Dealing with minor medical emergencies
Nomi and I have generally been very lucky when it comes to the health of Muffin and Squeaker. We know of some parents who have had their kids operated on for recurring ear infections, and of others who have had to take their children to the hospital for cancer treatments. Compared to that, the kinds of things we’ve had to worry about are extremely minor.
But a minor ailment is still an ailment. And when a child gets an ailment, no matter how minor, it’s still significant to them. Toddler and preschooler children tend to live in the “now,” not understanding as they’re undergoing an experience that it will be over soon. It takes a few incidents of being sick to understand that feeling bad is not for all time and that soon the pain will go away. For example, the first time Muffin got sick enough to throw up, she panicked, as she had no idea what it meant. Since then, she’s had minor stomach issues a few times, but now she knows what it means. It means she ate too much too fast and needs to slow down.
Still, we’ve been lucky. Rare is the incident when we have to drop everything and rush a kid to the doctor. As a result, I’ve become complacent and have assumed that we’re pretty much home free.
But of course, that’s just when the universe decides to throw you a curveball.
A few weeks ago, Nomi and I had a full day. We took the girls to the school they will be attending next year for a Kindergarten welcoming event, and then their babysitter picked them up and took them to their preschool. That evening, I, along with the rest of my colleagues on the Board of Library Trustees, had to interview candidates for the Library Director position in Brookline. I knew would get more work done if I didn’t have to include my usual daily commute, so I decided to work from home that day.
It turned out to be a good thing I did. At 11:12 am, while I was in the middle of a WebEx phone meeting, I got a phone call from the preschool. Squeaker had apparently been bumped into by a friend while dancing, and she had bitten her tongue. She was coughing up and vomiting blood, and I had to pick her up to take her to the doctor. I called her doctor’s office for an emergency appointment and then rushed over there while the babysitter picked Squeaker up to meet me. While I was heading over, I made sure to post about this on Facebook, because nothing is real unless it’s on social media. (Besides, I wanted the support of friends.)
Squeaker’s doctor examined her and found no laceration in the tongue. Her diagnosis: epistaxis, i.e., nosebleed. The bump had caused Squeaker to have a major nosebleed, and from what we could gather, someone had advised her to tilt her head back to stop the bleeding. Instead, the blood got into her throat, leading to the coughing and the vomiting.
Squeaker was so traumatized that she did not want to leave my side and of course she couldn’t go back to school that day. I ended up working on documents and taking meetings with a Squeaker by my side.
The long Memorial Day weekend passed without incident, and then, on Tuesday morning, Squeaker woke up at 4:30 am with another nosebleed. Nomi took care of it and we comforted her, and when Squeaker woke up in the morning her nosebleed was all done. The babysitter took her and her sister to preschool as I went to Town Hall to meet with the Library Director candidate the Board had chosen just before I was to head to the office for work.
And guess what? Nomi and I got another call from the preschool. Once again, Squeaker was coughing up blood and had to be taken to the doctor. And once again, I was glad I was still in Brookline. I met her and the babysitter at the doctor’s office again, and we had to convince Squeaker to pry open her mouth so the doctor could take a look. Squeaker was crying and scared to open her mouth, as she thought it was filled with blood. But, of course, it wasn’t. The bleeding had stopped, and once again, she received a diagnosis of epistaxis. I had not planned to work from home that day, but I ended up doing so, as Squeaker yet again needed her daddy.
Overall, this experience last week has made me grateful for the flexibility my employment affords me and the fact that the kids have had a babysitter available even when they are in preschool just in case. But I’ve also noticed that both of these incidents happened on days when I, in my capacity as the new chair of the Library Trustees, was meeting with the new Director of The Public Library of Brookline. I hope this doesn’t mean it’s going to be a trend….
This week’s column is written by Michael A. Burstein.
About this column: The adventures of two Brookline parents and their twin daughters, Muffin and Squeaker. Copyright 2014 by Michael and Nomi Burstein.