More than just a trip to the ER — Part 1

After a four hour visit to the Emergency Room, my son had more than just his first set of stitches…

emergency-280pixJackson is shrieking in pain as I help him walk into the Emergency Room, blood still pouring down his leg as he tries to hold a towel over the gash on his knee.

He fell on a jagged rock while chasing our dog in the neighbour’s backyard and his skin is gauged, exposing more than an inch of flesh.

I know he will need stitches. And I know it will be torture on my son whose anxiety and low tolerance for pain or discomfort makes even a fluoride treatment at the dentist impossible. (Jackson needed to go under general anaesthetic to get his cavities filled.)

After checking in, getting Jackson into a wheelchair, and having Jackson’s vitals checked by the nurse, I wheel him over to the seating area in the waiting room. We are in Canada, for which I am forever grateful, but that does mean a long wait in the ER.

Jackson is crying, agonizing not just over the pain in his leg but the fear of what is to come. But we aren’t there for more than a few minutes before the other patients reach out to help.

“It won’t hurt at all,” the man sitting next to us assures him. He points out his scars and shares some stories. We will find out soon that his wife sitting next to him is miscarrying, but still she kindly asks Jackson his name and what sports he likes to play.

Another woman who was there with her elderly mother, as well as a woman patient waiting for treatment, also join in to help ease Jackson’s fears. They all tell Jackson about their stitches, show him scars and promise him he won’t feel a thing.

The conversation and words of comfort are a salve for Jackson’s pain. He begins to smile and even laugh. The minutes quickly pass.

Soon our conversation is interrupted by a priest arriving to pray for the couple who had been talking with us. We hear that she is bleeding and may be miscarrying her baby.

I gasp in shock, feeling terrible that this woman may be losing her child while she tends to easing my son’s pain. I have been where she is and my heart rushes with empathy. I want to cry for her.

The priest and the couple move to another room to pray and our group continues to bond, sharing our stories and helping pass the time.

One by one, we are called into the next “waiting room,” the hallway behind the glass doors. We are the last to be called and then we rejoin “our group.”

It is nice to be back with the friendly faces. As we talk, we find out about the elderly woman’s trials, how her daughter had to take off of work to try and care for her after she fell and sprained her arm in a dizzy spell from her diabetes. She shows us her bruise. It is like nothing I have ever seen, her whole arm and shoulder are purple and swollen. She is in a nightgown, wrapped in her daughter’s bathrobe. She makes me want to never grow old and have my body betray me.

We talk with the couple who had had the priest come to pray for them. I ask about her other children. I tell her about my miscarriage and about Olivia, whom I thought I was losing twice and sat in this very hallway on two different occasions waiting for ultrasounds, sure she was gone.

I take a break from conversations and sit quietly with Jackson.

Then the pregnant woman suddenly starts to weep. She is miscarrying her child in front of us. Blood is gushing from her. The daughter of the elderly woman puts her hand on her shoulder and begins to pray as her husband runs to find the nurse. I sit down and join in the prayer with this stranger with whom I already felt a bond of friendship.

The nurses take her to another room and Jackson tries to make sense of what he has just seen. “But the baby isn’t going to die, right???… And if it does… it is ok, right? Cause he will go straight to heaven, right?”

“Yes, sweetheart,” I try to reassure him, in shock about what my son has just witnessed in this hospital hallway…

To Be Continued…

Read Part 2


  1. says

    Oh what a day. I am so sorry that your son is hurt, but am glad he is home safe now. You have written part 1 of your experience today with a lot of beauty and tenderness. Rest well, please.

  2. says

    How awful they should of taken that lady straight back in the first place. Jackson sounds very strong and I’m sure he got through it fine. My daughter was 2-3 at the time but fell on a cjair and gashed her head open. They made us wait of course, but they used bonding glue stuff instead of stitches, and she was fine.

    Hop he feels better

    • says

      Yes – they should have taken her back. But it is a small hospital in an area that has grown exponentially in the last decade. They simply don’t have enough room. I should have taken him to Children’s Hospital. I usually take him there. But it is in the city, 45min away and both of us were in shock.

