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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  • Reply BONNIE K July 28, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Oy, what a morning! I think business owners are so afraid of being sued these days that common courtesy/caring goes out the window. I hope your little girl is ok. (Did you guys ever drink the tea you bought?)

  • Reply Pricilla July 28, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    I am so very sorry for your daughter's pain. Something so pleasant as a cup of tea with mommy and her brother should not have devolved into such a situation.

    The owner was afraid of a lawsuit and doing what she could to appease. We are such a litigious society it is everyone's first thought – at least it was in NJ.

    The stupidista needs to learn the basics of human compassion but if she doesn't have it by now she is not gonna get it.

  • Reply Lola July 28, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    What a brave little girl!

    If I were you I would collect up the receipts for the ER co-pay, prescription co-pays and what wasn't covered, along with the Bratz doll receipt and email the figure back to the store manager. (Tell her the doll is to help comfort her as she heals.)

    While the gift certificates are nice, they should be a bonus and the manager should pay the cost of this injury that could be avoided. Those straws should be kept behind the Barista counter and given to adults with instructions to prevent injury. Even an adult could get injured if they absent-mindedly opened their straw and inserted it incorrectly.

  • Reply Katherine July 29, 2009 at 6:33 am

    I am ADDICTED to bubble tea..
    ( )

    but I think in my post I even mention the straws… I was thinking about a chocking hazard – those bubbles shoot up FAST! This is one of those kinds of accidents one of my kids would have – I hope she feels better!

  • Reply Stacie's Madness July 29, 2009 at 7:55 am

    wow. i can't imagine the pain your daughter must be in…

    *knock on wood* we haven't made too many trips to the ER…and I am sure I totally f-ing jinxed myself.

    *knocks wood again*

  • Reply A Lil Enchanted July 29, 2009 at 10:51 am

    OMG… how horrible! I agree with Lola… take copies of all of your receipts to her and ask her to pay the bill.

    Someone told me not long ago about a lil girl who was playing with a straw in her mouth… she was running around and fell and the straw jabbed into the roof of her mouth and into her brain and it killed her. So straws can be dangerous to children.

    I'm so glad to hear that your lil one only had a minor injury from this… it could have been much much worse. And thankfully mouth injuries heal quickly… I hope she feels better soon.

    A Lil Enchanted,

  • Reply Split Rock Ranch July 29, 2009 at 11:51 am

    Wow, who could have even imagined that a straw could be that lethal?! It probably wouldn't have even crossed my mind but it sounds like it wasn't the first time something like this happened with those straws. Sorry it happened and pretty much ruined everyone's day. I hope your daughter heals quickly. Did you get to drink the tea?

    I agree that if you collected all the receipts and presented copies of them to the store manager they might very likely reimburse you for them. Or, send an email to the company that manufactures the straws and request reimbursement from them. Then see what happens. In order to avoid litigation they just might pay all those bills for you! I mean, come on, some lady spills hot coffee from McDonald's in her lap and gets a couple mil for her stupidity, so you just never know!

  • Reply dana July 29, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    I'm so sick of hearing about silly lawsuits, that when I hear of one that wouldn't be THAT silly, it makes me wonder. I was eating lunch in a chinese restaurant and I had just bitten into some AMERICAN potatoes from their bar. My mouth was ON FIRE and only got worse. I left and several days later went to my doctor. HE reported it to the health department. The health department contacted ME and asked if I wanted to SUE. SUE? ME? NO!

    "Why'd you ask?" I said.

    "Well", said the health department, "they had the DRAINO above the potatoes and some had dripped in and we'd be your witness". Now THAT was a lawsuit asking to be lodged. But I didn't.

    You could do it darlin, and win. At the very least, make copies and send the bills to the woman you spoke to or to the parent company.

  • Reply Leanne July 29, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    Yikes. I'm sorry you went through this. I hope she's feeling okay!

    We took the neighbor's kid to the ER this weekend and as we were leaving another neighbor walked in with her kid. Must be something in the water!

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  • Reply Split Rock Ranch July 30, 2009 at 10:59 am

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  • Reply Shelly July 30, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    Oh my. Glad she turned out to be okay. What an awful experience. I would NOT have excepted the coupons and made it a point to NOT go there again. Some people can be so insensitive and only caring of themselves. Sorry you had to endure that.

  • Reply Frogs in my formula July 30, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    Good grief what a story. I'm glad she's all right. Sounds like they
    need to change the design of their straws. And soon.

