Thursday, July 17, 2008

What I wish someone would have told me before the Emergency Room

Let me first say that I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, but if someone would have told me some of these things, it may have saved us some dough and my kids some trauma.

Tis’ a Flesh Wound

My son was jumping on the trampoline at my brother’s house. Bless their hearts, they made the effort to put the safety net around their trampoline. But, it was the metal stairs that lead up to the trampoline that my son cut his head on during a mad, three-kid-scramble to climb out. I was at work, my husband was at school, my sister-in-law did the right thing by calling us. Of course, we hurried over to their house to attend to our son. Although the cut wasn’t deep, it was bleeding a lot. We took our five-year-old to the emergency room. By the time we arrived, the bleeding had stopped. We weren’t concerned about a concussion because my son was lucid and his pupils were their normal size, but we thought that stitches might be in order. When we finally saw the doctor, he informed us that head wounds tend to bleed a lot because there are a lot of capillaries near the surface. He said that the cut wasn’t deep or large enough to merit stitches. The doctor asked the nurse to put Neosporin on my kid’s head and sent us on our way. That was the most expensive tube of Neosporin ever!

Don’t Leave Home without your Pharmacy

Our other son tripped a couple weeks ago in the backyard and broke his arm. He is not prone to drama or whining, so when he continued crying and agonizing, I knew something had to be broken. When we got to the ER, they immediately immobilized his arm. That didn’t seem to help with the pain much. They said they had nothing to offer him for the pain. What? Isn’t this an ER? After over an hour of waiting, x-rays, and a temporary cast was put on, finally some Tylenol magically appeared. The instructions were to continue giving him Tylenol or Acetaminophen for the pain, Ibuprophen was not recommended. Had I known that he could have Tylenol, I would have given it to him before we left that house, that way he wouldn’t have had to suffer so much.

Yankee Doodle Out your Elbow

When my daughter was 3 and my sons were 5, they picked her up by her arms and legs and tried to swing her. She immediately started crying and holding her arm. Again, this child is not prone to whining or over-reacting, so when she continued crying and didn’t want to move her arm, we decided to take her to the ER. My husband, the Eagle Scout, created a splint for her. Keeping it immobile seemed to help a bit. Because we didn’t actually see what the boys did to her, we found out later through a remorseful confession, the doctor ordered x-rays, where they moved and manipulated my daughter’s arm as she howled and wailed like a chorus of love sick coyotes. It was awful to hear and to witness. When the x-rays came back clear, the doctor decided she had Nursemaid elbow. Basically he turned her palm up, pressed his thumb on the inside crease of her elbow and bent her arm. Voila, the crying and the pain immediately stopped. Then he repeated the procedure to show us how we could do it at home if it slipped out again. The instructions are on the web. Again, never at any point did they give her anything for the pain.

Up Your Nose with a Rubber Hose

During my jewelry making phase, I wasn’t as careful with my supplies as I should have been. Two-year-old Mini Me, on a couple of occasions, found the beads on the floor and shoved them up her nose. The first time it happened, Secret Agent Man and I ran circles around each other wondering how we were going to get that bead out. While we were stewing over what to do, she pulled herself up onto the couch, which took enough breath and exertion that she just blew it right out her nose. When we repeated the story to Grandma she reminded S.A.M. that Aunt Who’s-Its used to blow things out of kid’s noses by plugging the clear nostril and blowing gently in to the child’s mouth. The air would then force the bead or bean or whatever the offender may be right out. So, the second time Mini Me had a bead stuffed up her nose, obviously neither one of us learned our lesson the first time, Secret Agent Man swiftly blew it out. Aunt Who’s-It's technique worked like a charm!

I feel grateful our trips to the E.R. have been over minor incidences. I also feel grateful for the excellent care we have received. But, I think because of our lack of information and experience our kids have had to suffer and we have had to pay out more than we would have if we had armed ourselves with more information. I’m not suggesting that you don’t take your kid to the Emergency Room, I am suggesting that, we don't let embarrassment or fear of looking like a "bad" or neglectful parent keep us from sharing our stories with each other so that another family can benefit from or make a decision based on information and experience and not panic.

