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‘No Mother’ in the ER

OK, it’s becoming a weekend plan–burgers, fries, a quick, or perhaps not so quick, trip to the ER…

As many of you know, my husband’s grandmother has been staying with us for several weeks since her daughter “went abroad” for a spell.  We honestly love having her with us.  She has made the Great Depression come alive for my children at a time I believe it is important to remember what could be for us.

She has drawn elaborate family trees for my sons and described great-great grandparents, aunts and uncles in amazing details that have brought these ancestors alive.

She actually dragged out the Easy Bake Oven and helped my children bake three miniscule Crabby Patties in it–something I hardly ever do because of the mess and the stress over portioning out these tiny treats.  (Why are they so blooming tiny???)

At 88, however, her health is decent, but a bit troubled.  Yesterday, she sort of “fell out” in a kitchen chair and I took her blood pressure only to find it was quite high.  Back to the ER for her.  6:30 on a Friday night.  You wouldn’t think it would be so…so…so…

Well, let me just paint an ER picture for you.

A thin, bespeckled, bookish boy of perhaps seven or eight is curled up in a soiled chair, his thin legs dangling over the edge. He leans gingerly over a plastic Country Crock tub, repeatedly throwing up.  He is ostensibly alone.

His grandfather (I guess?) sits nearby, ignoring him for the most part, and occasionally glancing disgustedly in his direction.  All the strength that poor dear can muster is called on to raise his head to aim correctly at the “crock.”  Several soiled towels and rags are clustered about his chair.

Each time he becomes sick the “grandfather” looks over at him and scowls.  At one point the “grandfather” gruffly, perhaps drunkenly, addressed the packed waiting room: “Anybody got a dress we can put on this boy?  This boy needs a dress!  Look at him. The pansy.”

I boiled inside.  I looked at him, made clear eye contact, and scowled angrily.  Several older ladies in the room protested sweetly, but loudly.  We looked at each other and sadly exchanged glances.  Earlier in the night, I had shared my anti-bacterial hand gel with these kind ladies.

It was all Grandmama and I could do to hold back our tears.  This poor forgotten boy sat in an ER waiting room with no one to comfort him.  I seriously thought about going over to him…just to place a calming hand on his shoulder.

Yet I was afraid of the grandfather, afraid of bringing those germs home to an elderly woman and my own children.  So I simply sat there and prayed that this child could feel an unseen hand gently rubbing his back.

Then things got worse.

His “mother” arrived in from a “smoke,” unlit cigarette in hand, three other children tagging behind and another woman, too.  They wore filthy socks and no shoes…padding all over the streaked ER floor.  It was clear that bathing was a foreign, or perhaps unavailable, concept; they clutched plastic bags of Cokes and candy.  Everyone flitted about the ER, talking loudly, ignoring their poor, wretching son/brother.

Another man sat down next to the tiny boy, his arm bound tightly.  A family member sat nearby.  Suddenly the troubled man started up, ripped off his bandage, and blood spurted all over the chairs, the small boy, the floor.  Mayhem ensued.  Nurses were called; the man removed.

The poor, sick boy was jerked out of his chair by his mother who dragged him over to the only other available chair–two chairs down from us.  His sister waved the dirty rags all about the ER, dancing to her own, hidden song, while germs peppered the air and the sick tried to avoid being hit.

Maintenance came in to remove all the soiled chairs, replacing them with nothing.  People stood or leaned against walls.

My mind churned.  The nurse said we had at least a three-hour wait to see a doctor, and with the blood pressure issue settled, she wasn’t sure what could be done for Grandmama.

A worried father rushed in with his four-year-old daughter, her hand tightly bound in clean, white towels.  Her tawny curls spilled down his back as he spoke to her in concerned, hushed whispers.  Her grandmother rushed in, sat next to me, and explained that the poor girl’s finger had been severed.

Nervously they waited.  And waited.  And protested.  And waited.  We prayed, and waited.  Why wasn’t she rushed back to surgery?  Why did a child have to wait like this?

I learned so many things during this night.  Many of you are probably nodding your heads and saying what a sheltered life I have led.  You would be right.

