Home > Uncategorized > We Weren’t Going to be Those Parents

We Weren’t Going to be Those Parents

Before Samuel was born, Angela and I discussed the type of parents we wanted to be.  Aside from deciding how we wanted to raise our child, we talked through how we would react to things we’d seen other parents face.  We were certain of one thing, we wouldn’t be those parents.  You know the type, the ones who rushed little Johnny to the doctor or the ER every time he had a sniffle, the parents who researched sniffles on webmd and self-diagnosed little Johnny with a rare bacterial infection (even though little Johnny hadn’t been to the one island in the world where this bacteria can be found), and of course, the reason for rushing to the doctor or the ER was that the treatment window for this rare bacterial infection was only six hours. We would not be like them.  We weren’t going to be those parents.  We would not check our child’s symptoms on webmd.  We would not go rushing off to the doctor or the ER.  We wouldn’t freak out when our child ate dirt  (actually we would).

But all that changed (except the declaration against dirt-eating, we held fast to that one).

On an August morning in 2008, Samuel, three years old at the time, complained of an upset stomach.  Part of being a kid is getting an upset stomach, we reasoned.  After all, he’d been with Grandma recently and Grandma was known to allow Samuel to induldge in whatever sweets and junk food he wanted.  And, we further reasoned, he’d been swimming in a public pool the day before as well and we’d heard from friends about other kids getting stomach bugs from public pools.  (If you’re not familiar with this, think about kiddie pools and dirty diapers.  It’s a bacterial gestation pool.)  Samuel laid on the couch not doing much.  We, the good parents, felt better Friday evening when he finally vomited.

“He’ll feel better now that he’s vomited,” we assured one another.

Instead of being better on Saturday, he appeared worse.  He refused to eat or talk and wasn’t interested in playing.  He just wanted to lay on the couch or the bed.  Every time I picked him up to move him, he complained about the pain.  He even asked me to turn off the TV, which was a clear sign he was in pain.  (This is, after all, the same kid who wondered if he would get the flu so he could stay home and watch TV all day.)  Whenever we asked him where he hurt, he pointed directly at his stomach.

“Well, it’s a bad stomach bug.  Maybe he’ll throw up again and feel better.”

Although we weren’t exactly sure what had caused his illness, we weren’t going to overreact.  He would be fine.  We kept telling ourselves this until he started running a fever.

We packed him the car and headed to the ER.  “He’s probably just dehydrated, but let’s be safe.”

“Does your son still have his appendix?”

“Of course he does, he’s only three.”

They have to ask the question, they have to consider every conceivable possibility, we told one another.  We wondered how long before they gave him an IV or maybe some antibiotics and sent us on our way.

After a series of X-rays and a sonogram, we waited for the doctor in the examination room.  We flipped through the channels on the TV, looking for something age-appropiate, which wasn’t easy to do on a Saturday at midnight.  We settled on the Olympic games, but they don’t save the best Olympic events to be broadcast at that time.

The doctor finally returned.  “It looks like the appendix.  We need to operate.”

The activity in the room increased.  Papers were signed, nurses did nurse stuff, and we stood there holding onto Samuel’s hand.  Surgery?  Appendix removal?  A member of the surgical team arrived and escorted the three of us to the surgical department.  We were allowed to wait with Samuel until the last possible moment.

“Don’t worry,” the surgeon told us, “We do this seven to ten times a day and even if we find the problem isn’t the appendix, we’ll be taking it out anyway so you never had to deal with this again.”

If that was meant to be reassuring, it wasn’t.  What if it wasn’t the appendix, then what?

A nurse gave us directions to the surgical waiting room and told us to expect a phone call within forty-five to fifty minutes.  “When the phone rings, pick it up.  There’s no one manning the desk at this hour.”  It was close to two in the morning.

We stood at the end of the hall and watched a team of medical strangers wheel our son away.  There was no time to google their names, check their references, interview other surgeons, or even get a second opinion.  We had to trust these strangers, these professionals who we’d never even met before.

Angela and I were too stunned to talk.  On our way to the surgical waiting room, I passed a vending machine.  I stopped, found a dollar bill in my wallet, and bought a package of strawberry Pop-Tarts.

“Have you ever seen Pop-Tarts in a vending machine?” I commented.

I didn’t know what else to say.

The TV was tuned to the Olympics so we stared at the women’s marathon race.  Even though we saw the finish, I can’t remember a single thing about the race.  I don’t know if the race was close or not or even who won.  I was trying not to think about the what ifs, but I wasn’t succeeding.  The what ifs are my default mental position.  What if we’d waited?  What if it wasn’t his appendix?  What if this?  What if that?  To take my mind off my worries, or at least to attempt to do so, I walked over to the vending machine and bought another package of strawberry Pop-Tarts.

The chemically concocted strawberry flavor failed to remove my worries.

Fifty minutes later, the phone rang and the voice on the other end told us Samuel was out of surgery.  The surgeon arrived a few minutes later with the details.  “His appendix had burst.  We’ll need to keep him in the hospital for five days for antibiotic treatment and observation.”

On the elevator ride to Samuel’s hospital room, we traded in our tickets and became those parents.  Sometimes, we’ve been proven right.  Would it be possible to get the flu twice in one month?  Yes, it would and it was.

But other times, we look like those parents.  We’ve taken him for an ear ache that turned out to be nothing more than a pimple on the inside of his ear and we’ve made another midnight trek to the ER for an upset stomach which turned out to be constipation.  Seven hundred dollars for an X-ray and an enema.  Seven hundred dollars!

But for every gripe and complaint I might want to utter about a seven hundred dollar visit to the ER for constipation, for every time we hesitate about calling the doctor or going to the ER, we only have to look at the surgical scar just to the right of his belly button.  And we when see that scar, we’ll gladly be those parents.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Bubba Dikes
    March 6, 2013 at 10:59 am

    I Never knew This. At Least i don’t remember Coy ever telling Me..We never know at times, But Better to be Safe than Sorry..Right…

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