Bring Your Camera when You Take a Child to the Emergency Room
An emergency room visit can be a terrifying event in a child's life.
When my son was about eight, he came home complaining of pain in his groin after a visit to my mother's house. My brother and his family had also been there, and the children had been watching television in another room. I had heard the shout of pain from Jason, and on investigating he said his cousin had kicked him. My nephew said it was an accident. I didn't see any obvious damage at the time, so I just gave mom comfort and went back to the adults. I expected that by the next morning all would be well.
The next morning Jason was limping and I began to be concerned that maybe there was something wrong that wasn't obvious. I did know Jason had a low pain threshold, but I did want to make sure there was nothing wrong that should be treated. His doctor said to take him to the emergency room to have him checked out. Jason was pretty apprehensive, as most children are when brought into official contact with medical personnel -- especially in an ER setting. Jason had never been to the ER before. When we got there, I noticed I had a camera in my purse, and I decided to see if using it could help distract Jason from his fears. I told him I would be taking his picture every step of the way and that at the end I would show everyone how brave he had been. And that's what I did.
Have you ever taken a sick or hurt child to the emergency room ?
If so, what was he or she afraid of what might happen? Jason was normally healthy and happy, but not when he was hurt, or thought he was. If he thought a doctor visit might include a shot or other unpleasant procedure, he was definitely apprehensive. How about your children?
Has your child been apprehensive before medical appointments or emergency room visits?
The Wheel Chair-- Standard Emergency Room Equipment for Leg Problems
When we got to the emergency room and checked in, one of the first things they did was put Jason in a wheel chair, since the problem involved his leg or groin area. That surprised me, but in spite of the way he's holding his head in this picture, he actually enjoyed wheeling himself around when he got the hang of it. He was not in a lot of pain, especially if he wasn't walking. He's probably holding his head because he's not sure exactly where they will take him in that wheel chair and what will happen when he gets there. But he knows I will be taking his picture, so he will try to act more bravely than he feels.
Getting an X ray at the emergency room - X ray equipment can be intimidating if you've never seen it.
In fact, it might be downright frightening. It's huge and it hangs right on top of you. What it it falls? What does it do to you?
I assured Jason that an X ray doesn't hurt -- that it's just a very large and very fancy camera. All it does is take a picture of what's under his skin where his pain is so the doctor can see what might be wrong. That took away his fear of that procedure.
A Special Thank You to Beth Day
Since I took the pictures for this article over twenty years ago, my memory was pretty fuzzy as to the order these next pictures should be in. I was able to call on Beth, who has become my friend on Squidoo, and who is a nurse, for help. I sent her the pictures with what I thought was the right order. She looked at them and explained the ones I didn't understand. I would have asked more questions and taken notes if I'd known then I'd be writing about this in twenty years.
Thanks, again, Beth.
The next procedure was not so easy, camera or no camera - It involved getting poked with a needle for blood tests.Click thumbnail to view full-size
A note in reply to some of your comments
A few people have expressed surprise that I was able to take a camera into the ER. I don't remember asking anyone if it was OK, since I was only photographing my son. I believe the lady who drew the blood gave permission to be included when I explained why I was doing it. If someone had tried to stop me, I would have stopped. That day I just had a small camera in my purse quite by accident and decided to use it. Most medical personnel are probably too busy to care what you are doing with your child as long as it helps, not hurts. Had I been walking up and down trying to take pictures of nurses treating patients I didn't know, or just walking into rooms to try to photograph such patients, that would have been a privacy violation and probably against the rules. I'm guessing most hospitals haven't thought of making a rule about this yet. I wouldn't be inclined to ask permission from the person in admitting, just because if they didn't have a policy yet, it might inspire them to make one. I'm sure if you unknowingly violate a hospital rule, someone will let you know. I didn't see any signs about not using a camera in the building, such as the ones I saw about no smoking and other such rules. So I didn't feel I was doing something wrong in taking my own child's picture. If someone else is involved, such as someone performing a procedure, I'd let them know what I wanted to do and why and see if they are willing to be part of it.
This was in the days before the Internet, and cameras and cell phones with cameras weren't everywhere yet. I do see signs in medical offices and hospitals about cell phones in certain areas, but I think that's because they might interfere with heart monitors and other electronic equipment.
The Results of our Trip to the Emergency Room
No major problems were found and for another six years Jason led a normal, happy, active life, swimming, biking, and spending time with family and friends. We enjoyed home schooling, camping trips, and traveling to many places in the United States. My camera went everywhere with us, just in case something unusual might happen, and also to chronicle everything we enjoyed seeing and doing.
But neither I nor my camera were present in 1991 when Jason had a fatal accident on his first jet ski ride. This time there was no ER visit. He collided with a motorboat on his way to the shore. By the time help arrived, he was almost gone. His leg had been cut by the boat's propeller, and he bled to death before the paramedics even arrived. He was conscious only long enough to call for help.
I often wonder if a premonition of how he would die might have been behind his fear at the sight of his own blood -- even when there was no pain. I'm told Jason's death was quick and that he probably did not feel the pain because he was in shock. He died in the arms of our pastor, who had invited him to attend the outing at the lake that day. We are thankful for the years Jason was with us and brightened our lives, and we will always miss him. His one great unfulfilled desire was to ride a jet ski. I wonder if he would have gotten on had he known it would take him to Heaven.
The picture here was taken on the day of my aunt's funeral. I had taken my mom to Long Beach, and before the service, I had my mom take this picture. For years this wreath, made by a dear friend in Jason's memory to adorn his casket, had been hanging on our wall. It was beginning to look pretty grungy after 12 years, and it wasn't washable, so I decided to retire it where Jason was buried. It seemed fitting.
Please leave any comments here. Feel free to share ways you have dealt with your children's fears of medical procedures