I also am so thankful God didn’t put this scenario before me when Sue was getting her chin stitched just three short weeks ago; he spared her three-year-old mind these troubling images, for which I am exceedingly glad. He did, however, allow me to glimpse into this world yesterday for several specific reasons that I realize now, and several more yet to come.

So often as I sat in that waiting room I thought of Kia’s fascinating posts of late regarding being a “good mother.”

Please do not think I am criticizing or judging this mother and grandfather.  I have no idea what their life circumstances have been.  I don’t know the pain they have faced, or the fires they have trudged through.  I do know that little boy needed comfort and love, and there was nobody there to give it.

And that broke me in a certain strange way.

It reminded me of friends who either have or are in the process of adopting babies from orphanages all over the world.  You see, I have tangentially understand these dear friends’ desires to adopt; yet until this night when I saw a child so needy, I never truly understood their fervor and drive.

Because if someone would have allowed me to scoop up this little boy in my already-burdened arms and take him home forever, I would have done it.

I would have signed the papers right then and there.

Posted on 27 September '08 by , under Faith is the Evidence.

29 Comments to “‘No Mother’ in the ER”

#1 Posted by hellokittiemama/MT (27.09.08 at 23:34 )

Oh my.

I would have lost it. 1) because if someone throws up near me I throw up. and 2) because I hate to see kids ‘hurt’ – the little boy sick, the little girl with the cut finger… and 3) I have no patience for waiting, none at all.

How is Grandma doing now?

hellokittiemama/MTs last blog post..11 years and this is what I get!

#2 Posted by Elizabeth (27.09.08 at 23:42 )

Grandmama is better today, I think. Her BP is fine, which is major. Taking it one day at a time. Thanks so much for your concern!

#3 Posted by Elle (28.09.08 at 00:02 )

It seems to be your weekly ritual. Glad your Grandmother is doing better. It’s so hard to see children suffering and nobody seeming to care. It’s heartbreaking and makes me hug my children tighter. We were at an amusement park last week and I was waiting in line with Sissy. Ahead of us was a mother with 3 children. She started yelling at one of her daughters, saying such mean things. After a moment, I felt Sissy’s hand slip into mine and we looked at each other, both thinking the same thing. We talked about it later, but she didn’t really understand. Sorry to be so long. Hope next weekend is better!

#4 Posted by Mrsbear (28.09.08 at 00:10 )

That makes me so sad. I don’t even know what else to say. What a troubling trip for you and grandma. Hope you don’t have to visit the ER for a long time to come.

Mrsbears last blog post..Bad Mommy Moments, Joining the Ranks

#5 Posted by Julie (28.09.08 at 00:22 )

You’re making me cry! :'(

Julies last blog post..SOOC Saturday

#6 Posted by Crystal @ Memoirs of a Mommy (28.09.08 at 00:36 )

This is just the saddest thing ever. How incredibly heart breaking. I’m so glad that Grandma is doing better.

Crystal @ Memoirs of a Mommys last blog post..Stay Away From My Bikini Area

#7 Posted by Corina (28.09.08 at 01:07 )

That is so sad. I am so troubled to know of all the children that lack the love they need in the world. I hope that grandma is feeling better and recovers. Time to stop the ER visits, ok?

Corinas last blog post..Panting like a dog

#8 Posted by Stonefox (28.09.08 at 01:43 )

Elizabeth, that is just terrible. I can’t believe how ugly grown ups can be in their words to children. Parenting aside, there is just common decency that each one of us should possess. I’m praying for that little boy.

Stonefoxs last blog post..Typhoon Update

#9 Posted by Danette (28.09.08 at 02:14 )

That just breaks my heart… and makes me angry too. The thought of any child suffering alone like that, with his family around him uncaring and unsympathetic… it’s just awful.

I hope ya’ll don’t have to venture back to the ER for a long long time.

Danettes last blog post..Stinky stuff

#10 Posted by autismfamily (28.09.08 at 10:33 )

Very descriptive scene at the ER. Sounds even worse than the Sunday me and my boys went for my face (severe excema breakout) and I wanted a shot. We were there eight hours. Matthew paced most of the time. I had a duffel bag of stuff, but did not prepare for 8 hours.

