We hadn’t visited the hospital since August last year, and that time we left with a brand new baby. Yesterday, we were there for a less joyous reason.
I was making Avery lunch when I heard the smash from behind me. She had broken one of the cat’s ceramic dishes. Before I could get over to her to pick up the pieces, I saw her hand go to her mouth and pop something in. Shards. Shards of broken ceramic. I immediately fished them out with my finger, but then she started coughing and I feared she had swallowed one. I couldn’t be sure if any were missing because the break was messy and in many small pieces. I called telehealth and they told me to take her to the ER for x rays.
It’s amazing how your day can turn from good to bad so quickly… We had a fun morning, she was about to sit down to lunch, and then BAM, mommy’s in a panic and rushing off to the hospital.
My wife works across the street from the hospital, so she met us there. Avery was in really good spirits (and stayed that way for the whole time… what a trooper), but I was eager to figure out just how serious this was. My worst fear was that she would perforate her gut on a shard.
When we saw the first nurse, she told us a story about how her own infant daughter had swallowed the tine of a plastic fork. She said she rushed to her doctor in a panic and her doctor laughed at her – “this happens all the time,” he said, “kids swallow things and they pass things.” This nurse’s story reassured my wife and I A LOT. But we were still referred on to a doctor who would order x rays, just in case.
Eventually my wife went back to work for a while because the wait was dragging on. We waited 3 hours to see a doctor, and another half hour to get in for the x ray. My wife had made it back by then because the work day was over, and she went into the x ray room with Avery while I waited outside. OMG the crying… I had to leave the waiting area and walk up the hall because the sound of her wailing on the other side of that door was too much for me. The x ray itself was quick and painless, but she was scared. She was strapped into a high chair type of apparatus, and my wife had to hold her arms straight up in the air. She resisted, and my wife had to pull up harder, which scared her. When it was finally over I held her as she worked out the rest of her sobs on my shoulder.
The doctor saw us shortly after to go over the results of the x ray. They had done an upper chest x ray to look in the lungs for any obstruction or foreign object. Apparently if she had swallowed it it would have passed on its own. But if she had inhaled one, it could cause major problems in her lung. Nothing showed up on the x ray. But then he said, “of course ceramic wouldn’t show up on an x ray anyway, so just watch for signs of infection.” Umm, why the hell would you put us through all of this if you knew ceramic wouldn’t show up on an x ray?? Hospital procedure, that’s why. A kid comes in having possibly aspirated something, they have to x ray. He told us a story of a kid who had chronic asthma, and after a chest x ray they found a tiny plastic brontosaurus in his lung that the parents hadn’t seen in years. They have precedent, and have to check to be safe.
Anyway, Avery made it through her first ER experience unscathed, and we are 99.9% sure everything is fine. We couldn’t have asked for better circumstances behind our first ER visit, that’s for sure. She was happy and feeling good, the risk of her being not OK was low, the procedure was quick and painless… Let’s hope it’s a long, long time before we have to step foot in a hospital again.