E.V. and the ER

Oh what a night!

These past two weeks with E.V. have been full of “firsts,” and last night we figured we’d knock “first visit to the ER” off of the list.

While Ryan’s been in New York for his second mini-trip in July, us girls have been hanging around the house, enjoying the summer storms and relaxing. Yesterday afternoon, however, I noticed that Emma Vance’s left eye was a bit watery and red, causing me some concern. I watched it over a few hours, and when it got worse, I began to panic.

Any true friend of mine knows I have two (ir)rational fears in life: Ticks and pink eye. (I know, I know. Random? Yes. But any former childhood camper knows that ticks are the creepiest of creatures and anyone who’s had pink eye knows it’s the worst form of punishment anyone could imagine.)

Pink eye?!? NO! DEAR LORD, NO! I hate to say this, but since Emma Vance seemed nonplussed about the whole swollen-eye situation, I was panicked about catching it myself. I’ve had pink eye once, and it was scarring to say the least. I immediately SCRUBBED my hands, put on my glasses as a protective “shield,” and examined my own eyes…nothing so far.

After putting on my big girl pants and realizing that I had to decide what to do (since I was playing single mom for the night), I grabbed E.V. and headed to the urgent care facility by my house. I can do this. No big deal, right? In and out (since I’m sure it’s empty on a Friday night), some antibiotics, and we’re done. I didn’t even pack a diaper bag, since I had convinced myself that it was going to be a quick trip. However, when I walked in, the receptionist took one look at E.V. and sent me away. Apparently you have to be three months old to be treated at an urgent care. Dang.

So I called my pediatrician to see if it could wait until their Saturday office hours. Unfortunately, due to her age (and because it could’ve possibly been a blocked tear duct), the on-call nurse sent me to the ER. I, of course, began to cry from the stress of being a single mom with a sick kid. I called Ryan, who  wasn’t able to be much help being so far away, and headed to the hospital straight from the urgent care.

It’s been about ten years since I’ve been to an ER, and let’s hope it’s another ten until I have to go again. It was dismal, full of depressing people and dingy. Plus, I felt as if I was breathing in germs the whole time. (I used their anti-bacterial station about 30 times while in the waiting room. No exaggeration.) I had NOTHING with me–no diapers, no bottles, no blanket to cover her car seat…bad mom. So we sat in the most secluded spot possible and waited a bit impatiently, leaning away any time someone walked near us and avoiding eye contact at all costs. Emma Vance was a trooper, contentedly gazing at all the new sights around her, keeping herself pleasantly awake through her usual nap time. (Thank goodness she’s an easy going baby!) During this time where she observed the hospital and I observed her, it occurred to me that in her world, only two things seem to exist thus far: our house and medical spaces. Huh.

We made the traditional move from waiting room to initial check-in room to exam room in about an hour. (And what a LONG hour it was!) E.V. didn’t fuss at all until we got into the exam room, which was super hot and not soundproof (surrounding us with the sounds of another baby screaming, a guy moaning in pain and someone retching). I ended up undressing her, wiping her down with anti-bacterial sanitizer and blowing on her to cool her down. Then, of course, she simultaneously threw up on me and pooped her only diaper. Crud. It was miserable.

Then the doctor came in, referred to “Emma” as “he” about seven times until he checked her diaper at the very end of the exam, took a 30-second look at her eye, declared it was conjunctivitis and was done. I did manage to ask if she got it from poop getting in her eye (hey, I’m a Google-er), to which he reacted as if I had three heads. (So that’s a “no,” right doc?) Apparently he thinks she got it from her hands being in her eyes. I also asked the doctor for a diaper, for which I received the same three-headed look. I responded, “Sorry, first time mom.”

A $100 co-pay later, and I was off to CVS to pick up a prescription before heading home. It, of course, was pitch black and pouring out by the time we left the hospital, so we got soaked on the way to the car. Lovely.

By this time, E.V. had skipped a nap, had been poked and prodded, and was due to eat, so she was entitled to be a bit fussy. While we waited for our prescription to be filled, I discovered that driving along bumpy areas puts her to sleep, so I did donuts in a poorly paved parking lot, attempting to hit every pot hole possible. Too bad for my poor car!

I spent all night just feeling bad for the girl. She never ceased to be in good spirits, totally oblivious to her red, watery, swollen eye. She was a good sport about the eye drops and was excited to make up for her missed sleep once we got home. I also spent the night being freaked out that I had already contracted pink eye; I mean, her eyes are all over me and near my face all the time, and I can’t just NOT hold her while she’s infectious. I prayed that it would be a short recovery (especially since my irrational fear made me deal with it so quickly) and that it wouldn’t spread…

And then this morning it was gone. I mean gone. Miracle or misdiagnosis? I’m not sure either way. Her eye’s a little swollen still, but no other symptoms were apparent a mere 12 hours later. Hmmm. The pediatrician’s office did mention that it might be a scratch (and E.V. does mess with her eyes a lot…) and not pink eye, and by the morning light, it seems that a scratch is the likely cause. The ER doctor may have been a bit quick to draw conclusions, and I’m sure my suggestion that it was pink eye didn’t deter his opinion. We’re still going to use up the drops (can’t hurt) and be extra careful just in case it’s some non-existent form of asymptomatic pink eye.

Conclusion to this story? Eye drops every four hours, a three-day quarantine in case it IS pink eye, two exhausted ladies, and one happy wife upon Ryan’s return this afternoon!


  1. July 15, 2012 / 2:16 am

    Hud got pink eye at 10 days old and I noticed it in the middle of the night! I remember crying uncontrollably because I was afraid he was going blind as it was so crusted over. (This was before I knew it was conjunctivitis.) Luckily the nurse on call at Children’s told me to just keep wiping it with a warm cloth and just sent me to the pediatrician the next day so we didn’t have to go to the ER. You sound like you handled this situation beautifully….go Talie-mom!

  2. July 15, 2012 / 2:52 am

    AH Talie! I’m cracking up thinking about you doing donuts in a parking lot. I’m glad you survived. Newborns are terrifying!

  3. July 16, 2012 / 6:10 pm

    I am so impressed with your sanity during such an uncertain night — what a night to not have Ryan there! Glad that’s behind you :)

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