Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Inside the Emergency Room

After one day of diarrhea and another day of vomiting, Ian's system started shutting down. His diaper was dry the whole day, and he refused water. When he cried, no tears came out.

We rushed him to the crowded emergency room at Columbia Presbyterian. Columbia Presbyterian hospital is considered one of the primo hospitals in the country. It has a top medical school and high achieving physicians doing cutting edge procedures. Some of the most prominent New Yorkers go there when ill. Darryl Strawberry went there to cure his cancer, though it couldn't stop his love of the white powder.

Sonny Van Bulow lies in a special room on the top floor in her dreamless sleep. Claus spends millions to keep her in permanent coma so that he can avoid murder charges. The medical students file in to observe what happens to the comatose body after many years of slow decomposition. They are sworn to secrecy.

Although many celebrities use the hospital, it mainly serves the poor of Washington Heights. The rich go in one entrance to the nice floors, and the poor use the grungy emergency room.

The emergency room where we were late Monday night was full of uninsured Dominicans. Some were very bad off. A teenager with a stab wound. The asthma room is heavily used by kids gasping for breath. But there are also many with more minor problems that could be taken care of by a simple doctor's visit, but lacking insurance, they must go to the hospital instead. The 19 year old in the next room to ours had an out of sync period.

We were there for nine hours rehydrating Ian with a quart of fluids and glucose. I am not going to write about how it felt to watch my baby probed and stabbed by strangers with rubber gloves. I lack the writing skills to express these feelings with sounding either too glib or overly maudlin. But I will say that I feel very, very bad for parents with kids with cancer or serious birth defects who have to undergo much more serious procedures.

He's much better now, thank God. It all happened so quickly. 48 hours really. He's mostly back to his old boisterous self, and we're very thankful.

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