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One of my goals for 2017 was to avoid the emergency room (#4 on the list). Welp. Last week I failed to meet that goal.
It started the way most ER visits start for us. “I was taking a shower…”
That’s where I went wrong, folks. Taking a shower and wearing something other than pajamas during the day. That’s the start of Moe’s stitches saga, at least.
Anyway. Back to the story.
I did finish my shower and was getting dressed. Bea was on the floor in my room playing with the loot that ends up there after other kids drag it in there to keep it safe. The other kids were downstairs, and Bea was within an arm’s length of me. Let me reiterate: we were in the same room.
I lost visual connection with Bea briefly to comb my hair, and when I turned around, she was distressed.
“Stuck! Stuck!” she said, frantically trying to pull a metal canister off her head.
It was a canister just like one of these that normal people use for flour and sugar, but we use for helmets, apparently.
I didn’t get a picture, because it ended up being sort of a busy time. My cell phone doesn’t take pictures, so I would have had to find our actual camera. And it felt sort of silly to haul out the camera-camera to document Bea’s humiliation. Just picture the 3rd biggest canister on this adorable head, and you’ve got it.
I tried to wiggle it off, but it was positioned just so that the rim was already digging pretty significantly into the back of her neck. Convinced that I would sever her spinal cord if I struggled too much, I called our pediatrician’s office to ask if we should come in.
Nope. They didn’t want us to come in. They wanted us to go to the emergency room.
So I packed up the kids and dumped them off at my mom’s. Bucket-Head Bea, as she was known that day, was not pleased when she had to stay in the car while everyone else got out at Grandma’s.
We made good time up to the ER. I was convinced that the bucket was putting enough pressure on her head to cause further inflammation, which would make it even harder to remove the canister. I was sure that we’d be looking at some sort of welding/jaws-of-life contraption to try and free her, for which she’d probably have to undergo anesthesia.
The ER parking lot was pretty full, but there was one spot available…next to a police officer. (There were a lot of police cars in that parking lot, which makes me nervous. You don’t see police cars unless there’s a reason to need police cars.)
I carried Bea into the completely empty ER. (Where were all the people who drove those cars? Where were all the police? Or is the ER parking lot some sort of overflow for the police department?)
The only two people to be found were an older gentleman volunteer (the classy burgundy vest was a giveaway) and a young blonde woman. “Who do we have here?” she asked me.
“This is Bea. And her bucket,” I couldn’t resist trying to bring some humor to the situation. It really was hilarious except for the threat of death.
“I see. Fill out this sheet, and we can get you back to a room.” As I reached for a pen and set Bea on the counter, the lady startled me.
“Oh! Be careful. I just bleached the counter and everything.” Sweet. I’m not detective, but I think that means that the person who was at the counter right before us lost some bodily fluid of some sort. As I finished filling out the information sheet, I debated in my mind whether vomit or blood was the better fluid to be exposed to. (It was a pretty high counter, so I ruled out urine right away. Otherwise I think I’d prefer being exposed to a stranger’s (supposedly sterile) urine.)
We were lead to an exam room. I told my non-story to the nurse and then a CNP. (Here’s the whole backstory in case you missed it: Bea stuck a canister on her head. It wouldn’t come off. The pediatrician told us to go to the ER. The end.)
Bea has red hair, and so far her personality seems to fit the firecracker stereotype. She matches her big, active brother step-for-step and makes her opinions known. However, she also is very hesitant in new situations and with new people. Throughout all this I could tell she was super anxious. As the nurse examined her and her bucket, I could actually see her get more and more stressed. Eventually it started to leak out in the form of big, silent tears. While we waited for the CNP to come back with supplies and a plan, I held Bea and tried to comfort her.
Unfortunately, it is very difficult to cuddle someone with a decent-sized metal canister on their head. No matter how poor Bea situated herself, that d-a-m-n canister was in the way.
A team of nurses and the CNP came back armed with ultrasound gel and tongue depressors. The first step was to squirt a generous amount of gel into the gaps between the canister and her head. I held Bea, and the three of them tugged and pulled at different angles, sliding the tongue depressors around. I’m not sure if the tongue depressors were supposed to distribute the gel more evenly or loosen the pressure, but either way– it worked. Eventually the canister popped off.
They were surprised to see her red hair. For me, it was sort of a surreal deja vu– lots of nurses and activity and anxiety and pushing, then BAM! A baby with wet matted hair is oohed and aahed over.
From start to finish, Bea’s head was canistered for about two hours. And that was long enough.
That’s going to be one expensive canister. Or maybe not. One of the perks of spending 20% of your annual income on medical expenses is that it doesn’t take long to meet the maximum out of pocket for the year. It will probably just be whatever the ER co-pay is. That means we just got a free dum-dum and ultrasound hair gel, yo!
Your welcome, ER peeps, for the giggles. And thanks for freeing Bea without the use of the jaws of life or severing her spinal cord. Until next time!
Oh, and thanks, ultrasound gel, for helping me get a better view of my baby’s head. (Get it?!?!)