Tuesday, January 29, 2008

just another sunday afternoon

It’s a funny thing, but when you walk into the ER of your local hospital with a 10-year old who just happens to be pumping blood from the top of his head, you get Seen. Right. Away. No waiting, just “health card please, someone is coming right out to check him.” And within seconds, someone seriously was right there. The nurse quickly had a look at the gash, put some gauze on it, added an ice pack and some more gauze and said “ok, hold this and the triage nurse will call your name soon.” I had just enough time to go outside and call John to let him know what was going on. When I came back in the triage nurse popped her head out and said, “I need to see Charles.” So we went in, she assessed him, took his vitals and asked us to wait in the waiting room, it wouldn’t be long. And it wasn’t. After about 25 minutes (practically instantaneous in ER waiting rooms, no?) They called us in, and put us in a room. 5 minutes later another nurse was cleaning his head, and things just went like clockwork from there. X-ray, more head cleaning, more assessing of vital signs and finally freezing and stitches and staples, and we were sent on our way with instructions, extra gauze and a funky staple remover to be used by our doctor later in the week.

So, the grand total? Approximately 5 and a half hours spent at the hospital, but almost every second with something going on. My conclusion? That this is, for real, what emergency departments are for. When it’s a true, full-on emergency – heart attack, stab wound, head trauma, respiratory failure? You are number one priority. When you arrive with a cough that you’ve had for 6 days, a kind of sort of pain in your foot, but you can still walk no problem? You kind of sort of have to…yeah, wait.

Ontario hospitals are frequently given a bad rap for wait times. Working in the system as I do now, I know that reducing wait times for anything and everything is number one priority across the province. Using the ER as a walk-in clinic does nothing to help with wait times, we all know that. At the same time, I also know that there are likely many people with no other option but to go to the ER with their ailments. So, with injuries or conditions that aren’t life-threatening, wait times seem to be very l o n g indeed. And I feel for people. I’ve been there with the 8-month old who is running a ridiculous fever that will not go down no matter how much Tempra or Tylenol or Glenfiddich you give him. And I’ve been there with the scary asthma attack that somehow manages to calm down as soon as you arrive at the ER leaving you going “unh, 2 seconds ago he was blue and gasping for air, I swear.” And at those times I waited my turn, so I know. And it can seem like you wait for days. But I also know that triage works to sort people dependent on how sick or injured they are. And they are good at their job, they know their shit. So, you might have seen me yesterday with my son, and yeah, we “got in” before you, and you probably thought I was too preoccupied to see the rolled eyes or the daggers you shot at us, because you were there first. I saw it all, people, and really? I’m sorry you have to wait longer…but come on. The boy totally needed to be fixed – and fast.

I’m also keenly aware, as I get to nearly the end of this post, that part of my focus on giving props to the hospital and everyone that helped us out and to the healthcare system for actually working well, like it’s supposed to, is that I just do not want to think about what exactly went down yesterday afternoon, and how scared I actually was. La la la, he’s fine, it all worked out, he’s going to be great, la la la. When x-rays are taken of your kid’s neck, even though you know it’s precautionary, that’s huge. When the doctor, while looking into the gash says to the med student with him “see there? Yeah, that’s his skull – we really need to be sure it’s not cracked.” That’s fucking enormous. So focusing on the details, sending kudos to the nice child life specialist who brought us juice and a stress ball for Charles to squeeze? So much easier than coming to terms with the fact that my baby spent several hours lying on a stretcher bleeding from the head after being thrown from a sled and landing on some rocks head first. Yeah, let’s talk about the little things to make the big things go away.

But it did work out, and he’s home and fixed up and feeling pretty good. It was bad, but it could have been so much worse. And I am so, so grateful that the worst case scenarios – that I am famous for creating, I’ll have you know – playing over and over in my mind, are just there. In my mind. He’s going to be fine. But his tobogganing career? So over.

Friday, January 11, 2008

what i wish i'd said

when he came in and i called him by name
he was surprised “you remembered my name,” he said
i said “of course.”

what i wish i’d said
“there are some people and some situations you just don’t forget. ever.”

when he told me that his wife had died
i said, “i read her obituary in the paper. i’m so sorry.”
he said “yeah. me too.”

what i wish i’d said
“it fucking sucks. she was too young. too loved, too important to you. it’s so unfair. your tribute to her was amazing, your strength incredible.”

when he handed me the book he’d borrowed, the book that was meant to help him explain to his kids that their mother was dying
i said, “thanks for bringing it back.”

what i wish i’d said
“how are they doing? how are you coping? is there any way i can help, anything else i can do?”

when he turned to leave he said, “thanks for all your help”
i said, “you’re very welcome. take care of yourself.”

what i wish i’d said
“be strong. be strong for your kids, keep them safe. right now the grief is swallowing you whole. but you’ll climb out of it, i know you will. and you’ll go on. you will.”

i thought all those things. i didn’t say them.
i wish I had.

but i get the feeling he heard them.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

the highlight reel

I've never been much of a new year's resolution person, I find the whole thing ambiguous. It's hard not to buy in though, when there is so much advertising and what have you directed towards "a new you in 2008!" I think if I was going to claim that I'm new, I'd do it in, say August, when no one else is doing anything of note regarding renewing themselves. Otherwise you kind of get lost in the shuffle. So people would go "wow, e-L is a new her - in August - cool!" or whatever.

