Live Blogging Our Visit to the Emergency Room

[Baby Watch: Day 138]

Last Saturday I carved out some time to write a new blog post about Baby Oliver. Just as I settled in, I heard Kristen shriek from the upstairs bathroom where she was bathing the baby. A shriek from within close proximity to a bathtub means that any and all manner of horrible accidents was fully in play. I expected she’d gotten soap in the baby’s eyes, or maybe she’d gotten soap in her own eyes, or maybe she just couldn’t find the soap . . . really anything was possible. But, even with a wide array of hazards in mind, imagine my surprise when she yelled, “Oliver is peeing blood!!!”

A minute-by-minute recap of the day as it unfolded:

12:45pm – This high-stress conversation:

Kristen: “Oliver is peeing blood!!!”
Me: “Are you sure it’s not your blood?”
[Kristen glares]
Me: “Well does he have a cut that you can see.”
[Kristen glares]
Me: “Okay, stop glaring, and tell me what you want me to do.”
Kristen: “Call our pediatrician’s office.”

12:52pm – The doctor returns our frazzled message and asks Kristen an almost identical set of questions that I did. I beam. I’m almost like a pediatrician! Her glaring intensifies.

1:00pm – Having received no magic solutions during the phone call, we follow the prescribed advice and depart for the closest emergency room. (Note: By “closest emergency room” I actually mean “a reasonably close emergency medical clinic that I thought would be less busy than a big emergency room.” Ain’t nobody need to fraternize with sick people.)

1:25pm – Having already seen a doctor at the medical clinic (I told you it wouldn’t be busy!), we are sent to the actual emergency room for a “complete work-up.” Sick people, here we come!

1:26pm – Kristen: “We should’ve gone to the emergency room in the first place.” Her glaring reaches fever pitch.

1:50pm – The emergency room’s computer systems are down. We scribble our contact information on a torn piece of notebook paper as though we’re entering some sort of fire hall raffle. I hope we win.

2:05pm – After 15 minutes, as the waiting room grows more and more crowded, it dawns on us that not one person has been admitted since we arrived. In the year 2015, a world renowned, state-of-the-art hospital let dozens of needy patients sit unattended . . . because of a wonky computer. DO THEY NOT HAVE A BACKUP SYSTEM???

2:35pm – 45 minutes, still nobody admitted. During the zombie apocalypse you’re more likely to be able to buy groceries from a mom & pop store with their manual credit card imprinter than you will be able to receive medical care. Good to know.

2:43pm – THE COMPUTERS ARE WORKING!!! Come one, come all; your health is once again cared for!

3:15pm – A sweet little boy, maybe 3 years old, pees his pants. His mother is across the room. She seems very uninterested in life. I have no idea what the protocol is in this situation. Should I tell the mother? Should I help the boy? Should I clean the puddle? The boy isn’t crying or anything; he’s just going about his business as if he didn’t just do his business in his khakis.

3:16pm – I make the decision to carefully monitor the situation from afar (aka: do nothing).

3:17pm – Nobody has noticed the pee puddle or the pee-pants kid. I may be on a hidden camera show. Play it cool, Brad. Play it cool.

3:35pm – I got distracted by Twitter, so I’m not sure how or when it happened, but there is now a new girl sitting in the chair where the boy peed his pants (she doesn’t seem to notice and / or mind), and the pee-pants boy is happily walking around with a shirt tied around his waste. The general public is none the wiser. See, we all know his story would end well! (Cause, if it didn’t I would’ve taken the sordid tale of my passive involvement to my grave.)

3:50pm – We’re finally permitted to enter the hallowed halls of health care. It is a great honor, and we are thankful.

3:52pm – As soon as we enter our room, I make a move to put turn the TV on with a remote that is attached to the wall in the corner of the room. (Look, I expected to continue our long wait, and I was bored; Oliver had fallen asleep in Kristen’s arms, and my cell phone battery was hovering in the “boy I bet you wish you’d charged me last night” range.) But of course my TV decision leads to an awkward exchange when three nurses simultaneously rush in to attend to our emergency, and I am trapped in the corner behind the now occupied stools and a bunch of medical equipment.

