Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Critical Mom's Emergency Room

Sometimes, it pays to live in a small city. 
How well I remember the time I stepped on broken glass, cutting my foot badly, on the afternoon of the day I was going to fly home to Germany from Paradise, aka New York.  The wonderful au pair scooped up the two-year-old, said, "I'll finish your packing!  Find a doctor!  Go!"  so I limped out of the house, thinking "at all costs I will avoid the St. Luke's emergency room down the block."  I stopped at the office of an ophthalmologist whom I'd known since I was six.  Could he possibly just stitch up my foot or give me a tetanus shot?  The secretary wouldn't even let me say hello to him.  I'd been out of the country too long to realize how much things had changed.  So I sat in the St. Luke's emergency room among the teenaged members of the oldest profession and the very old alcoholic men with gruesomely infected feet and what sounded like tuberculosis . . . they were coughing their lungs out in my lap.  A fist fight broke out among the girls . . .  "YOU da @#$%^Y&UI ho!" "No, YOU da #$%^Y&UIOP{!!! ho!"  I moved out of the way, not before hearing cuss words that even I, a  woman of forty-something at the time, had never dreamed existed, but the security guards intervened.  Suddenly I did a horribly middle class thing.  I got up, went to the secretary, pulled out my credit card, and said, "Please let me see a doctor.  I'll pay right now."  And they glued my foot together.  And I paid.  And I hated myself, but I made the plane.  The whole thing took around five hours.

Fast forward to today.  The two year old is now a strapping sixteen, and I was getting a quick dinner ready for him, his brother, and his sister, and their friend.  Guilty about the frozen pizza, I thought I should at least slice some cucumbers before zipping out to a concert with my husband, and even though we had exactly four minutes before I had to be out the door, I grabbed a knife and inserted it in the plastic wrap covering the cucumber, as I have done on numerous occasions.    Only this time my hand slipped and so did the knife, and blood spurted from a spot between my thumb and forefinger.  I closed the wound with a bandaid.

"Mommy, forget the concert!" said my sensible kids.  "Just go to the emergency room!"  I knew they were right but my voice teacher was giving the concert, and I really wanted to hear it.  So I went.  With my husband.  Who didn't really have time to go, since he had to drive the kid's friend to the airport . . . but it was great, and on the way home to drive the kid he dropped me at the emergency room.  

"Augenblick!" (Just a moment!") said the nurse as she pointed me toward the waiting room.  She was sympathetic, too.  And only about forty Augenblicks later (I was expecting at least four thousand Augenblicks) they treated my hand.  And here I am, typing with it.  But it still hurts, so I'll stop now.  But it's got a big bandage on it, oceans of disinfectant and everything!

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