I have to admit; it’s hard to stay positive when you’re dragging your toddler around on a wild goose chase to find a doctor who’s not too busy to see him, only to end up spending over four hours in the E.R. But I think I handled it about as gracefully as possible.
On Thursday afternoon, right after lunch, I changed Sam’s diaper. His feet were purple. WHAT?! His hands were a slightly lighter shade of purple, like a cross between mauve and orchid. I tried for a couple minutes to massage some color into them, but it didn’t work. So, just like when he bit his tongue a few weeks ago (there’s still a dent there, btw), I called my mommy.
“Pray for Sam, his hands and feet are purple,” I said. Then I called 911.
My dad arrived before the ambulance, which was good, because they were having trouble finding our place. Somewhere between when I saw my dad approaching our driveway and when the EMT came to the door, Sam’s feet went back to normal. The EMTs looked at me like I was crazy, checked his oxygen levels, listened to his lungs, and told me he looked fine but that I should have our doctor take a look at him, because he felt a little feverish. So I signed their papers, saying I had denied transportation and all that jazz, and I called the doctor.
“I’m sorry, but we don’t have any openings today. Why don’t you go to ReadyCare?”
I had never heard of this “ready care” place, so I asked if she meant the E.R. Apparently, I’m a complete idiot, because ReadyCare is NOT the Emergency Room; it’s a walk-in doctor’s office. Like a clinic, I thought.
So we packed up the 4 kids I had at home, piled into my dad’s minivan without a single car seat (they were all 3 towns away with my man), and drove 30 minutes to get to this place. We then proceeded to wait for aver an hour.
Finally, it was Sam’s turn! We entered the intake room. The first question the nurse asked me was not, “What are his symptoms?” It was, “what insurance do you have?” When I told her, she wanted to see the card.
“I don’t have it on me.” We were in such a hurry to get out of the house, that I couldn’t get my mind around where I had left Sam’s card last. But it was an EMERGENCY! Surely they’d care for a 1 year old with asthma, whose extremities had just turned purple, right?
They wanted me to pay $100 deposit before they would do so much as take his temperature. Now, don’tcha think if I had thought to grab my wallet, I might have grabbed the insurance card, too? And even if I had had my wallet, I don’t have $100 just lying around! We’re on food stamps, people! We’ve got 5 kids, spent 6 months of last year without an income, and have boucou loans and credit cards to pay off! How the heck am I supposed to come up with $100 while sitting in what I thought was a medical facility?
Needless to say, we left there untreated. By this time, Sam’s temperature felt okay, all of his body parts looked normal, and my dad had to get home to pick up my little brothers from elementary school, so I went home and prayed that everything would be okay at least until my man got home. And it was. Until the next afternoon.
Sam was starting to act sick again as soon as he woke up on Friday. His temperature was rising again, and he wanted to be held c-o-n-s-t-a-n-t-l-y, so I gave him some Tylenol and submitted myself to the idea that I wasn’t going to get anything done that day. No worries.
We went about the day as usual: the man went to work, the oldest went to school, and I used every 10 seconds that I wasn’t holding a crying baby to refill a juice cup or open the bathroom door for my two-year-old. We ate a tummy-friendly lunch (I didn’t mention it, but Sam has had diarrhea for a few weeks now) and he took a nap, while I savored an empty lap. And then, as usual, quiet time ended when Sam woke up from his nap crying gently for attention.
And then it started again. The fear. This time, nothing was purple, but his whole body was a darker pink than usual. His skin was ON FIRE. His under-arm temperature read 103.4, but aren’t you supposed to add a degree to that? Oh God, please let Sam be okay!
I stripped him down to nothing, ran a luke-warm bath, squirted some Tylenol in his sippy cup and tried with all my might to get his temperature down calmly. Somewhere in that mess, I called the doctor, who again said they didn’t have time for us, and my mommy, who suggested I get my man to come home early. He agreed, and I also got his parents to agree to watch the other four so that we could focus on Sam.
We dropped all the kids off at their grandparents’ house as soon as the one in school came home. Now, I had found the insurance card within a few hours of the ReadyCare fiasco the previous day, and the man hates going to hospitals, so we (meaning he) opted to go back to ReadyCare, in hopes that the wait wouldn’t be as long.
I hate that place. On Thursday, their hours were over at 5:00pm. We arrived at 4:38pm. But it was Friday. They had been closed for 8 minutes. Not closed, so much – because everything was still standing wide-open, looking inviting as ever – but no longer taking patients. Excuse me a minute while I scream.
So we finally went to the emergency room. The wait wasn’t any longer than you’d expect, and everyone was surprisingly nice. During our four hour stay, they took Sam’s temperature rectally, chiding me on the inaccuracy of an under-arm device (I know, but ew) and took three x-rays of his abdomen and chest. Hearing about how far off our thermometer scared the man, because we both knew that Sam’s temperature now felt at least four degrees cooler than earlier in the day. The x-rays confused the E.R. doctor, so she sent them out to a radiologist while we waited nervously to find out what was going on. It turns out that his stomach is distended (swollen) due to large amounts of gas, which is sporadically located throughout his digestive system, rather in an arc as it would be in a healthy person. This explains the fussiness and suddenly fat belly. The x-rays also showed that he has asthma (Durr… I knew that!). But we still have no idea what’s going on with the whole turning-purple thing. Bad circulation, maybe? Who knows. We were told to give him simethicone and Tylenol, and they gave him a breathing treatment similar to what he receives at home.
Today, Sam seems fine. His fever has broken. He hasn’t pooped yet. He hasn’t needed held more than usual. His nose is runny and gross now, but we’ve all got a cold, and I can deal with that.
For all the wondrousness of Sam’s laid-back personality, it looks like this kids isn’t the easy one, after all…