  3. says

    What er I’s this?? Seriously that is nuts! As said why was that woman there and when similar happened to my son who is the same anxiety wise, they fast tracked him for bring a kid with an open wound. They used to have a kids er at local hosp but couldn’t afford it. That is the type of stuff we need to fight for. Your poor son to see that poor woman. I would be writing letters of complaint to hosp and health minister

    • says

      Yes – it was very unfortunate. But in the hospital’s defense, they simply don’t have enough room and the woman wasn’t bleeding out and when she started to the moved quickly.
      As I said to the last commenter, it is a small hospital in an area that has grown exponentially in the last decade. They simply don’t have enough room. I should have taken him to Children’s Hospital. I usually take him there. But it is in the city, 45min away and both of us were in shock.

  4. says

    Wow…you never expect to be touched like that by a trip to the ER…that is so sad. I hope he’s doing well, but there were a lot of insights gained from this trip that you probably never saw coming.

  5. says

    Oh my, tears in my eyes as I read that. Have been out of the Twitter loop lately. So touching that everyone bonded together in the waiting area. Of course, I have to admit I am shocked the poor woman was still sitting there and not in a more private area. My son (6) has high anxiety, especially when medical personal are involved. Thank goodness we now have an amazing ER that we can go to that is more quiet and they were so kind to him after a shovel to his eyebrow back in December. We were lucky, no stitches, but needed glue since it was a deep gash. Big hugs to you after that event.

  6. says

    I’m so sorry for your son, for you, for everyone in that room. But what a beautiful story of people reaching out and loving each other.

    Perhaps all of you, including your son, needed each other more than you needed sterile privacy.

  7. says

    wow so much as happen while waiting! I feel sad for the lady that was having a miscarriage! But is nice to see that little community feeling hat you all have experience while waiting.

  8. says

    I don’t have a lot of experience with ER, my kids have been healty and injury free (so far) So I’ve been very bless that way.

    But the only time I went to ER was for myself and I didn’t wait at all, maybe puking on the triage nurse and having a greenish color to my skin scare them ( My appendix had burst and my blood was getting infected) but within a few minutes I was in OR and don’t remember much of the rest.

    So I always jokingly tell my friend if your kids need to go to ER make sure that they puke, that is the ticket to go faster LOL

    I heard from one of my friend that she went to ER with her son cause he broke his arm and they had to wait 10 hours!!!!

    I know I’m happy not to pay for going to ER but 10 hours with broken bone and pain!!! Poor little man!!!

  9. says

    What a powerful post already. I’m crying of course and I have never miscarried. I will not post comments of judgement of what type of ER this is or about our Healthcare system (i’m Canadian as well). I hope your going in a different direction than that.

    • says

      Yes – a totally different direction. I just published part 2.

      I am not criticizing our health care system at all actually. It needs more money for sure, but I am still proud to be Canadian with universal care.

      In the hospital’s defense, they didn’t know that woman was going to bleed out. She seemed in stable condition.

      An ER waiting room is inherently full of tragedy. Next time I will make the drive to Children’s Hosptial in the city.

  10. says

    What a rich time of sharing. The times I have been in the ER, everyone sits huddled by themselves or just with the ones who came with them.

    I am sorry Jackson had to witness that, but God had some reason for allowing it. How wonderful that he was able to put it in perspective right away, that even though the baby was gone, he or she would be in heaven. Having been through this with his own sibling, he has a heart of compassion and can pray for the mom’s comfort just as she tried to comfort him.

    • says

      Yes – I believe Jackson grew from his experiences there. It probably in a way helped him to understand and heal from losing his own sibling.

      I just published Part 2. :)

  11. says

    What a beautifully written post about life in action. Very powerful! There is a definite time and reason for everything and if only we could see the reactions from your visit to the hospital with Jackson. Hope Jackson is feeling better and I can’t wait to read the rest of the story.

      • says

        oh I remember that about being on paxil. I don’t have that same issue with wellbutrin- I cry at the drop of a hat it seems!! And by the way, I am super impressed that you are responding to each comment… that amount you girls get done absolutely amazes me!!

    • says

      Yes – it is too bad she wasn’t in a room. But perhaps the company and prayer made her feel not so alone. I have sat for lonely hours during a miscarriage and I think company and prayer would have been nice.

  12. says

    Wow, what an amazing and emotional experience you had. It’s fantastic to hear all of those people, strangers, gathering around to help your son. The woman miscarrying is so, so sad. It breaks my heart.

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