Stories in the Emergency room

Last night I took my son to the emergency room. Very anti-climatic, thank goodness. The phone call, ” Mom, I was wondering, I think I need stitches in my leg” He has been renovating a house. Well, I said, I think you should go to the hospital. He said, “I would, but I need to hold the cut closed.” “Okay, I’ll be right over!”

Thankfully I wasn’t met with blood gushing all over and he could still walk. I live in a small town so the hospital wasn’t far. I drop him off at the door, and he goes in while I park the car. He’s very calm, as he holds his cut clamped together with his hand and talks to the receptionist. We get his paperwork, slide it in the appropriate spot on the triage door and take a seat with all the others waiting for their own emergencies.

You know a visit to emergency always starts off with quite a jolt from routine, “Oh my God, what happened? We need to deal with this NOW!!!, hence emergency.” Then of course you get there, and in a prim and proper way, after all we are Canadians, we are prioritized as to need, who might actually have a more pressing emergency than yourself or loved one. Makes total sense, and I understand that a 3″ gash probably 3/8ths of an inch deep is not, thankfully, life threatening, so you wait. Half an hour later, we had a person sit beside us (other chairs were already full), an hour past and my son was seen by a triage person, and sent back out to wait. They have installed a TV now that gives you updates, how many patients are waiting, average wait time, longest wait time and this is updated regularly. I suppose it is there to give you some form of understanding, acceptance of why you are still waiting, and that yes if your situation is a higher priority you will be seen sooner. So, you sit and watch quietly while time ticks by, as these possible wait times change, and number of patients also changes. And since you have nothing better to do you measure your standing against this as to how long you have been there and how much longer you may have to wait the good scenario 2 hours and the bad scenario at one point 4 1/2 hours. As my son tells me, still better than a hospital wait in the City. I jokingly tell him and the lady beside us, both waiting for stitches, that maybe if they had wanted quicker attention they should have come in with blood gushing out and screaming?

So what do you do while you are waiting? Observe the others in the waiting room. Play your own guess the priority game? Is that one really an emergency, they look fine, you call that a cough, I’ve heard worse than that. A police brought him in but then the police fellow left and he seems fine. Then being a small town people start to come in that you know, who knew an emergency room could be like a coffee shop.

On being admitted, one of the questions was have you been to emergency in the last 6 months? (Does it matter? Okay maybe some people are more accident prone, but if you need help, you need help, right?). That did make for some conversation on sitting down, memory lane, when did you go in for cutting your hand, did you get a tetanus shot then or did they just talk about it? When did you break your collarbone? Now he’s thinking will they have to cut my pants off? They cut his clothes off when he broke his collarbone, but it’s -30′ outside and he doesn’t have any extra pants here. I told him he could let go of his cut for the few minutes it would take to pull his pants down, it wouldn’t bleed for long. I had to laugh internally when he went in to triage and came out with a piece of tape holding his pants together??? But no stitches on his leg yet. Really? What was the purpose of that? I was more concerned about his wound getting stuck to his pants and then being ripped open again when they went to deal with it.

Meanwhile the lady beside us had cut her finger. I asked how she had done that, cutting frozen meat? (That’s how my daughter had ended up in emergency a few years ago.) No, putting something in the garbage and slicing it on an open tin can in there already. Down to the bone she said, ouch! (Now that I think of it, that ‘can’ should have been in the recycling, next time, Isn’t it funny how our brains bounce around, or mine anyways)

My son and I talked as we waited about how I should have brought my own needle and thread and then we wouldn’t be waiting so long, or just a clamp, though he admitted that would really hurt. Seriously I don’t know if I could stitch up another human being …unless I thought there was no other option, which of course I would then, but here’s hoping I never have to. We talked about staples, just imagining that made me wince. Superglue, I have had that before, it stings, my other son had that when he ran a hand saw over his hand while building a fort, the glue job didn’t hold and I wanted to take him back to get it re-done, he, a teenager at the time , said “No” he wanted a battle scar, a story to tell, silly kid. While waiting, we learned that they don’t do stitches if the wound is more that 24 hours old. Certainly we wouldn’t be waiting 24 hours, if so I would find someway to put “Humpty” back together again, no, 4 1/2 hours at most the TV screen said.

At one point the lady beside me told me that she once had to come in because she had put an axe through her leg, not good. Okay, my turn, I had tripped on some scrub bush and had another piece go up my leg when I was playing tag, stitches out on my birthday, (I was 5), She had another, she was bit by a beaver!!! A beaver, wow, how uncommon is that! How on earth did that happen, I asked did she poke it with a stick? She said she was with her dog, when they ran into the beaver, and she did have a stick and was trying to keep the beaver from her dog when it, she thought rubbed up to her, but she had three bites, and had to get rabie shots in the wounds and couldn’t get it stitched up because of the possible rabies. Now that was a story. Well, I didn’t have one to trump her, but I told her I had been followed to school by a bear one day, haha. (true)

It was more than 2 hours before he went in for his stitches, and he did come out with his pants intack (besides the slice he had made cutting his leg) for his hour plus ride back to the city.

I bet those emergency room staff have all kinds of whopper stories to tell, silly ones, what were they thinking ones, and absolutely devastating one’s, heart wrenching ones. So glad ours was just a different way to spend a few hours on a Sunday night, and that someone else was there to stitch up my son. And we have no intention of coming back anytime soon, thanks for being there though. Love, living in Canada.

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