But last night, it was definitely a struggle.
My youngest was picked up from the "line" after school by her older brother. B has never walked a day in his life. When he started "walking", his big brother knocked him down after flying around a blind corner. He didn't walk again for another four months. And I guess that is also what laid the foundation for B's definition of "walking". He runs everywhere. Always in a rush. I am constantly reminding him to slow the heck down.
Well, Wednesday afternoon, the "baby" tried to follow his lead. She was running up the steps to keep with him...and suddenly I have 3 phone calls from our lower campus telling me to come down right away. She has a major gash on her nose.
I walk into the office, knowing that O is probably more scared by the reactions of the well intentioned women around her, than what actually happened. And the tears resume as soon as I walk in. Her big sister (who loves blood and wounds) is terrified that her sister is hurt. And now I have my hands full. All the well intentioned ladies offered their help - to drive, to keep the other three, etc. Nah, I can do it. I am after all a firewife!
Off to closest ER we go (remember, we live 2 counties away from school) - 4 kids in tow, one bleeding profusely from the schnoz. Well, the bridge of her nose. After waiting for a bit (an hour), knowing that the homemade ice pack in the purple latex glove and wad o' tissues was not going to be enough to stop the bleeding, I ask the ladies at registration to see about getting me some gauze. A wonderfully sweet woman bought sodas for my crew. The kindness of strangers was sooo heartwarming. After a couple of hours I called my FF and asked him to come down. I tap into my teacher friends and one comes and picks up the three stooges for me, feeding them dinner. She has 2 at home and another on the way. Again, I am truly blessed and thankful. She made my ordeal survivable. My FF drove done to help, in case she needed to be held down. Her brother at 18 months needs the 2 of us and a HUGE CNA, so I put nothing past the teeny muppets. They are stronger than they look.
After 3 1/2 hours or so, we get into a room, but with only an exam chair - think dentist's office chair. And I think it was because we did not "fit in" with their regular clientele and ironically, they took pity on us. There were a lot of cases of flu and winter illnesses in the waiting room. A sad commentary on the state of medical care for the poorest among us. The MD came in, said hopefully we can glue her up...we assured him we were well versed in DermaBond...especially with O.
After another 30 minutes we get into a room with a bed...and a TV. Polar Express took over where Angry Birds fell short a couple of hours earlier.
45 minutes later, they come in, had Daddy hold the Lidociane to her beak for 15 minutes, clean her up.
And we wait again. Finally, our amazing, over worked doc comes in and stitches up my baby girl. The most restraint it took with O was asking her to put her arms at her side. She sat and watched as her doc stitched her up. I was amazed, but not sure why. She has always been a tough cookie. Some say that micro-preemies have a higher pain threshold then the general population. Maybe it is simply a survival piece, she is the youngest of four. None-the-less, she continues to charm and amaze all she meets.
In the aftermath, after waiting impatiently for nearly FIVE HOURS for three stitches I realized some things. I realized that I could have made it home (45-60 minutes depending on traffic) and to the ER in our neighborhood and still been home 2 hours sooner. I realized how much I take for granted with where we live and the insurance we have. I realized that we have a long way to go until we are truly meeting the needs of those who need it the most. I realized that perhaps the Church needs to help those who feel the calling to be healers to see they might need to help those who need it the most through free clinics - donating their services. The ERs in poorest neighborhoods often become walk-in clinics because they cannot be turned away. So, fevers and colds and the flu and ...the list goes on, are treated in ERs around the country, when all they truly need is accessible health care. Going to ERs for non-emergency needs cause a backlog and inflated costs of healthcare. It will also take a culture shift. In my years as an educator in the inner-city. Kids wore their ER bands as badges of honor. Our families used the hospitals for fear of being turned away at the doctor's office. So, as I step off my soap box, knowing it is neither the time nor the place for the discussion at hand, I ask you to think about it. We need to make come changes on so many levels, in our thoughts and in our actions - both singularly and as a community.
So, here is my challenge. Do something this weekend and this holiday season that makes a difference in the lives of those less fortunate. Even if it is simply smiling and saying good morning, you can make a difference. Too frequently we forget that the poor, the homeless, the mentally ill, the less fortunate - whatever - we forget that they are indeed human, too. With all the same needs and emotions. With dreams and stories and a history. Sometimes it is a simple as remembering that those less fortunate than us need and deserve to be treated with the same respect we request.
Just something to chew on as we enter the holidays of the coming week.
In case I do not have a chance to pop back on here, please enjoy your families and the holiday season. If your FF is working, do not despair. Instead, drop off some treats, help at shelter, enjoy a Christmas Eve mass, love your family, catch a movie, read a book, ring a bell for the Salvation Army...whatever works for you.
Remember the holiday is the time spent with those you love, the date on the calendar is for Hallmark and Target. Make some memories and don't get hung up on the date. Spread the love and joy that is the Christmas season.
Hug your FFs, love your muppets, enjoy the time with your family and friends. Merry Christmas to you and yours. And may your firefighters come home safe to you after their holiday shifts.