Mom blog: Because I Said So! Friday at the ER

Mom Blogger JacquelynIs there any experience more central to parenting than spending the day in ER? Notice I said “the day” and not “two hours”? When I was a child, it seemed you fell out of a tree, you went to the hospital, you came home two hours later with a cast and an ice cream. Now, emerg is filled with people without family doctors, or who had to work all day and can only afford to be sick at night, or who suspect their cough could be the next SARS.
What brought my daughter and me to to emerg? Stomach pains and nausea so intense she couldn’t go to school again. And it wasn’t a pressure-filled day, it was media day, her presentation was finished, music written, visuals completed, she’d even arranged for her youngest brother to attend her school for the day as a part of her project. It was Friday to boot (and why I didn’t post on Friday, sorry!). It was an excellent day, and yet she was sick again. The last time we’d been to her doctor in this state, the doc said, “Go to emerg next time.” The last time we’d been to the hospital in the same state, that doctor said, “Come to emerg next time.”

So, that’s why we came.

You have to love triage. As my daughter hugged her middle during Hour Four, she asked for the 57th time, “When am I going to see a doctor?” I pointed out that if she could have spiked a fever, or thrown up, or been bleeding profusely, we might have made it up the chain by then. As it was, we languished for almost six hours in three different locations before she saw a doctor. When she did, the doctor was wonderful, patient, questioning, thoughtful, gentle. She listened to Tessa’s words, then heart, then gurgling stomach, and asked another 20 questions. She explained everything to us, gave Tessa encouragement, gave us next steps and was efficient without rushing.

That doctor made me wish the hospital handed out customer satisfaction cards, like at Jack Astor’s. I’d have filled it in and left a healthy tip too. She was great. After she left us, mind you, it took another full hour to get the discharge papers, but heck, what’s seven hours of exclusive mummy-daughter time worth these days? Priceless, I say.


3 Responses

  1. Actually, a few weeks after the last time I went to emergency, a “customer satisfaction card” did arrive in my mail – this was for Toronto Western and they were looking for feedback on how they could improve. And I agree with you – the time issue is really the only major one.

  2. Seven hours where you actually get to talk to a teenager without them texting on their cell phone at the same time. At least where we live there are no cell phones allowed in emerg. And I agree with Kat – every emerg experience we have had was full of wonderful people, just lots of waiting.

  3. I loved this entry — especially the part about the questions about “when am I going to see the doctor?” We took our then 7 year old son to the Emerg when he had trouble walking at the request of his family physician who was unable to get us an appointment with a paediatrician.

    After 1.5 hours my son finally saw the triage nurse and was told that he was next in line. Unfortunately, we had to sit for another 2 hours while 4 separate ambulances came in with people who had to assessed first. Once we got to the room, it was another 45 minutes to see the doctor and get a diagnosis, another 30 to get blood drawn for confirmation, another 2 hours to get the results, and finally a final 30 minutes to get our referral to another doctor the next day. We had nothing to look at/read in the room and the last 2 hours my son was put into the hall on a stretcher because they wanted his room for someone else. Needless to say our son is not interested in going to see doctors any time soon!

    The staff were wonderful but the wait was not great. On top of all this, my husband had to fly out to Vancouver and had to leave during the wait and was calling periodically asking for the results. I know that it would be nice to say that this is simply an abberation on that day but I know that it is not the case — this is normal in Toronto.

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