  • Reply GDad July 31, 2009 at 6:33 am

    I'm sorry for Daughter's accident, but I'm glad it ended up being a fairly quick ER stay.

    All our best from here in Midwest State.

  • Reply JD at I Do Things July 31, 2009 at 7:50 am

    Yikes. Beware of sharp straws. Your poor daughter . . . and poor YOU. Sounds like you handled everything quite well, whereas I'm pretty sure I would've fainted.

    I'm sure the tea shop owner was afraid if she did anything more than offer you some gift certificates, it would be tantamount to admitting guilt. Not that that explanation helps.

    I'm glad your daughter is okay and didn't need stitches. Ouch.

  • Reply Jen July 31, 2009 at 8:07 am

    Bonnie, if they are afraid of being sued they might train their staff to be more caring. My son drank his tea but daughter's and mine got too warm in the car while we were in the ER.

    Pricilla, I agree about the stupidista, though I think she could have been scared or maybe squeamish or just and insensitive boob, I don't know but we don't have many people in the midwest who act that way. Of course she was probably a student at Macalester so could have been from another part of the country. She was incredibly helpful before the accident however.

    Lola, I may just do that since the coupons have not arrived yet. I don't want to sue this business, they are a small local business, but I do want to see the straws moved behind the counter. I've heard many stories of this kind of thing happening since this incident so ours wasn't the first.

    Katherine, This tea has all sorts of fruit and candy in it, at least the kind my kids got. The straws are large to get the stuff through them. I can't see going back there myself.

    Stacie, I hope you didn't jinx yourself but I thought the same thing when you said it. Fingers crossed, it's the last thing you need.

    Enchanted, they do heal quickly, three days later and it's already got a scab over it and closed up. Amazing.

    Split Rock, I don't want to sue, I think the McDonalds thing was silly but this woman's attitude pisses me off. I don't know what she could do to make me not pissed off but stating it wasn't her fault didn't help. I haven't been back in to see if the straws have been moved but I bet they haven't been.

    Dana, YOU should sue. Poison with a little potato…I hope you are feeling better.

    Leanne, it's nearing the end of summer and kids are bored or need attention, not sure which. Or maybe parents just can't stand watching over them every second of the day at this point. I don't know but they always seem to increase this time of year, at least for me.

    Shelly, I have no desire to go there again. Like I said I'm not much of a tea drinker but at least at the coffee shop the straws are tiny and they aren't cut at an angle, you can't actually suck anything up them but they are not dangerous.

    Frogs, that is my goal to be forever known as that crazy overprotective mom who forever changed the design of straws on bubble tea.

    GDad, Thanks.

    Daughter is doing much better. She is eating solid food even though she would prefer to eat ice cream for another three days. She took only one dose of pain medication but that was because it has codeine in it and I really wanted her to go to sleep. She hasn't complained about her boo-boo at all which is amazing since she can milk a skinned knee for a week.

  • Reply Jen July 31, 2009 at 8:11 am

    JD, every time I think about the incident I think "I poked a straw through the roof of my mouth so you don't have to" can't help it. Great presentation at Blogher by the way. I agree the owner of the shop was covering her ass but honestly I don't know what there is to sue for. Daughter is not permanently damaged. We had a few hours in the ER but I got a good post out of it so I can't complain too much. It's the Bratz doll that irritates me since I hate them and had just finished telling daughter I was not buying anymore dolls til christmas.

  • Reply The Mother July 31, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    You made it all the way to the end of July with only one incident–you should be thanking your lucky stars.

    Glad she'll be okay.

  • Reply Kathy July 31, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    I'm sorry your poor little girl had to go through that. And you! As others said, I'm sure managers are trained not to apologize for too much, lest a customer file a lawsuit. But they don't know how it'd actually help them in so many cases. Glad everything turned out OK. Had she needed stitches, oh boy. Glad she got ice cream, though. Ice cream makes everything better.

  • Reply Gauche August 12, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    man, that's…insane. You're telling me the manager sincerely thought a fair exchange for emotional trama, doctor bills and medication was a gift certificate? Really?

    I'll be honest with you, I'm surprised you didn't get a lawyer. I'd look into if the straws are really shipped that way or not…cause if not, I smell law suit.

    I am truly sorry for your little girl's pain and hope she recovers quickly. in the mean time….nothing like ice cream to cheer you up! I suggest mint n chip!

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