19 July 2012

The Dark Night Rises (or, In Case of Emergency)

Spoiler alert: This post is not about Batman or Bane or Catwoman or Christopher Nolan’s elaborate, liberal conspiracy to turn the electorate against Mitt Romney through subliminal messaging in a pop culture medium (the man himself is perfectly capable all on his own).

But I’ve gotta try to get eyeballs somehow, right?

Sidenote: We’ve been watching a lot of Rocky and Bullwinkle with the Doozer lately, hence the double title. I’m currently obsessed with this device where they tease the next segment of the serialized story with two alternate (and often pun-filled) titles. Just from a writing standpoint it’s impressive, there are three in an episode and each season is like 40 episodes and I’m terrible at math, so I’m not going to try and figure out that number, but it seems to me it’s pretty large.

The second half of the title is perhaps the more accurate and apt message as I encountered a rite of passage in parenthood that I had previously not even fathomed: I had to take the Doozer to the emergency room in the middle of the night. On a Saturday. He’s fine now (was then, even, after antibiotics and ear drops), so it’s not a terribly dark or sad story. Of course, I’m still upset about all the sleep I lost, but I suppose that’s a separate issue.

He’d gone to bed as normal. But a few hours later, he was crying out. At first, we thought it was a nightmare. But the wife went in to comfort him and discovered him writhing around in pain, complaining about a pain in his ear. It’s important to note here that the kid never complains about anything, any kind of pain or ailment. When he had an ear infection a few months ago, he never even mentioned it. When the doctor finally checked out his ear, she was amazed he hadn’t complained about it more—it looked that bad in there.

So obviously this was a red flag. We gave him Children’s Tylenol (drugging kids is the best, isn’t it?) and encouraged him to try and go back to sleep. But every time he laid down for any length of time, he was squirming and crying again. We mentioned the hospital and he very calmly hopped out of bed and headed for the stairs as though this was a common occurrence. His nonchalant behavior made us question the severity of the situation. But in the end, we could not deny that he was uncomfortable and not going back to sleep.

So we went to the hospital. And the adventure began.

And yes, I mean adventure. Because that’s how he treated it. The hospital was approximately a 3-minute drive from the house, but along the way, the Doozer marveled at all the lights everywhere (porch lights, etc.). Being out this late at night was a novelty and he was savoring it.

We got to the hospital and checked in. The Doozer’s eyes were wide, taking it all in. We were sent to a small waiting room where Judge Judy was playing on a giant flatscreen on the wall. The Doozer was mesmerized. I’m assuming just by the TV, as the pathetic “case” of the episode—and the inbred yokels engaged in the legal shenanigans—couldn’t hold anybody’s interest.

I kept asking how he was doing. He was acting fine, more than fine. Active, alert, interested. Intrigued. Excited almost. Which started to bother me. Because I could be home sleeping.

At the same time, it’s hard not to find the whole thing nerve-wracking. Even if your kid is acting normal, not bleeding profusely or unconscious or anything, visiting the hospital is serious. He could be really sick. You don’t know. There’s no roadmap for this thing. The tiniest ailment could become the biggest calamity. You just don’t know. And if you’re not paranoid as a parent, then I don’t think you’re paying attention.

Also, there’s germs everywhere, right? Now, I’m not the biggest germaphobe, but it is a hospital. With disease everywhere. And I’ve now brought a child into this pestilence-filled den of seething decay. Everywhere he sits, everything he touches, I just keep thinking he’s going to leave this place in worse shape than when he arrived.

Although, there was not a lot of obvious germ-spewing going on around us. It was surprisingly quiet. One would think Saturday at midnight (“Saturday midnight . . . memories of this night are extremely hazy”) would be primetime for an ER freak show. But it wasn’t. No escaped lunatics, drunken morons, or shooting victims anywhere to be seen.

Though I am pretty sure there was a prostitute in an adjacent room.

The next few hours passed in a sleep-deprived blur and a running dialogue that consisted of “What’s that?” repeated ad nauseum by the Doozer, followed by my response of “Don’t touch that.” Eventually, he said, “I want to go home now.” Oh, really, I thought. Well, it’s a little late for that, pal. This is your doing.

Wait, I almost forgot. The popsicle. Sometime around 2, 2:30 in the morning, after the Doozer and I had spent an inordinate amount of time waiting around an exam room (not to mention fielding dozens of questions from him on the eye maladies depicted on a graphic poster on the wall), a nurse or doctor (maybe nurse, I’m sorry, I was very tired) brings in an orange popsicle and shows it to him, then, then, almost as an afterthought, turns to me and asks if it’s okay.

Thanks. Thanks for that.

It was a double popsicle and so we split it. Part of his fell on the floor and I had to spend the next several minutes talking him down off the ledge. Because we don’t eat anything off the floor. Especially the floor of a hospital exam room. A little while later, he turned to me.

“I didn’t know they had popsicles at the hospital.”

Yeah, yeah. Neither did I. And I can see the wheels spinning in his head, I can see the excitement in his eyes. Hospital = popsicles. This place is awesome! When can we go back?

And sure enough, the next day at dinner, he begins to reminisce about the grand adventure.

“Dada, remember when we went to the hospital that time?”


“That was fun.”

Right. And I can’t wait until we get to go back. Good times.

No comments:

Post a Comment