Both my neighbors regularly call 911. Is that not an option where you are. I would try that next time? Does Grandma have insurance? What state are you in? good luck with her BP. Nice that she uses the easy bake oven with the kids and that they get this great family history lesson.

#11 Posted by melody is slurping life (28.09.08 at 10:45 )

My heart always breaks in moments such as you describe. So sad. As a former foster parent, I’ve seen many children suffer from neglect and abuse.

I am happy to know that Grandma is ok now and hope there are no more BP issues for her.

melody is slurping lifes last blog post..Color My World ~ SOOC Saturday

#12 Posted by On The Verge (28.09.08 at 11:25 )

What a terrible experience. I hope Grandma is feeling better and you don’t have to do that again anytime soon. The world is such a harsh place. Makes you grateful for what you already have….mostly love.

On The Verges last blog post..For Those Of You With Daughters

#13 Posted by Renée aka Mekhismom (28.09.08 at 12:30 )

I can’t believe you had to go to the ER again. I hope all is well with Grandma. And what in hell is going on with that family? It sounds like someone needs to call cps on that family. I can only imagine what the living conditions are where they live. That is so sad, some people really shouldn’t have children.

Renée aka Mekhismoms last blog post..Diaper Cake Update

#14 Posted by Renée aka Mekhismom (28.09.08 at 12:30 )

I can’t believe you had to go to the ER again. I hope all is well with Grandma. And what in hell is going on with that family? It sounds like someone needs to call cps on that family. I can only imagine what the living conditions are where they live. That is so sad, some people really shouldn’t have children.

Renée aka Mekhismoms last blog post..Diaper Cake Update

#15 Posted by janine (28.09.08 at 13:15 )

Oh that poor boy. I would also have wanted to scoop him up and take him home. Breaks my heart.

#16 Posted by ParentingPink (28.09.08 at 13:16 )

Oh, what a heartbreaking story. Really. I’m not sure what I would have done in that situation. It pains me to no end to see children suffering – especially when they appear unloved and unnurtured. When I was a therapist, I used to work with adolescents and in some small way it allowed me to peer into their tortured world and at least provide them some stability or comfort. That poor boy. All alone in his moment of need. Ugh! You care kind not to blame the mom and grandpa. But me, well I guess I’m not so kind. No one should leave a child to suffer alone. And this child was ALONE.

That being said, I think I would of been forced to do the same thing as you did. Not knowing the fragile background of his caretakers, it’s hard to step in and intervene. I guess it’s a wake-up call to all us mommies to give our sons and daughters extra hugs tonight!

#17 Posted by April ~ EnchantedDandelions (28.09.08 at 16:24 )

I’m sitting her bawling. That is absolutely heart-breaking. 🙁

April ~ EnchantedDandelionss last blog post..Touching Base with EI

#18 Posted by Helene (28.09.08 at 17:31 )

Oh Elizabeth, that is truly sad and it’s even sadder to realize that there are a thousands of little boys like him in the same living situation. I used to work in the foster care system and everyday I would encounter a story that broke my heart. You just want to rescue all of them but you know you can’t. Hopefully, our prayers help.

I’m glad to hear your grandmama is doing better! She sounds like she’s having such a good time with your kids and I’m sure she’s creating such wonderful memories for them to look back on in the future!

Helenes last blog post..Just back from the Happiest Place on Earth…

#19 Posted by Patty O. (28.09.08 at 17:46 )

This is just breaking my heart. I know there is this kind of suffering in the world, but being sheltered, I rarely encounter it. When I was a high school teacher in the inner city in Chicago, I saw a lot of sad, heartbreaking stuff, but also a lot of hopeful things. What is saddest about this story is that a little boy was suffering all alone. And if his mom and grandma are like this when he is puking his brains out, and possibly quite ill, how do you think they are normally? Scary stuff.

I agree with you that I would have wanted to scoop him up and rescue him, give him all the TLC I have. It just makes me think of how Danny would be in a situation like that, totally abandoned by those who should love him the most. What can we do to help?

