“Ma’am, please fill this out and take a seat over there.” I was handed a clipboard with paperwork to be completed. Could she not see I was completely exhausted? Could she not tell the kind of hellish day its already been? I just wanted to be seen by a doctor immediately. My spirit sank as I realized I would have to dig in.
I took a seat in the hospital lobby in the midst of the others patiently waiting. I could tell I wasn’t going to get special treatment. Webster defines emergency as, “an unexpected and usually dangerous situation that calls for immediate action.” Clearly, my desperate state of affairs was only enough for chagrin. Despite the coughing and crying babies, promptly my children collapsed all around me. Weariness indeed was settling in. I worked frantically to answer the questionnaire. I wanted nothing more than to be tucked into bed!
Any of the following symptoms in the past 12 months? No. Any family history of cancer? Heart disease? High blood pressure? Difficulty breathing? Headaches? No. The paperwork seemed quite monotonous. Five pages and counting. When would it all be done?
After an hour or so of waiting, we were finally seen. First by a medical student who took our physical history.
[student] Can you explain the purpose of your visit here today?
[me] Um. Since it’s may not be obvious, my son is bleeding profusely from his chin.
[student] How long has this been a problem?
[me] He hit his head tonight.
[student] What was he doing at the time of the accident?
[me] He was taking a bath.
[student] Was he under adult supervision?
[me] I was in the other room…but I swear, I had my eyes on him.
In retrospect, I wish I had not been completely transparent. Would it be possible I would be blamed for not taking good care of him? I went on to explain in elaboration about my day. How I had packed up my bags to avoid the predicted hurricane. Traveled all day to my final destination. Sweltered in heat without air conditioning. Suffered to find even a bite to eat. I was just taking a second…a split second…to make a phone call.
[student] That’s all for now, ma’am. Let me go get the doctor.
Elbows resting on my knees, my head quickly collapsed into my hands as she walked out the door. I could do nothing more than to hope she believed me. Within minutes, the doctor returned and for whatever reason, determined to take pity on me. Thankfully, attention was now turned to the care of my son.
With careful detail, his wound was cleaned. Stitches were inevitable. Somehow I found humor when it was all said and done. It appeared like his chin was indeed smiling.