Sunday, 13 March 2011

Stitched up

Littleboy 1 had his first ever visit to the Emergency Room the other night. Really, it's amazing that he's managed to get through five years without one, considering how much of a daredevil he is, but somehow we've avoided it (or perhaps been negligent parents?). We did have one trip with Littleboy 2 in London; a rather surreal occasion when he got a hair twisted around his toe as a baby and it started cutting off his blood supply (don't ask). But, really, for the parents of two small and lively boys, we've been pretty lucky.

Anyway, looking at the deep gash in his forehead on Thursday evening - the result of running headfirst into the sharp corner of a wooden cabinet - it was fairly obvious that he would need stitches. The Doctor took him off, while I stayed home with Littleboy 2, and a couple of hours later he related his first experience of an American ER - because although he works in the hospital next door, he's never actually set foot in there.

The verdict? Very much like an NHS Casualty, he reports. No beds, so patients sitting on trolleys in the middle of the ER - he and Littleboy 1 were at one point right next to the reception desk, where they were apparently privy to all kinds of confidential patient information.

There were many, many forms to fill in and also a fair amount of incompetence; although the Doctor had said he was happy for an ER physician to do the stitching (rather than a plastic surgeon), the plastics doc turned up anyway, and apparently at one point there was a near-fight between the attendings over who was going to deal with Littleboy 1's case. They ended up going with the plastics doc (mainly because he'd already started); now we wait with bated breath to see whether we will receive an enormous bill, as we aren't clear whether our insurance will pay for all of his services. And of course, we've been given countless instructions about follow-ups with the doctor - to make sure it's all healing properly and of course rack up some more bills.......

Anyway, Littleboy 1 took it all in his stride and was pretty stoic; he even did not appear to mind that he couldn't take part in gym, swimming or basketball the next day. I think secretly he was quite excited by the whole thing, once he'd got over the initial shock, and enjoyed showing off his war wound to his teachers the next day.

Just as well, really: because, although I hope we won't be back in the ER any time soon, in all probability it won't be our last visit there....

20 comments:

PantsWithNames said...

Brave LB1. We've not ventured into the ER yet (had a few health centre checks though), but think it is only a matter of time. Good to hear US hospitals just like the Brit ones.

Tanya (Bump2Basics) said...

Wishing LB1's war wound speedy healing, brave daredevil that he is! Not a bad thing that the plastic surgeon won the stiches battle in the end, I once had my leg stitched up by an attending in the ER after shattering a glass on my leg and have a nice 1.5 inch scar as it really wasn't done correctly!

Almost American said...

Oh do let us know how horrendous the bills are!

Head wounds do bleed enormously, don't they?!

DD had a similar trip to the ER at about the same age - needed 11 stitches and 5 adults to hold her down (even tho' she was already strapped down in a papoose!) so the doctor could do the stitching! He would have used superglue but she wouldn't hold still enough! No plastic surgeon, but the scar ended up being minimal anyway - we did what the doc suggested and put vitamin E on it. We went back to our pediatrician for the stitches to be taken out.

My New Normal said...

Having spent time in the ER in both countries I agree that they are remarkably similar. Except in the UK you don't have to stress about the bill afterwards.

angelsandurchinsblog said...

Hope the bill isn't even more traumatic than the ER experience. Something that should definitely be delivered in person by George Clooney.

Expat mum said...

One summer about 4 years ago I spent so much time in the ER tht the receptionist knew my name. The worst part was always waiting for the paperwork to be completed so we could leave. Honestly, even if we got in and out quickly as far as the treatment was concerned, the discharge procedure was tedious. And yes, the bills!

Iota said...

Oh, poor you.

I find medical offices here, and dentists' offices, very lacking in a sense of privacy. You only ever seem to be a thin curtain or partition away from the next patient.

mum in meltdown said...

Wishing LB1 a speedy recovery. Glad to hear your ER similar to NHS, as we always think we get a rough deal here but a least we don't need to panic about a huge bill afterwards!

