looks dazed. My husband and I are freaking out, thinking she is going to pass-out from blood loss or something. (Yes, we were over-reacting.)
Now Rainbow has been asking questions this whole time. At one point before we left I was standing in the kitchen telling Rainbow that her sister was hurt and that we were taking her to the hospital so a doctor could fix her up. Yes, that’s her blood. Yes, she hurt her lip. She’ll be ok, but we have to leave Right Now. Now we are driving to the hospital, the baby has stopped crying, which I find even more worrisome than her constant scream, and then suddenly Rainbow yells out, “Oh, no, oh, no, there is something very wrong back here!!!”, “What, what??” my husband and I ask her, in a total panic. “My sister! Her lip is BROKEN!! That’s why all her blood is falling out!” Yeah, ok, we already knew that. Thanks. “Her blood is falling out, and falling out. She will run out of blood and she will die!!” gasps my dramatic 4 year old, though really it’s not far from what my husband and I are currently fearing. I assure Rainbow that her sister will not die, and that the doctor will fix her up. “We need to get her to the hospital RIGHT NOW” she tells us. Yes, well, welcome to traffic, we’re doing the best we can. “Her lip is broken. She has no lip. She won’t be able to eat or drink. She will starve!!” Again and again I assure Rainbow that her sister will be fine. “Dad you need to drive faster! Rocket is in pain. She hurts!” My poor husband was already feeling so guilty over the fact that the babe managed to hurt herself on his watch. I think he would have driven through the cars ahead of us if he could.
We park illegally and rush the baby into the hospital. They wave us right into the triage station off to the side. Rocket is calm, and quiet. I hold her and the nurse takes all her vitals and takes a look at her lip. Her bottom lip is split right down the centre, into her chin. How did it happen? I asked my husband that on the ride to the hospital. Turns out Rocket was sitting on his lap watching TV, when she quite suddenly decided to get up and dove face first off of his lap, hitting her mouth off the crossbar of a wooden TV tray. Not sharp at all. I couldn’t figure out how the heck she managed to cut herself so badly. The triage nurse assures me that her teeth did the damage. She tells me that they will mostly likely have to sedate her, and that they will stitch her right up and she will be good as new. She asks the clerk who the pediatrician on call is, and shoos us off to registration. The security guard tells us that we are next up to register, and directs us to a seat. We wait like 10 minutes. The window becomes clear and I go to register, but the clerk tells me I am not next in line and she is taking this person first, thank-you-very-much.
I finally get up to see the clerk. Rocket is on my lap and she is smiling. She tells the clerk she has an ouchie, and then says “Look, look!” over and over, marvelling over all the items at the reception desk. She is babbling and happy the entire time I am trying to register. The clerk gives me the stink eye and informs me that there is a bathroom at the end of the hall, “Go clean the blood off of her, we don’t want her in here looking like that.” Um… wait, you don’t want a kid is the emergency room covered in blood? Um. ok. I try and clean Rocket up a bit, but she does not want to be touched. She doesn’t even want me to clean her hands. It takes forever to get her tidied up, but that’s ok, because it turns out we have plenty of time.
It took us over five and a half hours to see a doctor and get the baby stitched up. Well, that’s a slight exaggeration, it was more like four and a half hours of waiting and half an hour of them actually fixing her up, followed by another half hour wait before we were released. Here we had rushed to the hospital, thinking every moment counted. My husband and I had assumed that the quicker they stitched her up, the less chance there would be of a horrible big scar. Plus, she was bleeding a fair bit, which we figured in a 20lb 19 month old is never a good thing.
I know the emergency room tends to take forever. I normally don’t even mind the wait. However, I went in thinking, we have a small child that is hurt and bleeding, they are going to take us right away. Then I assumed we were waiting because we needed to see a pediatrician, but that wasn’t the case. When we finally did see a doctor, it was just a normal doctor. It was very frustrating waiting and seeing patient after patient get called in ahead of us. Not life threatening stuff either, more like I have a cough, I’ve been having bad headaches, I punched a wall and my fist is swollen, that sort of thing.