These are just our family's stories and our experience. If blowing into your kid’s mouth to get the macaroni noodle out of their nose, makes them go cross-eyed, don’t sue me because, as I said in the beginning, I’m not a doctor nor do I play one on TV.


  1. Livie and Taj both are like the nursemaid elbow queen and king. Sei can pop it in uber fast now, but I used to take them to the dr. cuz it grossed me out.
    Plugging the nostril and lowing in their mouth? Really?
    I remember a lady at church bringing her baby in the nursery, getting tweezers out of her purse and promptly removing lettuce out of her daughter's nose. Why she didn't do it before church I am not sure...

  2. Oh the guilt I feel for that kid getting hurt on my watch.

    So the nostril thing---does it work when they stick something in their ear too? We've never had things in the nose, but Buglet #2 shoved a pebble in his ear during naptime at kindergarten.

  3. We took our daughter to the urgent care once and got the nursemaid elbow lecture (and the instructions on how to fix it should it ever happen again, which it never did.)

    We have also had a popcorn kernal in the ear - thankfully it wasn't lodged in too tight and when we went swimming, it flushed itself out of the ear.

  4. "Aunt Who’s-It's technique worked like a charm!"


  5. Our specialty is stitches. One son has had them three times! And one had to have staples instead of stitches.
    The E.R. is no fun...thanks for the tips!

  6. So far, no ER trips for us thank goodness...surprising since my daughter likes to run full speed into walls and doors.

  7. OK, Carter got pain meds for his broken arm, and it wasn't no stinkin Tylenol either - he had an IV with morphine. I call foul on that one.

    He also had nursemaid elbow.

    Aunt Who-it's trick is exactly what the ER doc had me do to Bella, right there in the ER, after she shoved a tiny Lego up her nose.

  8. I'm so excited to learn that blowing in the nose trick, I'm half-tempted to shove something up my daughter's nose ;)

  9. oh man, what a bummer! sorry :(

    Elizabeth's comment is making me PMP

    (you've been tagged)

    here's to the rest of the summer of safety!

  10. Taylor, I don't know what PMP means. I hope it isn't hurting. I'm truly sorry. Please forgive me.

  11. You know, I went into parenthood all prepared and well trained in fixing the nursemaid elbow (I think we should rename it, nursemaids are getting a bad rap) and none of my kids have ever gotten one. As much as I've tried.

    Blowing in the mouth is a really handy bit of information too. It works on adults and children alike, right?

    I would so rather err on the side of "Here's some $375 neosporin" than, "Ma'am, we could have recovered this limb if you had come in 2 weeks ago when she first broke it." Which, I've almost done. Almost.

  12. Lately I've learned that super glue works great for most cuts. We've had a few that seemed like they would need stitches only to have the doctor super glue them shut.

    What? No pain meds for a broken bone? What is up with that kind of treatment?

    I'm amazed at how much I have learned about medicine and "what to do if.." on the internet. Sometimes I have the answer/solution before the doctor does. I try not to get a big head and humiliate the doc though:)

  13. Superglue works on cuts AND if they get a popcorn kernel in their ear! My friend put a little dab of superglue on the end of a Q-tip, put it in her kid's ear and voila! the kernel came right out!

  14. SWEET! Now I know how to perform mouth to mouth bead resuscitation!

  15. Thanks for all the tips Annie.
    All of my ER trips have been with Fashionista.

  16. I wish I'd known the blowing-in-mouth technique when Ty was a toddler! He shoved a raisin up his nose, and the moisture in there made it turn back into a big, juicy grape and get stuck! Luckily, the doctor was able to get the thing out! :0

  17. We have had some of those exact same ER moments. The "nurse-maid elbow" was so tramatic, but so easily fixed. It's too bad it took 3 hours before anyone tried that neat little trick.

    I wish I had tried the nose-blower thing the time John shoved a bead up his nose. That was a sad day at the Dr. office...

  18. Good to know! So far, no ER trips for us, but I feel like it's just a matter of time. Eek!


I see you sitting there. Leave a comment.