The worst moment of my life to this point was sitting in a neon-lit emergency room corridor and hearing through the closed door of the examination room three weeks old Dandelion screaming with pain while undergoing a spinal tap procedure.
If you didn't click on the above link, you might be under the impression I'm an overreacting drama queen. Not everybody likes fictitious heavy metal, but really, how bad could it be? Bad. As bad as having an ER intern take a long needle and insert it into your newborn's spinal canal to sample his cerebrospinal fluid in order to test for meningitis.
You can thank me later for affixing this image in your mind.
The nurse that resolutely ushered me out of the room before the procedure promised it wouldn't hurt and that the doctor knows what he's doing. Liar. I've never despised myself quite so much as when I was meekly walking out of the room, knowing in my gut she is not telling me the truth. Feeling that I should stay there, if not to protect my baby from the pain I could not prevent, than at least to hold his hand and comfort him.
I understand why she did what she did. I understand that the last thing they need is an hysterical mom losing it in the midst of a very delicate procedure. I understand that they need to check for everything when such a young baby comes into the ER, even if all he has is bronchiolitis, because at this age meningitis needs to be treated quickly and aggressively.
I understood, but it didn't help my wanting to barge into the room and rescue my poor baby from the hands of the evil monsters.
Were there alternatives? I'm not sure. Maybe I could have demanded that they not perform the procedure. Could I have taken that responsibility on myself? I suspect not. Than again, knowing how painful the procedure is, could I have just let them go on with it without protesting or at least raising the question of necessity?
I think that despite my inherent trust in authorities and institutes and my respect for the medical profession in general, if I ever face the decision again, I'm going to be much more intrusive. You have to perform a painful medical procedure on my baby? Convince me there's no other way. Right now, I don't care for your long shift and all the other things on your mind. This is my baby and I need you to see it for the tiny human being that he is, and not as the 125th case of the day. I need you to really care for him and his discomfort, and I'll be a nosy and noisy shrew if I have to.
This is not even the post I meant to write when I started. I meant to write about baby's attention span after reading this, but the opening paragraph sent me 18 months back to the spinal tap story:
Philosophers and doctors used to dispute (sometimes still do dispute) whether babies are conscious or merely (as Alison Gopnik puts it in her criticism of the view) "crying carrots". This view went so far that doctors often used to think it unnecessary to give anaesthesia to infants. Infants are still, I think, not as conscientiously anaesthetized as adults.
Infants are still, I think, not as conscientiously anaesthetized as adults. And that's why my next visit to the ER, may it never come to happen, is going to be radically different than my last one.
(Please don't forget that I'm no doctor or any type of medical professional for that matter, and that my opinion is my opinion only. )