Thankfully my mom came and picked up Rainbow and took her back to her place overnight. Keeping her occupied for hour after hour would have been a pain. It was rather like being stuck in hell as it was. Rocket was quite understandably not happy. She wanted to nurse, which I didn’t think would be a good idea as I didn’t want to touch her lip in any way. Every time I tried to sit down with her on my lap she would ask to nurse, and then start to fuss. So I stood and held her, and walked, and paced, and rocked her in place. Until my arms felt that they would break, and then I would try and sit, and she would fuss, and I would end up pacing again. She didn’t want to sit on her father’s lap. Though eventually as the night wore on we did manage to switch off. She had a pretty bad screaming fit at one point, and then passed out asleep on her dad’s shoulder. I was frustrated that whenever hospital staff appeared my babe was happy and calm, and the rest of the time she was fussy and miserable, and I had to fight with her to keep her hands off her mouth.
We waited for two and a half hours in the front waiting room. Then we were moved to a smaller waiting room in ambulatory care, where we waited almost another hour and a half. Around a quarter to 10 o’clock we we were given a bed. Which for us was just silly. At this point Rocket was asleep on my husband’s shoulder, and he had to try and perch on a stool, which had no back, and hold her. It didn’t work, and she woke shortly. We could see the lady who was complaining of bad headaches sitting in the pediatric room, while we were in a stall with a bed and no chair. Rocket’s lip also looked much worse by this point, which was bothersome.
There was a computer monitor across the way with a screen saver showing African wildlife. Watching the monkeys and elephants had Rocket in pretty good spirits. I sat her on the bed and sat next to her, holding her and worrying she would manage to pitch off the side. A nurse came and put a kit at the foot of the bed. Someone else came by and set a second stool at the foot of the bed. The doctor finally came and took a look at her and said she would need stitches. By this point we had noticed quite a bit of additional blood in her mouth. I mentioned it to him and he took a look. Torn frenulum. No big deal, it will heal on its own. The doctor said they would have to put her under, which we were already expecting from what the triage nurse had said. He then walked away pretty much mid sentence. I thought he would be coming right back to us, but then heard him talking to one patient in a stall down the way, and then another.
The doctor eventually came back and said he wanted someone else to look at her lip, and sent another women, who I later discovered was a med-student, over to take a peek. Rocket was smiling and babbling happily about the animals on the screen saver. We waited. Another nurse came by and said we would be going to the resuscitation room. We waited. Someone else came by and removed the unused kit from the foot of the bed. We waited. A male nurse came and sat down, introduced himself, and explained that we would be going to the resuscitation room, that she would get a needle in her arm, that she would be sent into a sleepy state and then stitched up. He left. A few minutes later he returned, He asked me about how her PJs came off, but said to leave them on for now. They weren’t ready to move us to the room yet. We waited some more. Someone else came by to say we would be moved to the resuscitation room but that it wasn’t ready as they were cleaning it. We waited, and so on.
We were finally moved to the other room, where we waited some more. I stripped Rocket out of her bloody PJs and paced up and down holding her in my arms. The male nurse we had been dealing with assured me that putting the needle into her arm would be the worst of it for her, as she wouldn’t feel a thing when they were actually stitching her up.
Finally a team of three people assembled to put the shunt into her arm. They bundled her into a blanket. I held her head and my husband held her body while the three of them worked at getting a needle into her. As predicted Rocket did not enjoy this part at all, and it was a bit of a task keeping her still and somewhat calm. They taped her little hand down to a soft foam board and got the shunt into her arm, and then left. I was a bit surprised when the nurse suggested I pick her up and hold her. We waited some more. The male nurse came back in, hooked up her IV, and hooked her up to the machine to watch her vitals. He left and we waited some more. This part, keeping her still and calm while hooked up to all of this crap, keeping her from messing with the stint in her hand, it was horrible. Seeing her so tiny and hooked up to all this stuff, I couldn’t help thinking of every mom who has ever had to deal with a truly sick kid, which made me feel like crying.
