11 p.m. we are driving down the road on our way to the E.R. Red says to me, "When I'm an adult and I get this sick...who is going to drive me to the doctor?" Before we left the house he had asked, "If I was living in my own apartment and I am this sick...who would help take care of me and tell me what to do?" I wanted to tell him, you are not the first or the last man who can't figure out what to do when they are sick. Many of them do nothing...they just lay there helplessly, in misery. "Hopefully there will be a woman in your life who will help you, or hopefully a roommate," I say knowing, it may very well end up being me.
He had this little cough for days...no fever, no loss of appetite. I started out with herbal, natural remedies, teas, honey, lemon, steamy baths, eucalyptus and peppermint oil. I progressed to trying everything in the book of pharmaceuticals. Whatever I gave him would make things slightly better for maybe an hour or while he slept. Until every thing stopped working...completely.
His dad kept telling me to put on a mask or something as I kept going in and out of his room and later in and out of the steamy bathroom, where I had him soaking in a eucalyptus, peppermint and lavendar bath. I kept going in to tell him what to do next. "I don't want you to get sick," hubby says. "I am his mother...I don't care about that. I have to take care of my son!" Hubby accused me of biting his head off and maybe I did. A mother has to do what a mother has to do, without hesitation or apprehension.
"God knew exactly what he was doing when he created woman. He thought to himself ...he'll never make it...smh." My Facebook status that night.
(Sorry men...don't mean to bash you. I love you...really...well, most of you.)
I did my hand-washing and cupped my face when he was coughing, and had him cough into a wash towel as a precaution, but I didn't think twice about not being around him.
We arrive at the hospital and get out of the car into to the cold, night air. I make him put his hood on his head, as he had not long been out of the steamy bath and his hair was still damp. We are both carrying a micro-fiber blanket. I'd been through this before a few months ago with hubby. It's always cold in those E.R. rooms. Too bad I didn't pack a snack. I always end up figuring out that I'm hungry shortly after we arrive. I check in. Red starts exploring the place. "This is pretty cool. It's new isn't it? I've never been here before," his curiosity like that of a young boy.
I notice he isn't coughing nearly as much. Before we left home the coughing fits were so fierce I thought he would never be able to sleep. I would therefore never be able to sleep with him in that condition. Now these nurses and doctors are probably going to think I'm a nutty, neurotic mother. Perhaps that's a good assessment...but whatever...we're here.
We go into triage within minutes. They ask questions directly to him because he looks like he's an adult, with his hairy, needs-to-be-shaved face. I want him to be able to answer these medical questions just in case this ever happens in the future and I'm not around. There are awkward pauses and hesitations, like he is trying to process what the hell they are saying. Some of them quite simple, obvious questions, at least to me. It's all I can do not to step in and be his voice, He almost gets through the list of medications he is taking, only forgetting about one. He turns to me and says, "Am I going to have to take these medicines for the rest of my life, because I can't remember all of this?" "Hopefully, you won't. But you can always keep a list of your medications in your wallet."
His temperature is normal. I ask about his oxygen level, which I guess is fine. They don't offer any additional incite or information. Lovely.
These days Red is constantly thinking about adulthood and the responsibilities, that will soon belong to him. It's kind of a good thing...but it's also becoming a source of anxiety.
They take us through towards the back of the E.R. to a room. "I'm sorry, but this is the only room available. It's our rowdy room." What the hell is a rowdy room? It's sparse...drab, nothing on the walls, no medical machines...nada...just a chair and a bed. I assume this is where they take the drunk, belligerent people who come in during the wee hours of the night after a bar fight. I think to myself, okay ...we told them the medications he's on. Do they think he's going to go ballistic? Or is the room for black people? We are often the only "colored" people in the room in our community. But seriously...what the hell?
As we are waiting for the doc...I take a look around. The nurse says, "May I help you mam?" "Seriously...is the only room you have available?" "Right now...yes." Wow! Whatever... Red is looking at the gown like it's a foreign object. "What am I supposed to do with this?" He tries to put it on and then lays back and starts talking incessantly about some video series on YouTube by an angry Ginger who is bullied and harassed. Why he is watching these videos over and over again...I have no idea. Do I care to hear anything about it? Absolutely not.
The doctor comes in with no chart...nada. "I'm doctor whoever...and what's going on here tonight?" I wonder if he even knows all of the information we just gave triage. He asks a few questions and examines Red briefly, checking the ears and throat, listening briefly to his chest...I think he listened to his chest. It was all so fast...it's just a blur. He's walking towards the door when he says, "Well it's probably just a virus, but we will do a chest x-ray to make sure it isn't pneumonia." "How does his throat look?" I ask...I'm sure with all of the coughing it has to be kind of raw. "It looks normal."
This guy is definitely no Mc Dreamy, Mc Steamy or anything else. In fact he's kind of a douche. He gave off this vibe like he didn't really want to be in the room. Seriously, why are you standing at the doorway talking to us?
The tech comes with a wheel chair to take him to x-ray. Again Red looks like, what the hell? He says, "That's o.k. I can walk." The tech explains it's their policy that they have to transport patients this way.
Later the doctor returns to say, "Well I see a spot that looks a little suspicious on his lungs. It could be pneumonia, so we're going to go ahead and treat it with antibiotics." I tell him, Red has had breathing treatments before when he was coughing like this, but it's been so long, that I didn't have any current medicine for the nebulizer. "Oh...well we can give him a breathing treatment if you want." If I want? Like, what if I don't want? How do I know what he needs? You're the doctor! What the hell? Let's give him the works! Like we're ordering a pizza!?
They finally move us to a decent room because the tech can't give us a breathing treatment in this room that has no hookups. Just wow! She asks him if he feels better afterwards? He says, "Not really. I'm still coughing." She explains that the nebulizer medicine doesn't actually take away the cough, but it should open up his lungs and help him breathe better. He looks at her kind of like...whatever.
The nurse comes in and gives us discharge instructions. The discharge papers say that it is bronchitis. So why did the doctor say pneumonia? He gave us a few prescriptions. I ask her if they can give him the first dosage of the medicine for the cough so I don't have to go to the pharmacy at what is now 1 a.m. "Well the doctor didn't order that." And so....ask him to order it! Isn't this an f-ing hospital? Do they not have medicine here? Nope...she directs me to the 24-hour Walgreens...as if I don't already f-ing know where it is! I'm sorry people...at this point I am exhausted.
We go drop the prescriptions...it will take 20 minutes to fill them. We drive across the street to Wendy's to take up the time and of course, because I am starving! Why is it I'm always starving when I have to wait around an emergency room for hours?
My favorite quote of the night was when Red said, "This is really bad. I'd rather go to school than be this sick."
We make it home somewhere around 2 a.m. I check in with my "Confessions" facebook community . So many had reached out to us, with suggestions, prayers and well wishes. Some of them were waiting up to see what happened until we got home. I was just amazed by the outpouring of love.
Dr. McHottie Red's real Pediatrician
Today we go to see Red's Pediatrician as a follow up to make sure this lame doctor assessed him correctly. Dr. B could teach that E.R. doctor a thing or two about bedside manner.
I'm sure he would just love to know he has been objectified in this manner.