Nota Bene said...

Will he have a Harry Potter scar? THat would be a triumph!! Hope he is all fine now...

Home Office Mum said...

Kids make the NHS a dream come true. You don't need the hassle of forms and huge bills when you're dealing with the stress of a gashed open head. Hope his head (and your insurance) recover fully

Paradise Lost In Translation said...

My daughter has a 1 inch scar on her cheek. HAppened at christmas, a glass light fitting fell on her & slashed her cheek. (It was a dodgy & v badly designed glass cover for a light fitting) Hospitals here are pretty gruesome, u shd avoid them at all costs. We went to the international clinic where an American GP sewed her up. It is perfectly serviceable but not great. A bit ridgy & v bumpy underneath. Am v upset abt it. My hubby suggts she cd have it done agn once back in the UK, but it seems a bit mean to inflict that on our 6 y-o all o ve ragn. I dont know what to do really. I kno wit's sexist, but I do think it matters more as a girl. It's not q such a badge of honour, & roughtie-toughtie macho is not the image she's wanting to go for really!

Elsie Button said...

glad he is ok and not too bothered about his wound...

Lynn said...

I think this one area that you can't generalize about "how this is in America" because of the huge differences in quality of care in different areas and states. My dentists and doctors in Maine have separate exam rooms for patients, and hospitals all have single rooms, to take up Iota's example. We also have a lot of quick care centers that would do a minor stitch-up so you wouldn't have to go to an emergency dept for something like this.

Metropolitan Mum said...

Eeeek, I hate ERs and stitched. I really hope little L won't do that to me. Or for her dad to be around if she does :)
PS: I might have followed that truck for a little while...

nappy valley girl said...

Pants - you've obviously been lucky like us then! Let's hope no is not the accident-prone one...

Tanya - sounds nasty! And yes, in the end the plastics guy was probably the best choice.

AA - LB1 had to be strapped down too, apparently. I think that was his least favourite part....

MyNewNormal - yes, I like that about the NHS.

Angels&urchins - I agree. Where was George when we needed him?

ExpatMum - the whole process takes so much longer here, I find - even for a routine doc's appointment.

Iota - our dentist isn't like that, but yes, most medical offices seem to be all about shouting stuff across the room....

Mum in Meltdown - I think we are too critical of the NHS sometimes - and it has come on leaps and bounds over the past 10 years, I think.

NB - I'm hoping the scar will be minimal..yes, he's fine, although a bit bored of not being alllowed to play in the playground at school (case of school being over-cautious, I think...)

HOM - yes, the paperwork is all very tedious. Definitely something to bear in mind if you are moving here....

PLIT - I agree, I think it does matter more for a girl. My husband has a big scar on his face, but no-one ever notices!

Elsie - thanks.

Lynn - you're right of course, it's always bad to generalise - about both countries. Maine sounds great!

Knackered Mother said...

Poor you, poor boy! Wishing you all well...we've done A&E with eldest and a broken arm a few years ago. His abiding memory is being able to watch lots of telly!

Mwa said...

I dread that day. We have been in with a few respiratory things, but they were never bloody.

nappy valley girl said...

Met Mum - let's hope she isn't accident prone then....

KM - Littleboy 1 was boasting of being able to watch TV backwards (when he was strapped to the bed...)

Mwa - I'm not too bad with blood - think I would be more scared by actual illness.....

Mud in the City said...

Phew. Glad he's OK.

My mother tells me about 2 consecutive visits I had to Casualty. The first for poking a hair grip down my ear and bursting my ear drum, the second for hitting myself in the eye with the handle of a skipping rope and gaining a black eye. Mum got hauled off for suspected child abuse but declared (in her best BBC English) - 'but I'm on the committee of the Winchester NSPCC!"

They let her off....

Calif Lorna said...

I'm way behind on my blog reading. Hope he's recovering well and you haven't received a nasty bill. We haven't done an ER trip yet - have done Casualty a few times though...