One thing that I've always been a sucker for though, are the "year in review" articles and lists of "best of" the year, and other crap like that. Sure, there's some serious ambiguity there too - it's one person's opinion of what went down that was notable throughout the year, after all. And there are always differing opinions of what rocked out and what sucked, but part of what I like about these year end lists is that I can read them and get all superior like "pah! as IF that was the best movie this year - ha!" Not that I actually saw a movie this year. That was just an example. But still, I can denounce the list, should I choose to.

So tonight, I thought I'd do my own take on what rocked in 07 - e-L style. I'm not going to go into what sucked, because why bother? It's all about the rocking. You can go ahead and denounce if you want - but it's my list:

The Job:
The job is officially one year old today, and kids, I have never been happier in a workplace than I am now. And I'm sorry for those of you who aren't happy at work - I've been there and it's awful - but I'm here to tell you the ideal job can be found. I'm living the dream. Okay, maybe not "the" dream, but as of right now, and for every goddamn day last year, I was excited to get out of bed, and head off to work. The work is interesting, I'm treated with respect, people genuinely think I'm smart (which I totally am, of course) and every day I feel like I'm making a difference in someone's life, and there is seriously nothing like it.

The Birthday:
Shortly after the job started, I turned 40. When the big day actually happened, when I changed decades after loving my 30s, I would probably not have said that it would be a "look back on 07 highlight". In fact I think I actually had a little fit. But, after almost completing that 40th year, I have to say I'm starting to get the hang of it. It also helps that people tell me"oh my god, you SO do not look 40!" So that part rocks. The other part of it is that I'm 40 and I'm still here. I saw way too many people this year who didn't make it to 40, and that is just so, so unfair. So I'm 40 and healthy, and so very lucky.

The Health:
This actually carries over from the birthday, but I want to point out that I didn't miss a single day of work in 07 due to illness. For reals. This is, absolutely a first for me. Not that I'm a absentee poster girl or anything, but I've always had something at some point throughout the year - especially when the boys were little and they attended that pitri dish/pit of plague known as daycare. Somehow this year though, I managed to work every day I was scheduled to work so this is a true, true highlight for me.

The Vacation:
Again, a slight carry over from above. So with the great new job comes great new vacation. I've never had paid vacation before, so this glorious addition to my world was nothing short of a miracle. And when I booked my week off in August so that we could go and live it up at the cottage, swim, relax, read 4 dozen books, have fires in the evenings, go for long walks, it was almost too good to be true. And it was. Because alllll the sickness I didn't have during work time? Yeah, that showed up for vacation. So I rocked the sore throat/fever/cough/aches and general crappiness for 9. whole. days. Somehow I managed to do everything on the "what I did on my summer vacation" list, but I did them all in an Advil and throat lozenge fog. Finally on about day 7 I went to the doctor and got a prescription for - you guessed it - more Advil and throat lozenges. Eventually it turned out I had pneumonia, but whatever. I didn't have to use up sick days. So that totally counts.

The Boys:
Our kids started grades 5 and 2 in September, and it's hard to believe how fast they are growing up. And also how awesome they are. You get used to the "milestones" when you're a new or fairly new parent - first smiles, first words, first steps - then later it's toilet training, riding a tricycle, taking music lessons, learning to read. The funny thing is the milestones just don't stop. Now they're a little more subtle, you have to hear about them or ask about stuff that's going on because you're not with them 24/7 anymore. So we hear about how Max got an award at school for being considerate. Or how Charles is teaching himself to play the bass. I'm astounded with their knowledge - they just know stuff. And when I ask them "how do you know that?" They tell me "oh, I just read about it from a book I got from the library" or "we're studying it in school, it's SO cool". So while they know all the basics - walking, talking, reading - they continue to blow me away with everything else. We can have whole conversations about penguin habitats, or they can read me an article from Owl magazine and we can discuss eco-friendly houses or what happened to the electric car. I love it. I've loved all their stages (except maybe for toilet training) but I have to say I am so enjoying who they are right now so much. The only pangs I get are the teeny ones that tell me it's only a matter of a few years and maybe they won't have a lot of time for me. Those feelings I can push down though, because for now, it's all so good.

Happy 2008, blogfriends. It's gonna rock.
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