Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Bonked Noggin and Test Driving the Swedish Hospital System I had my first mom medical panic moment, and an opportunity to test out the Swedish hospital care. As I am blogging retroactively, I'll tell you this happened Monday April 27th.

We have a ladder/staircase in the front hall, and after rehashing just the weekend before the potential safety concerns, and questioning the likelihood of the stairs posing a problem, the Swedegirl took a tumble from them- about 6 feet down to a tile floor. She was feeling quite sleepy from a weekend of late nights, and we'd ominously just finished a good round of "London bridge is falling down...falling down....falling down..." when I heard her make the first two steps and then a big crash.

I found her laying on the ground, not making noise, with her pupils large like saucers, which spoke to my inner biological programing to read, as bad, real bad....Of course she had JUST been to the eye doctor and had her pupils dilated that morning, so my ability to get a neurological reading from her pupils was all messed up, but let me say, finding a unresponsive kid with eyes wide open and dilated with a bit of drool coming out and making no noise is NOT REASSURING at all.

I thought it was bad right off, and my maternal instinct was to call for help even before going to comfort her. I fumbled with the phone, and got SwedeDaddy on the phone who sent his sister, who is a nurse and our neighbor, over. In the mean time, I called the emergency number, but they were no help at all. They took too long asking dumb questions when I needed to go be with the SwedeGirl, and clearly were not planning on sending an ambulance right now. I became pretty sure I could get help faster on my own than via any help they planned to offer, so I just hung up.
Long story short, she came to quickly and cried. I assessed there were no broken bones, and she moved her head/ neck on her own. She cried long and hard, and then went on to say how sleeeeeepy she was. It is not great to hear a kid with a head injury beg to go to bed. Then she puked, twice. This made me feel really freaked out, like we may be having a Natasha Richardson moment.
SwedeAunt drove us to the hospital. I fumbled getting car seats in, and made enough time to grab a 'snuggle thing' per the SwedeGirl's request, which was a good move as Tigger and a Care Bear brought her much comfort during her stay. All along the drive, the SwedeGirl was asking- "Where are we going?" The hospital, I'd answer. 'Why?" You bonked your head, I'd say. Then we would repeat this conversation every two minutes for the half hour drive. She did not remember the details of the morning- going to the eye doctor or school, or that she had fallen, or thrown up.
SwedeDaddy came from work and made it to the hospital before us, and briefed the nurse. He got a chuckle out of the fact that there is a "take a number" thing in the waiting room, but no obvious reception person. So Swedish- they love to have you take a number here! So he said he knocked on a nurse's office window, and just started talking instead. When I arrived with the Swedegirl, they had the emergency room all ready- we by passed the waiting room and went right to the room that looks like an OR. A quick check of vital signs showed she was stable, and not bleeding. She was still soooooo sleepy and having amnesia. The doctor told her it was OK to go to sleep now. I asked why people with concussions are supposed to be kept awake, and the doctor replied it is because they do not want you going into a deep coma at home. Oh. Now we were at the hospital that was apparently OK... Great...... Anyway, I asked the doctor- if she goes to sleep, all I want to know is that she will wake up. She will, the doctor reassured me. She said children with head injuries often just need to go to sleep and reset themselves a bit, and get distance from the injury. Sure enough, after a short sleep, the Swedegirl woke up. Not long after, she began talking and making clever observations. Slowly, we got reassurance her brain still worked just fine. But after two hours -at least- of not being so sure she'd be okay. I've never had a mom panic moment before that. Blood- after being a midwife it doesn't phase me- and I know you can lose quite a lot before it's an issue! Pain- I know how to handle people voicing pain! But brains- I don't like messing with the brain. Bleeding and broken bones, those you can fix. But brains, once broken, can't be fixed. So head injuries actually scare me. In the end, we ordered pizza in the ER room and Swedegirl got invited to stay the night for observation. By the time we got checked into her room, she was super-excited about the blue PJs they brought her, the free toothpaste and tooth brush, and the remote control bed. I was so happy to see her up and at 'em I did nothing to stop her from making the bed go up, down, up, down, chair position, flat....and over and over again, despite the fact that it may have been bothering the roommate on the other side of the curtain. I was feeling good it was not the beginning of the end....that she did in fact wake up, as promised. So she could play with the remote control bed all she wanted, as far as I was concerned.

Overall, the Swedish hospital made a few good impressions. One, somehow I felt less grossed out by the whole place than I am in American hospitals. It just seemed cleaner. The modern Scandinavian decor made it seem more like an art museum than a hospital. Second, I loved that there is a dedicated children's ER- no waiting with all the drunk accident victims, like in the American ER. Mostly just kids with fevers, in a kid friendly environment. And because we were in the kids' ward, every person was good at dealing with kids, and was kind and reassuring to us and our daughter. And lastly, in this land of socialized medicine, there was no one making decisions based on what our insurance would cover, or judging us or anyone else there for having or not having medical coverage. This was huge, I realized, as in the USA the staff will look down upon people with no insurance, medicaid, or the wrong health policy. It sets them up to think it's okay to treat patients differently- some people they treat well, and others they have a carte blanche to treat poorly. They even treat them to less medical care if it is not covered, and do so with a punitive, you deserve less attitude. So it was nice to notice that with out that variable of 'coverage', the medical staff had no experience treating anyone badly, and expected to offer everyone the treatment they needed and to do it with a good attitude. It was a relief to make the trip with out worry about what it would cost, if we were going to the right hospital for our health plan, or if we were going to have to pay a big deductible on our insurance policy. Or pay it all out of pocket if we were uninsured. We got settled in the big room, and I tucked the Swedegirl into bed, and headed home with the new baby. Her dad had a nice big comfy bed built right into the room so he could keep her company overnight. They even brought him a free toothbrush (no PJs, though)! They both had breakfast from a buffet in the morning, and then when I picked them up, she was playing in a really nicely decorated play room with a wooden kitchen and big tractors that rivaled the best preschools for decor and selection of toys. We were sent home with no special instructions, but decided to keep her from jumping, flipping, bike riding, and otherwise jostling her noggin for a good week. And all seems well.
Sometimes you are reminded it is just nice to have you and your loved ones alive and well in one properly functioning piece.


Heidi said...

Wow. How scary, but how nice that Swedegirl seems to be doing just fine. And free toothpaste and PJs? I love Scandinavia.

Stephanie said...

So glad to hear all went well and your daughter is ok - it seems she was treated great at the hospital. Unfortunately, it's not always like that for the adults. I begged the doctors at my vardcentralen to let me see a hospital specialists for 3 months before developing a huge infection that required emergency surgery at Lunds University Hospital. Before they determined that I needed that emergency surgery, I saw 3 doctors in the ER, none of whom knew that the previous doctor had seen me. Fortunately the surgery went well, but I feel that if I were in the US I would have never need it because I would have been able to see a specialist in less than 4 months time. Sometimes socialized medicine is great, but other times it's not all it's cracked up to be.

Kenny & Kate said...

brain injuries are scary - glad to hear that she's okay and still thinking how nice that would be to have a seperate children's ER and having to explain all the other patients to them.