Patty O.s last blog post..danny’s funny

#20 Posted by Lorie (28.09.08 at 17:48 )

This breaks my heart. There is nothing worse than seeing a child being mistreated and have no one in their life to speak a kind word…dote on them…protect them…tell them it’s going to be okay.

Oh, this old world is so wretched and ungodly! Jesus, come quickly…

Got a lump in my throat now.

Lories last blog post..Aunt Thelma’s Orange Carrot Cookies

#21 Posted by Kia (Good Enough Mama) (28.09.08 at 19:50 )

First, you need to stop making a routine of the E.R. Honestly, don’t you have anything better to do? 😉

Second, how awful. You must have felt sick watching that boy sit all alone. I’m sure I would have. 🙁 Life is so unfair for some children. If I allowed it, this could really get me down. So many of us are struggling to feel “Good Enough” in our parenting while we’re actually pretty awesome. And yet, too many others are happy to do less than enough. Kids should never go without a needed hug or a little bit of comforting when they’re ill. 🙁 Sometimes this world just sucks. Big hairy donkey balls.

Kia (Good Enough Mama)s last blog post..September is OVARIAN CANCER AWARENESS MONTH!!

#22 Posted by kim (28.09.08 at 23:43 )

How terribly SAD!
It is heartbreaking
I can not believe the nurses did not call DFACS
They might have…
Anyway, I am glad sweet grandma is better
Cole is a bit better
He still has a fever and now Craig has some stomach bug – oh happy day!
Love ya

kims last blog post..We made a decision about …

#23 Posted by Peanut (29.09.08 at 06:36 )

It just kills me to see kids suffer like you described and to know that there are kids out there who aren’t treasured and delighted in. I know exactly what you meant when you said you wanted to scoop him up in your arms. I guess sometimes all we can do is pray that Jesus will hold them in his arms.
You get a little too much education if you spend any time in the ER these days.

Peanuts last blog post..For the record

#24 Posted by ashley (29.09.08 at 08:22 )

Perhaps soon you will become an emergency room VIP. I am sure that nothing is a coincidence in life, I needed to read this post this morning. Your visit really reminds me of how blessed we are to not be in the condition of some of your ER friends – tired, hopeless, hungry, scared. . . Your heart is a continually witness to me and you push me to feel and understand compassion at a higher level. Much Much Love, Ashley

#25 Posted by andreacook (29.09.08 at 08:44 )

Thanks for sharing. How horrific. There are so many kids out there that are neglected like that! So sad! 🙁
How’s grandmamma? How are you holding up? A trip like that to ER would drain me for a while, take the best from me for a couple of days at least. God’s peace to you friend!

andreacooks last blog post..Thank You Sarah

#26 Posted by Jamey (29.09.08 at 10:59 )

wow that was crazy. I hope grandma is doing better. I just feel bad for that poor boy! Breaks my heart too.

Jameys last blog post..Farewell to Entrecard….

#27 Posted by jaden (29.09.08 at 14:01 )

You have painted a picture that is just… so sad… so angering… so unforgivable! Even though as you said, there’s no way to know where to really place the blame, because who knows what kind of a life those adults had as well. But when kids are treated this way, it just makes me sick. I don’t know what can begin to justify that.

Hope Grandmama is feeling better, and that there will be no trips to the ER next weekend!

jadens last blog post..Dear Babushka: I Miss You. A Lot..

#28 Posted by Carla (29.09.08 at 14:46 )

That poor boy! I would have been so anxious (germ-o-phobia to throw up viruses), but man that poor poor boy!!!


Adoption is a beautiful thing, it really and truly is. You aren’t saving someone, YOU are the one who is saved. I’ve received all the blessings from adopting Katie. I’ve seen faces of the kids in the orphanage and my heart turned over. Without getting too religious, I now see my walk with Him in a totally new light. Katie is my daughter, I didn’t do anything special really…but I’m so very very blessed.

#29 Posted by Three Channels » Why No German Aphid Toothbrush Timer? (12.10.08 at 21:42 )

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