Rocket kept saying “Done!” and asking to go “home”. She told me she had an “ouchie” lip, “ouchie” “hand”. She asked for “help” with her “hand”, and when we wouldn’t fix it for her she cried. Finally the doctor appeared, and they prepped the anaesthetics, two antibiotics that would make her drowsy. They uncapped the IV drip and nothing happened. They flushed the line and fed the first antibiotic in. It didn’t seem to be working. I held her hand as my husband stood behind me. They fed the second antibiotic into the line, and then asked us to leave the room.
As we left the room I noticed Rocket was still awake, though the nurse was flashing a light in her eyes and telling the doctor he thought she looked dozy. My husband went and fetched a second chair and we sat down and waited. And listened to our daughter cry. She was NOT asleep. She was yelling Done and Ouchie. It got quiet for a moment, and then she cried out again. Each time she would stop, I would think it was over and she must be under now. The cries ramped up from complaints, to true crying. It would get quiet for a moment, and then she would let out a blood curdling scream. Another nurse came down the hall and into the room. I stood outside the door wringing my hands and feeling like I was going to puke. I heard the nurse murmuring something about how she was snoring and most be asleep, followed by my daughter’s bestial screams. She wasn’t just crying, she was screaming with her whole body, over and over, in obvious pain. What happened to the assurances that putting the needle into her arm would be the worst of it for her??
I stood in the hallway and wondered if I should go in the room. I wanted to go in the room. I didn’t want to get in the way. They had asked us to wait in the hall. I waited. I wish I had went in. Then everything was quiet, and after a few minutes the male nurse stuck his head out the door and told us to come back in. My daughter was laying there, wrapped up on the bed, looking awake but confused, with stitches in her lip.
We had to wait half an hour to make sure she was ok after recovering from the anaesthetics. At one point the male nurse said, “She was a fighter and wouldn’t sleep, so there was “a little whimper”. Then we gave her a bit extra and stitched her up.” Yeah, sorry bud, that was not a little whimper. My daughter screamed her heart out, and not just once. Did he think we couldn’t hear it in the hallway?!?
I was surprised to find that the doctor chose to use dissolving stitches, after one of the nurses had explained dissolving stitches would be a bad idea, as it’s on the lip and will get wet, and they might dissolve early.
It was at this point that we were told that she would have a scar for the rest of her life. It was odd, because up until that point everyone we had spoken to had just said, oh we’ll make her beautiful again. We’ll fix her right up. No worries. She’ll be putting lipstick on those pretty lips. That sort of thing. And now, after stitching her up they say, well of course she’ll have a horrible scar. I wonder if they had stitched it up right away, if we hadn’t waited five hours, if it might have made a difference? I wonder what happened in that room, while I waited in the hallway and listened to her screaming. I think they tried to start stitching her up and she was still awake. I wonder if they botched it because she was flinching?
My husband is really upset at the thought of one of his beautiful girls bearing a scar. He is so upset over the fact that she got hurt by falling off of his lap. It really wasn’t his fault. There was nothing with sharp corners around. She hit her mouth on a very innocent seeming TV tray. We agree that there was nothing he could have done differently to prevent it. I wonder if we should have done something different at the hospital. Spoken up in some way. I am not so distraught over the idea of my girl having a scar as I am at the thought that other kids will probably bug her over it.
Overall, it was a really lousy way to spend a Friday night. Being sick, trying not to cough on folks, feeling lousy, plus trying to keep a hurt toddler calm, and the stress and worrying. It was a really bloody long night .We left here at 5:50 and didn’t get home until well past midnight. After leaving the hospital at 11:40 we still had to head to Shoppers and pick up the suggested pain relief and antiseptic cream. Then we hit a drive through for a very late dinner. We had to wait until 1am to be able to feed Rocket. She devoured her food. Nursed and then passed out asleep. I was really relieved to find that the stitches and the pain in her lip didn’t stop her from being able to breastfeed.
I apologize. There is probably no one still reading at this point, as it’s turned into a rather long story/rant. But I felt like I needed to share the experience with someone, as I was very frustrated with the hospital. Also all those pictures going forward from here, where my daughter has stitches, and then most likely a scar. Yeah, I figured they’d need some sort of explanation.
Have any of you ever had similar experiences with horrible hospital wait times? Also, if you known anyone that tore their lip into two, and it didn’t turn out so bad, I’d love to hear about it.