It's Officially Summer, We've Been to the ER

July 28, 2009

Summer is officially here now that we have made our annual trip to the ER. We go in the winter time too but it has been a while since the cat scratched my son’s eye or he had a 50lb weight drop on his finger.

This time it was my daughter who got to make the trip. Actually, all of us got to make the trip but it was her injury that brought us there.

My son had an orthodontist appointment this morning. A short visit to put spacers in between his teeth so they had room to put the bands on his molars next week. The visit took less than five minutes so daughter and I went to the hardware store at the corner to find some squirrel repellent and bird seed. I was told that Brit Hume has a recipe for all natural squirrel repellent but I have been unable to find it on Google. Why the anchor from Fox is known for his squirrel repellent is beyond my understanding but I asked the guy three times if that was the right name and he said it was.

As we were leaving the hardware store my son mentioned he would like some tea from the Tea Garden next door. This is not unlike a Starbucks where they charge you $23.95 for a glass of tea that would cost about $.25 at home. But it was a beautiful day, the kids were not yelling at each other and I was in a good mood having received my first ever payment from Google for my ads. It only took a year and a half but it felt great so why not blow it all on tea, with bubbles no less?

We went to the tea shop, ordered our tea, which is even more confusing than ordering coffee, and waited as the barista made our drinks. My son read the local ads for musicians that are featured on the wall of this college area tea house as my daughter looked at the art on the wall. While I was paying for the drinks my daughter had grabbed a straw for her bubble tea. She is six and I thought nothing of her having a straw. Boy was I wrong.

The straws in the tea store are cut at an angle so that they can poke easily through the foil that seals the beverage cups. Why they seal them rather than using one of those lids that has a hole in it I don’t know but I suppose they do it as a way to differentiate themselves from McDonald’s and prevent spilling for transportation. I’m guessing. Anyway, since the straws are cut at an angle they are sharp, they need to be to poke through the seal but they are also sharp enough to poke through the upper pallet of a little girl, which is precisely what happened.

I looked over at my daughter who was suddenly very quiet. She was scrunching her face and I could see what looked like tears even though she wasn’t screaming yet. When my daughter gets an owie she lets everyone know about it so that she was so quiet was a little disturbing. I asked her what had happened and she just held the straw out to me. I looked in her mouth, already knowing what had happened and braced myself so I didn’t throw up when I saw what I was about to see. She had a gaping, bloody hole on the roof of her mouth.

I’m not squeamish. I’ve held bones in place while the doctor (grandpa) went down to the office to get his black bag, I’ve sewn up my dog when he got a huge boo-boo. I’ve removed my own stitches over and over again because I don’t want to take the time to go to the doctor to get them removed. I’ve been puked on, pooped on, and stopped too many bloody noses to count. I can handle blood and guts but when it comes to my child’s face I have a hell of a time keeping it together. I didn’t want to scare her anymore than she already was so I kept it light and bouncy but I really wanted to pass out myself when I saw this gaping hole in a place where it should not be, one that is far too close to my child’s brain, and as I learned later, her carotid artery.

So we headed on down to the ER. My daughter does not like going to the doctor, she does not like getting her finger pricked to test her hemoglobin. This is the pain she fears so I am doing all I can not to tell her that she most likely needs stitches but that the doctor, or nurse, will give her a shot so she can’t feel the stitches going in. Instead I try to convince her that doctors will help her feel better and it is the possible infection that we all need to be worried about more than anything. A pill will more than likely solve her problem but if she refuses to go, which of course she can’t, she will likely get sick so that she needs to have her finger pricked. All really round about logic but I was trying to distract myself as well as she. My son, on the other hand, had a better idea of what needed to be said to calm her down.

“If you keep screaming like that you are going to rip your whole mouth open and the top of your head might fall off, then you’ll have to get that stitched on, and boy, will that hurt.”

It worked.

We were seen very quickly since it was morning and the rush of the ER hadn’t started yet. The doctor convinced my daughter to open her mouth, he took a quick peek and announced that no stitches were necessary. He did want to take an x-ray to make sure she didn’t cut her artery or any other vital part of her body but there was to be no finger pricking or stitches necessary. We were given two prescriptions, antibiotics and pain killers, told that ice cream might be the diet for the next couple of days, and sent on our way.

After we got the scripts filled and bought a toy for the child I had a moment to let it all sink in. I was irritated with the barista of the store who did nothing, she didn’t offer her assistance in anyway nor did she ask how my daughter was. I realize it was obvious how she was but it would have been nice for the woman to ask if there was anything she could do. There was no one else in the store when the incident happened but she ignored us completely. It was actually rather bizarre. I looked up the store online and sent them a short email telling them what had happened. I mentioned that the straws needed to be either cut straight or better yet kept out of the way of children. I also mentioned that the barista was worthless in an emergency.

Within about 15 minutes I got a call from the owner of the store. She was apologetic, asked how my daughter was doing and then berated her staff for being so insensitive. She then went on to say that the straws had to be cut that way so they could rip through the foil on the top of the cup. She was sure to mention that they came already cut from the manufacturer and were not cut on the premises. She also made sure to state that this was not her fault.

I know as well as any mother, or father for that matter, that if a kid can get hurt they will. I wasn’t blaming this gaping hole in my child’s mouth on them but the more she denied any culpability the more I was convinced it was all her fault, even though she was no where near the store when the whole thing happened. I suggested she move the straws so other kids don’t have this happen to them. She said she would consider it and then offered me some gift certificates for tea.

I’m not a huge tea drinker. The only way to make it taste good is to load it up with gobs of sugar and that takes any health benefits away so I stick with coffee which I can drink black. I accepted her offer of free tea since my son likes the shop but I was a little pissed off that she though a couple of gift certificates was the answer. This little straw episode cost me my whole morning, the co-pay on the ER visit, the co-pay on the medication that was covered and $50. for the medication that wasn’t covered. It cost me $5. in parking and another $12. for the Bratz doll I bought her to help her feel better (I know, I know). I hardly think a couple of gift certificates make this all better and to be honest I don’t really want to go back there and I know my daughter doesn’t want to. I should have told the woman to move the straws and pick up the tab for the Bratz Doll, something I hate buying but was helpless in refusing. Of course I wasn’t thinking straight at the time. We should have gone to McDonald’s.

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