Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Maine Vignette No. 1

A Long Night

Tom and Anna's wedding is Friday morning at 10:30am, and Anna has asked Kathy to come over around 9. Emelia woke up crying Thursday evening at 11pm, saying "Poopy" over and over again. Her stomach hurts, and there's nothing we can do for her except comfort her. Kathy does this for a few hours, but as time passes the intensity of Emelia's cries increases, to the point that as the waves of pain hit her, she's screaming "Poopy Poopy Poopy!" and writhing on the bed next to Kathy, grabbing her crotch in extreme distress. We have no medication for stomach aches, no house phone, no signal for our cell phones, and no hospital or emergency clinic within 30 minutes of us. At 2am, Kathy says we have to do something, so we get dressed and go out to the car, in the wind and moderately fierce rain, and drive several minutes until we get a cell signal. I pull over and call my father, the retired pediatrician, seeking his advice. He says to go to the emergency room, because if she's constipated, they'll be able to help. We drive into the nearest real town, searching for a hospital, not at all sure where one might be located. We go past the pharmacy and grocery store, where we hoped to find some sort of medication to provide relief, but they're both closed. Meanwhile, Emelia seems to be doing ok, her cries have evaporated and we consider simply driving back. Dad calls and says that if she's constipated, the problem will return unless we get it removed. So we follow the blue signs with the "H" until, on the far side of town, we find a hospital.

I'm struck by the contrast of my trip to the emergency room, not even four weeks earlier -- the emptiness of the facility, and the immediate response to our arrival. An intake receptionist gets our insurance info. As soon as she's done that, a nurse gets Emelia's vital signs and asks for a description. She then escorts us to a room, and five minutes later, a doctor arrives and examines Emelia. He feels her stomach and declares that Emelia has a lot of gas, and orders X-rays to confirm his diagnosis. Within minutes we head to radiology, which shortly thereafter confirms the doctor's diagnosis that Emelia has a lot of gas. The doctor sends us home with suppositories. Emelia falls asleep on the drive back, and she doesn't awake when we get back to our cottage -- thus, she doesn't even get her medicine. It's 5am, and we climb back in bed, determined to get a couple of hours of sleep before the day begins.