3:53pm – Kristen relates the blood in the pee story as I stand inches behind three grown adults holding a remote control that has suddenly stopped working. The TV has sputtered to life blaring a rerun of Knight Rider, and the other four adults grow silent as they wearily wait for me to turn the TV off amid a flurry of my awkward apologies. “Sorry, this remote is . . . I just thought we’d be waiting . . . didn’t realize that umm . . . it sure is loud . . . any of you Knight Rider fans?”

3:55pm – After assuring and reassuring the team of nurses that we are unaware of any recent trauma that could’ve caused Oliver’s medical malady, they put him through an extensive physical. Baby Oliver finds this to be hysterical and giggles throughout, once again proving that I am an insane person for constantly retelling stories of his awful behavior when he is, in fact, a perfect angel.

3:58pm – In the medical world, blood in the urine is known as “hematuria.” Yes, brain, you have my permission to delete that information at your earliest convenience.

4:05pm – The nurses gather a fine specimen of genuine Oliver pee (they literally taped a plastic baggie to his penis and tickled him till he peed).

4:06pm – The nurse says the words, “He has a very nice scrotum.” I giggle uncontrollably. A small part of Kristen dies inside. (But, I mean, come on. You can’t put me in a serious setting with an educated professional saying, “Your son has a nice scrotum . . . and a remarkable rectum.” It’s not a situation I’m meant to handle casually.)

4:20pm – The pee, which was tested to see if the blood was caused by a urinary tract infection, comes back negative.

4:40pm – We are sent to get an ultrasound on his kidney and bladder. I suspect they think my son is pregnant.


4:45pm – After tolerating the ultrasound for a few minutes, Oliver pivots his body and begins kicking the technician’s belly as hard as he can. It was such an impressive maneuver the guy couldn’t even get mad.

4:47pm – The tiny limbed assault continues.

4:49pm – The guy’s stomach has to be getting sore at this point. I wish I could handle unpleasant situations like this. I’d never need to tell my dentist that he’s being too rough when checking my gums with his miniature pickax. I could just swivel my body and thrash away at his ribcage. A surefire way to get your message across. Here is Oliver going to town:


5:00pm – It is dinner time. I am not eating dinner. This makes me unhappy. A lengthy conversation about how and when we will eat ensues. I propose ordering in. Would they deliver to a hospital room? A second lengthy conversation develops.

5:10pm – Taking matters into my own hands, I leave in search for food. I find a vending machine and purchase cheese crackers and a Snickers bar. Top five best moments of my weekend.

5:11pm – I’m locked out. Somehow the vending machine trek took me back into the waiting room. I don’t have my badge to get back to the secure area. I try to find someone who will let me back to my family. I’m getting a little testy. I quickly devour the Snickers before I turn into Danny Trejo. “Peter hit me on the nose with a football. I can’t go to the dance like this! Marsha, eat a Snickers; you get a little hostile when you’re hungry.”

5:35pm – A doctor tells us that, because every test has been normal thus far (a good thing), she wants to test Oliver’s blood for [medical terms I do no understand]. This means not only drawing blood, but also delicately inserting an I.V. into his tiny baby arm where it needs to gently remain for an unknown amount of time. Delicate and gentle are not words that describe my son well. He acts as if his lone goal in life is to flap his arms with such vigor that he takes flight. His favorite pastimes are jamming his foot in his mouth to chew on his toes, rhythmically writhing himself out of adult laps, and smashing toys hard enough to break them. And now he’s going to be expected to sit quietly for lengthy periods with a needle inserted in his arm. This will end poorly.

5:36pm – The doctor declines to give Oliver a horse sized dose of ketamine. The stage is set.

5:40pm – In walks Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dumbest. Tweedle-Dee looks like she just pulled an all-nighter at a Cyndi Lauper concerts and Tweedle-Dumbest looks like he’s about to enter a World’s Gangliest Limbo contest. My already low expectations are lowered.

5:41pm – The two of them proceed to take their gigantic needle and jab about in my son’s hands like a game of medieval Whack-A-Mole all while light-heartedly saying things like, “Oh gee whiz, I missed that vein again” and “What a slippery little devil.” It’s like watching drunken college kids play a game of Operation on an unstable ship while it lists side-to-side in a stormy sea. Only, instead of the guy’s nose lighting up as the buzzer sounds, it’s my son screaming like a banshee. Are we having fun yet?

5:48pm – Kristen begins to sob openly.

5:50pm –  After ten minutes of this ridiculous dance, the two nincompoops decide to get their supervisor. “We should get some help.” Ya think?

