Thursday, September 25, 2008

Our trip to the ER

Well, we got the pleasure of visiting our local emergency room today. Around 2:15 I got a phone call from Jake's school, informing me that he had injured his ankle in gym class playing soccer. The nurse went on to tell me that he put ice on his ankle twice already, but had come back complaining that it still hurts. She asked him to describe the pain on a number scale. 1 being he doesn't hurt, to 10 being the worst pain he's ever felt. He rated his pain at a 7.

I wasn't sure at first if I should pick him up from school. It was so close to the end of the day, and I didn't know to what extent his injury really was. I told the nurse that I'd call Michael, and call her back. My thinking is that Michael is more involved in sports than I am - I'm sure he'd know more about sports injury than I do.

I called Michael, and got his voice mail. So I called again, and got his voicemail once more. I called a third time - really certain that I needed his opinion, and he answered the phone informing me that he was in the middle of a meeting. I apologized, and brought him up to speed on the phone call I got from the school nurse. He told me that it'd be best to pick him up and have him checked out. I agreed - if only for my peace of mind - and after calling the nurse back, left work to pick him up. (I'm so thankful for my bosses who are VERY understanding of how a family works - and consistently make sure that family comes before work).

I got to the school around 2:40 or so, chatted with the nurse, and looked at Jake's ankle. It was pretty swollen, and he had a hard time putting any weight on it. We gathered up all of his items, and got in the car. Michael had finished his meeting at this point, and called me. Michael and I both decided that the best thing to do would be to take him into the ER. If we went to our family doctor, he'd send us down to the hospital to get x-rays anyway, so we might as well just go that direction. I stopped at home, long enough to look for some paperwork that I'd need for the hospital, grab Jake's PSP (to keep him busy in the waiting room) and a magazine for myself. After being home for about 10 minutes, I looked at Jake's ankle again, and it had gotten bigger. We decided we shouldn't delay any longer, and get down to the hospital.

We arrived at the hospital shortly after. Once finding a parking spot the dilemma was how to get Jake across the parking lot and into the ER. There weren't any wheelchairs close by, and I really didn't feel comfortable letting him sit in the car by himself while I fetched one. After some awkward tries, Jake and I decided it'd be best for me to piggy-back him into the ER. I turned around, leaned back, and he jumped from his good foot onto my back. We got quite a few chuckles as I lugged my 100lb 10 year old across a busy parking lot.

Once we were inside, one of the attendants got Jake a wheelchair, and signed us in. It's been a while since we've been in the ER (thank God!), and I was quite impressed with how they've streamlined the process. The "host" at the door took some vital information: name, age, injury, and gave us a buzzer like you'd get at a restaurant. He said when the buzzer went off, we'd go to a room, and they'd take us from there.

5 minutes after sitting down in the waiting room, our buzzer went off. I wheeled Jake to the designated room, and in there 2 nurses performed triage duties. We sat in there for a total of 5 minutes before heading back to the waiting room. I got Jake settled, and was about to sit down myself, and another nurse came and got us. She pushed Jake and led the way to the exam room on the 5th floor.

We were in the exam room for not more than a minute, and the doctor came in and asked Jake about what happened. He quickly looked over Jake's ankle, and told me that he wants x-rays done. He let us know that someone would be up to take us down to radiology for the x-rays. Thinking that it'd be a while, I got Jake's PSP out for him to play while we waited. He barely got the system turned on and a game loaded when a "transport" came to pick us up and go to get x-rays. Once again, we were in the elevator, this time going to the 3rd floor for x-rays.

The x-ray tech was ready for him right away. I waited in the hallway while his x-rays were being taken. I was a bit worried, I've heard horror stories of the positions that people with broken bones have to be in to get x-rays done, and was afraid that it'd hurt Jake. A few minutes later the door opened, and Jake came out fine. He said that the x-ray tech moved the table he was on instead of moving him. I was quite thankful for that!

Once again, we were told a "transport" would come and take us back to the exam room. While we waited, Jake and I chatted a bit. I could tell he was really worried, and his emotions were starting to come to the surface a bit more. He shared with me that he was a bit scared of what the outcome would be. He said, "I have to admit, I've sometimes wondered about if I broke a bone, what kind of attention I'd get.....I don't think I'm ready to find out!"

I assured him that even if he did break his ankle, things would be okay, and we'd get him taken care of. Soon after, our "transport" came and took us back up to the room. This was the time that we waited the most. Jake didn't feel like playing his PSP, so we chatted quite a bit. He was in good spirits, and really impressed me with his maturity and presence of mind. He's really grown a lot in the last few months, and today's reactions to his situation was evidence of such.

The doctor came in a bit later, and let us know that the x-rays didn't show any fractures, but it was a severe sprain. He informed us that it'd be a week's time in healing, and that Jake would have to wear a splint for that week, and use crutches for the first few days. One of the nurses came in shortly after and fitted him with a splint, adjusted his crutches for him, and gave him a crash course on walking with crutches.

All in all, it was, as much as could be hoped for, a pleasant experience at the hospital. It was a pretty quick process, and the staff was very nice. I was most impressed with the fact that all the staff addressed Jake directly, and didn't talk "about" him to me, but included him in the conversations and questions. I was also extremely impressed with Jake's presence and confidence in communicating with all these adults.

He's a bit sore yet tonight, and I'm sure will be for another day or so. School tomorrow will be interesting with the crutches. I think at this time, Jake is kind of happy he's got crutches - it's something new, and he'll get some sympathy and special treatment at school. I'm sure after the first day of not being able to do what he wants, he'll lean more towards walking without the crutches, and getting things back to normal. I'm thankful that his ankle wasn't broken, and that his recovery is only a week.

Jake is not a big fan of soccer, and doesn't like the fact that he has to play it in gym class. I had to pick on him a bit, and told him "You'll do ANYTHING to get out of soccer, won't you!?"