Wednesday, April 10, 2013

From Left to Write: Afterwards

I return to the Blogosphere with an account of Princess E's trip to the ER last week. She has been unlucky the past few months with one cold after another. She had a lingering cough that would act up at night time. Last Tuesday she started coughing during the day. She was wheezing audibly by 6 PM, at which point I called Kaiser. To give you some background, this wasn't my first trip to the rodeo. H had cold-induced asthma as a toddler. R had croup which was so severe he needed to be hospitalized. That is why we own a nebulizer and have facemasks and cords bulging out of our medicine cabinet. Because of our previous experiences with the kids, I, in all my medical wisdom, decided I would ask Kaiser for a prescription for albuterol so Princess E could have a breathing treatment. The nurse listened but ultimately denied my request and told me I should take my daughter to the ER if she got worse.

Two hours later, Princess E was wheezing even more and then threw up violently after I tried to brush her teeth. I figured that meant she was "worse." I drove her to the Santa Clara Kaiser ER even though there was another Kaiser ER 10 min from my house. Stewart and I each had had bad experiences with the closer Kaiser ER and I thought driving to the one in Santa Clara would assure us of a better experience. Ummm, not! The same intake doctor who had been at the closer hospital ER was now at the Santa Clara Kaiser, whaaaat! He didn't seem to think that Princess E was in serious condition so stuck us in the exam room/supply closet. It was very strange. Doctors and nurses would walk in to get supplies while we were waiting for the exam doctor. Maybe they felt bad about this, but all of them felt like they had to pat Princess E's head or squeeze her foot. Hey doctor, why are you touching my kid without sanitizing your hands??????

Finally the exam doctor comes to examine Princess E and says what she needs is a breathing treatment (yeah,
really?). They also order a chest X-ray to rule out pneumonia since she has been sick for so long. Almost immediately after the breathing treatment, Princess E is breathing better. I really don't see why they needed to make us go to the ER when they could have ordered a prescription for her for the exact same thing. Since albuterol is not a harsh drug by any means, letting her have the treatment at home and then having us follow up with her pediatrician the next day would've made more sense to me. All clear on the X-ray, by the way.

Being in the hospital with Princess E made me think of Grace, the main character in the novel Afterwards that I had just read for the From Left to Write book club. Grace thought she knew what was the best for her daughter and (I don't want to spoil it for you so I'll be vague) engineered it medically so that what she wanted for her daughter would be done by the doctors. Grace knew what her daughter needed and made sure she got it. In hindsight I feel like I should have been more insistent with the Kaiser nurse on the phone to get the albuterol, and if she had said no, I should have gotten the script from another doctor. Instead I let myself be cowed by the medical "professional" who didn't know my child or her history. I took Princess E to the ER where she was exposed to a needless X-ray and a plethora of germs, especially from the doctors and nurses who couldn't keep their hands off my beautiful daughter!

Next time, I won't be making the half an hour drive to the "better" ER. If I recognize the symptoms of something she has had before, then I will insist on home care. There is a saying in Korean 엄마 손, which translates into "mom's hands medicine hands." I think I know where that is coming from--no one knows a child better than her mother, no one loves her child better than her mother. And love can be a powerful medicine indeed.

This post was inspired by the novel Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton. After witnessing her children's school set ablaze, Grace attempts to find the arson as her teenage daughter lies in a coma in Lupton's suspense thriller. Grace fights for her daughter and believes she knows what her daughter needs. Join From Left to Write on April 11 as we discuss Afterwards. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.