5:51pm – The supervisor is able to give Oliver the I.V. in his arm. It takes a total of five seconds, which of course does nothing to patch the 47 other holes in his hands that look like track marks on the world’s youngest heroin addict. Visions of child protective services dance in my head.

5:55pm – The screaming has subsided. All is quiet. I fear this is only the eye of the storm.

5:56pm – We have run out of diapers and clean baby outfits.

6:00pm – After two hours, I regain the nerve to turn on the TV. Seinfeld re-runs all around.

6:15pm – Oliver has fallen asleep. His arm is immobilized. This scene is pathetic:


6:20pm – I return to the vending machine and purchase pretzels and an iced mocha coffee. I contemplate a career as a nutritionist.

6:30pm – Oh look, another Seinfeld re-run!

7:00pm – And another. I get it, Jerry doesn’t like Newman, and Kramer’s mother did acid when he was in utero. I’m going for a walk.

7:02pm – Is it a shift change? Where is everybody? I wander the halls to ensure that there are, in fact, other living people in the hospital. I keep envisioning the first episode of The Walking Dead when Rick wakes up in the hospital and everyone is dead or zombified. I decide, if this is the case, my first move is to break into the vending machine.

7:04pm – I pass the pee pants boy in the hall. He’s wearing fresh pants!

7:30pm – Kristen’s breasts are reaching critical mass, as neither of us expected to be gone so long. She needs to pump soon or the room is going to turn into a lactose tsunami. (She had to stop breastfeeding early in Oliver’s life, but she still pumps so he can have breastmilk.) We enlist the services of Kristen’s parents to bring us supplies.

7:50pm – Kristen visits the restroom. She misunderstands my directions and, instead of using the toilet that was literally caddie-corner to our room, she ventures down several wrong corridors until she comes to a random restroom with the sign “Door does not lock.” This is the restroom she chooses.

8:05pm – Kristen’s lovely parents arrive with supplies from home including the much needed breast pump and accoutrements, fresh diapers, baby outfits, and cell phone chargers. Kristen’s breasts have not exploded. Tsunami averted.

8:15pm – The hunt for food continues. I have missed my window to eat in the cafeteria (stupid family and their stupid problems). I settle for a turkey and cheese sandwich and a bag of BBQ potato chips from a small cafe. My father-in-law buys. Not knowing he was going to pay, I now regret not ordering the steak sandwich.

8:16pm – Kristen informs me she does not like BBQ potato chips. WHAT?!? I had no idea!!! (winky face . . . wiping BBQ chip crumbs from shirt)

8:30pm – Kristen deliriously says, “Well, if one of his organs has to be bad, I hope it’s the kidney, cause at least he’s got two of them.”

9:00pm – The in-laws leave. We are once again cast into the depths of boredom. I should’ve had them bring a book or a magazine . . . or some Ambien.

9:15pm – We are told that we are about to be told something. We wait with bated breath.

9:18pm – More than eight hours after the original blood in the pee shriek, we are finally told (thankfully) that they couldn’t find anything wrong. Of course, there’s always the uncertainty of what caused it in the first place (my money is on some minor urethra damage caused by Oliver continuous tug-of-war with his penis), but in this case, no news was good news. Collective exhale.

9:20pm – The Hemmings Family Jamboree leaves the hospital with baby, diaper bag, three other bags of supplies, and a half eaten bag of Cheez-its. Oh yeah, I forgot; I went back to the vending machine for Cheez-its. YOLO.

10:00pm – We finally arrive home. I was the sole Hemmings family member to not sleep on the car ride home. I say this not with pride, but with jealousy. If I’m being accused of a deadly sin, please make sure it is the correct one.

In the aftermath, all three of us end up coming down with varying sickness symptoms a few days later. (Thanks two hour waiting room visit! Loved getting to know you and your many illnesses!) We have a follow-up appointment with a urologist in a few weeks, but we’re not expecting them to do much unless we see more blood in the interim. (Spellcheck kept trying to change “blood in the interim” to “blood in the intern.” In other news, Blood in the Intern is the name of my new horror novel, hitting shelves next year.)

Three days later we attend Oliver’s 4-month check up. The pediatrician says, “I hear you had quite the adventure on Saturday.” I give her my best Kristen glare. I learned from the best.

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