Lessons From The Emergency Room
I felt like a doctor in some TV show, shouting, “Rapid breathing and abdominal pain,” while carrying my 4-year-old daughter into the ER. She would only let me hold her horizontal, like carrying a bride over the threshold, because her tummy hurt too much. She was pale and slightly warm and I was terrified, although you wouldn’t know it as my “calm mom” persona kicked in, telling the nurse in the triage area that Annabella had a normal, run of the mill cold with a cough that morphed into weird quickened breathing and abdominal pain.
The nurse took her vitals…Bella’s heart rate was racing and they would get her in immediately to see the doctor. Suddenly Bella threw up all over me, mostly water and mucus. It was just past 6am and she hadn’t eaten since dinner 12 hours ago. I felt my Inner Mean Girl creeping up slowly running all the worst case scenarios. I felt a chill go up my spine and took a deep breath searching frantically for some sort of connection to my Inner Wisdom. Then I heard and felt the words, “Annabella is going to be just fine.” I prayed my Inner Wisdom was right.
We entered into the examination room and the nurse got more information from us as he started hooking Bella up to machines. How long had she been struggling to breathe? When did the stomach pain start? Did she have a history of asthma? We answered the best we could, with Bella’s sweet little face looking up at us. The doctor came in and felt Bella’s abdomen. It was slightly tender to the touch, especially on the right hand side. Memories flashed back to when I was 10 years old and had an emergency appendectomy. I shuddered at the thought. Would today be the day that I whisk my daughter into an operating room? Ugh.
The doctor announced that she felt that Bella’s stomach was hurting because she was struggling to breathe. She ordered breathing treatments and a chest x-ray, as she felt that Bella could have pneumonia or bronchitis. Bella began her first breathing treatment, her little face covered in an oxygen mask that had holes in it with what looked like smoke coming out. The nurse said, “You get to look like a dragon!”
Then the TV was wheeled into the room with a 1990’s style VCR and lots of VHS tapes to choose from. Bella perked up when we said she could watch however many movies she wanted while the treatments went on. She chose “Aladdin” and settled in for hours of movies. The chest x-ray came back clean and after three breathing treatments, she stopped complaining about her tummy. The doctor’s instinct seemed correct. Phew! No appendix removal.
It was about six hours total of breathing treatments and monitoring before we could bring Bella home, with an inhaler and some medication. It was not the way I had wanted to spend my Saturday…or any day for that matter. But it wasn’t over yet…oh no.
My goodness, will this day ever end? The phone rang just a bit past 8pm, it was the doctor from the Emergency Room. I thought she might be calling to check up on Bella (how sweet!). I was wrong. She started explaining that Bella’s urinalysis hadn’t come back before we left the hospital and it was showing high glucose levels, which could indicate diabetes. What?! She insisted that we come back into the ER immediately to get a blood test.
We got back in the car and headed back to the ER. Bella was all amped up after the breathing treatments (a side effect of the steroids) and was thrilled thinking she might get to watch more movies. Unfortunately, there was just a needle waiting for her. She actually did pretty well when they took blood from her. She cried, of course, but thought it was cool to see the blood coming out of her body. They got the initial results back about 10 minutes later and all was well. They chalked the results up to a lab error. WTF? We thanked our lucky stars and headed home.
My lessons from this experience are vast. Let me begin with what I’m grateful for. I’m grateful first and foremost that Annabella is OK, of course. She is still using an inhaler and on some pretty significant medications to help her bronchial tubes swelling, but she is back at pre-school today playing. Thank goodness. I’m grateful for all the incredible nurses and doctors that cared so lovingly for her. I’m grateful that my husband and I could be there, together, with her and stay by her side the entire time. And I’m grateful that I live in a country where I know exactly where to take my daughter when she is struggling to breathe. However messed up our heath care system is (I can’t even imagine the bill we’ll receive!), the bottom line is we have a place to go. I think about all the moms, dad, and caregivers around the world that wake up at dawn with a child that is sick and have no place to go. (This is one of the reasons I’m so committed, alongside my partner at Inner Mean Girl Reform School, Christine Arylo, to donate 10 percent of all our profits to women- and children-based charitable organizations.)
I also learned so much about myself and the dark place my Inner Mean Girl can take me. I’ve committed myself to personal growth for the past 15 years and feel so blessed to lead, write and create transformational experiences to help others do the same. And I gotta say, my Inner Mean Girl and her Big Fat Lies STILL come up…especially in times of crisis, transition and monumental growth.
And I’m grateful that I have tools to deal with my Inner Mean Girl when she rears her ugly head. One of the foundational Big Fat Lies I encountered this past weekend was something like “What makes you so special? Why do you get to have a great and healthy daughter, an amazing, loving husband and a career you love? Your number is up. It’s your time to suffer.” Ouch.
In those moments of darkness, I know how to reach and find my center again. I ask my Inner Wisdom what she knows. I find a way into my intuition and compassion and I can breathe again. But those Inner Wisdom muscles need to be exercised all the time, otherwise they are not available in the moments of crisis. They just aren’t strong enough, which is why I do my daily practice as often as possible and why I’m taking my Inner Mean Girl back to Reform School this summer.
You may have seen all the emails and Facebook posts and tweets about our Inner Mean Girl Reform School summer session. If you feel like you could use some sisterhood and support, you’re ready to exercise those Inner Wisdom muscles so you can find your truth in the midst of all the fear and chaos out there, then please join us. I’d be so honored to have you join over 100 women from around the world who are gathering. It is why I do the work I do and I’m here to be of service to you in any way possible.
Filled with gratitude,
P.S. Come join me on this 10-week adventure so you can be the calm in the center of the storm. Go here for all the deets.
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