Sick Kid

Disneyland was great, but exhausting. Am I becoming a one-note mom? I find everything about motherhood exhausting except for those magical awesome moments when you play with your child and she laughs and it’s just… it’s awesome. I once read a study that said the most grueling boring chores of life is childcare, but the most magical, transcendent moments in life are with your child… So as hard as it is, it’s also the most wonderful thing in the world.

And the scariest thing in the world is when you have a sick kid, like we did the morning we were leaving the Happiest Place on Earth. Suffice to say, we were covered in puke from 8AM until 4PM, when we got her in a proper hospital. I’m usually a pretty even-keeled mom, I don’t really panic too much and try not to over-react and be over-protective, I have two nephews, so I’ve kind of seen a lot with my sister’s kids and know not to panic. But when the kid started vomiting Exorcist-style and didn’t stop…well, PANIC BUTTON was pushed and we zoomed into the nearest ER.

We were in a not-so-nice part of town and when we first entered the hospital we were like, Omigod, where are we, Iraq??? It was really the dirtiest, most neglected and saddest hospital ER’s we’ve ever seen. Part of us wanted to zoom back to our regular hospital but the other part was really worried about the kid and figured, okay, so the hospital doesn’t look that great, but maybe it’s better if SOMEONE sees her now. The hospital was one of those “community” hospitals where they have to take people in even when they don’t have insurance.

We stayed there for a few hours while they took Mattie’s vital signs and gave her some medicine that would help the vomiting. But then they started saying they wanted to do blood work, x-rays and put a catheter on the kid… and Mike’s and my warning bells just started lighting up… by that point the kid hadn’t vomited in two hours, and we asked if it was okay if we took Mattie to our regular hospital if they were going to do all this work on her, we’d just feel more comfortable if they did it in our regular hospital..(also we did not want to end up in the news as another TRAGIC HOSPITAL story. you know? it looked like that kind of place.)

The nurses were all very nice and told us that was fine with them and we zoomed back to the comfy, hotel-like confines of our regular hospital, which is one of the nicest and most acclaimed hospitals in the world (Huntington Memorial in Pasadena – which looks like a Four Seasons hotel) and the experience was just 100% different. For starters, we saw the attending physician immediately, and Dr. Gregory had a really great bedside manner with the kid, and calmed us all down. (Whereas at the community hospital we never even got to see a doctor for HOURS. Actually we left without a doctor ever seeing us. It was all nurses.) And Dr. Gregory told us there was no need for bloodwork, x-ray or catheter because after talking to us and checking out the kid, he figured it was just a viral infection that went to her tummy and should clear up in a couple of days.

The medicine the community hospital gave Mattie also made her feel better, and the anti-nausea medicine from Huntington also helped, and she was soon running up and down the aisles demanding crackers. And she didn’t throw up at all anymore.

We were just so relieved that she didn’t have to have any of those invasive procedures…and we were also just so horrified at how unequal medical care is in this country. Mike and I pretty much live in this sheltered, comfy bubble, and my dad’s been in and out of Huntington with his surgeries and chemo and we have really really great care… he gets the best drugs and his doctors are so aggressive and great… and we almost take it for granted… it really sickened me how the level of care at the community hospital was so low and awful compared to what we got at the fancy, rich hospital.

It just shouldn’t be like that. This is America right??? There were tons of other really concerned and panicked parents at the community hospital and I just felt ill thinking of how that hospital has to treat their patients—who are CHILDREN. Blood work, x-rays and catheters on a 20 month old who doesn’t need it seems gross to me, when all the kid really needed was a real doctor to treat her symptoms and figure it out. you know???

When I was in school in Manila, our private school would make it a point to expose us to the lesser fortunate parts of the city—we had to visit the slums, the orphanages, and the metal wards—it was part of the school’s philosophy to make their privileged students aware of how privileged they were, and how that wasn’t the case for a lot of people in the world. Our experience at the community hospital was like that—-we saw what it was like for people who didn’t have insurance, and theoretically, we’ve always believed in universal healthcare anyway, but we’ve never really experienced what it would be like if WE ourselves did not have it. It’s scary, people, it’s really scary. I think what made us book out of there was when the crackhead in the next bed (i’m sorry: she really looked like a crackhead though) told us “this is the worst place in the world.” and we looked at each other and said, YEAH, WE’RE OUTTA HERE. Which is not a disserve to the staff—all of whom were so helpful and kind and obviously doing what they can in very, very reduced circumstances…and it looked like the nurses really didn’t want Mattie to have to have all those procedures either, but it was standard procedure with sick kids at that hospital. Isn’t that insane??

Anyway, I’ve go to tend to the sick kid now and try to get my books done and Revelations just came in for third pass edits (which means it’s all set out like the book – it looks gorgeous!!! by the way and my editor says it’s her favorite one yet… so i hope those are all good signs.)

Also -emails have gone out asking for Poetry contest entrants’ addresses – so please send yours in now! And the finalists and top 3 finalists should be contacted by today. I just got the large box from Hyperion with all the chapter samplers, so our fulfillment center (ie, my little brother, who will always be little to me even though he is 29 and just graduated columbia business school and newly engaged to be married—anyway, he’s helping me out this summer while he’s got some free time before he starts his big finance job in nyc) is ready to go.

take care everyone.