Emergency…or not

I work in the Emergency Room, I spent four years training in one of the busiest ERs in the country, one that use to be known as the “Knife and Gun Club”. I see and take care of and treat emergencies on a daily basis at work. I really enjoy emergencies, I don’t think I’m what some call an “adrenaline junkie”, I just like seeing problems and fixing them and then moving on to the next problem. The nurses I work with have often commented on how calm I stay and project while dealing with a large trauma or really sick person.

Sometimes I see and treat real emergencies, like someone getting their legs cut off by a train, and sometimes I see things that are not real emergencies, such as someone whose legs have hurt for the last 5 years and today they feel no different but for some reason they decided at 4AM they should go and get them checked out at the ER, “just because”. And the truth is, I never know which one of those is going to walk into the door next.

With two boys, and one on his way home from Korea sometime, I have a feeling we will have our fair visit to the Emergency room. I will try and be discerning between those that are real emergencies and those that are not.

Last year over Labor Day weekend we had our first “real” emergency. Leighton is my oldest and very much on the reserved side. Clint was teaching that day and so I loaded both boys up (Caedmon was 5 months at the time) and we headed to the neighborhood park. Leighton typically hung back by my side, but one of the girls from down the block was there so he decided to follow her. I was so proud of him, he started climbing and running all over the playground like little boys should. He started to climb up a set of bars which he had never done before and I stood nearby cheering him on. He got to the top (close to 10 feet up), and was about to step onto the platform when he looked down at me. I encouraged him and told him what a good job he was doing, he smiled and then promptly let go. He landed directly onto his left foot. I was by his side in an instant and he seemed ok, but there were lots of tears and sobs. Not only is he my reserved one, but also my drama queen. I got him settled down and then got him up to get him back to the stroller. He wouldn’t put any weight on the left foot. I wasn’t sure if it was true injury or just drama. So I carried him and gave him some goldfish crackers (clearly the fixer of all bad things for little boys) and headed home. Long story short, we ended up in the ER with a broken left foot and Leighton started his first day of preschool in a cast crawling for the following 6 weeks.

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And then take today. Leighton was helping me pick the ripe produce from the garden. He wanted to pick up ripe cantaloupe, and somehow in the process got a small microscopic splinter from the vine in his small finger. Honestly I’m pretty sure our neighbors believed that we were cutting his legs off with a rusty finger nail file by the way he screamed. (did I mention he’s a bit of a drama queen)? It took a lot of wrestling, holding down, talking to, encouraging and a host of other things to finally get the microscopic splinter out. He was so injured (at least in his mind) that he couldn’t use that hand the rest of the afternoon.

As I held and comforted him (and tried not to laugh), I was reminded that just like my patients perspective is key. While what seems like an obvious emergency often times is, what may seem like a small trivial thing to everyone else, sometimes is a big deal and we all need reassurance and encouragement and maybe just that extra smile.

Also it’s a good thing that God doesn’t rank or prioritize our “emergencies”. The only true emergency is going through this life without Him as our Lord, everything else is kind of secondary. And I think He knows that, and so even when we act a little over dramatic about something in His infinite love and grace, He picks us up and comforts us even if it was just a little splinter.

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