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  • Writer's pictureJoshua Bentley

The 9th First - Return to the ER

Oh, yikes. The other night I had to take my oldest to the ER close to our house. Talk about getting triggered! She had been wrestling with tooth pain and hadn’t yet been able to see her dentist. The pain kept getting worse until that day when, touching her jawline, she felt something hard on the inside of her jaw. At first she thought it was the root, but then she swallowed and it moved. And so I went with her to the ER because Urgent Care was closed. (Which is kinda funny because earlier in the evening, I told Belinda that I wasn’t going to take her to the ER if she cut her finger off. In fact, I’ve said I’m not going to the ER ever again - jokingly, of course.)

YUCKY!! I hate the ER. So many bad memories, so many emergencies, so many trips thinking it wasn’t a big deal and ending up with surprise news of the worst kind. It made me grumpy. I love Christi and I wanted her to be reassured that it wasn’t a big deal or at least have some kind of information rather than sitting in panic and anxiety. Thankfully the hard spot was just a lymph node near where her tooth is and the fact that it was swollen and she was experiencing pain meant that she had a tooth infection. She got penicillin and ibuprofen and made a dentist appointment the next day.

So she’s OK, but we both had the same reaction when we heard the diagnosis - “WHEW! Thank you, Jesus.” Too many trips with unexpected outcomes. Too many times of seeing the decor, familiarity with walking in the doors and the front desk and triage procedure, knowing exactly where the warm blankets are, the nurses' station, the restrooms, and the contents of the exam room. Seeing room #9 and remembering the number of times we visited there. And, ultimately, remembering Christmas night when Joni was taken there then admitted to Swedish in Seattle which was, unbeknownst to us, the beginning of the end.

So much emotion and grief wrapped up in a simple trip to the ER. I wanted to be connected and involved with Christi’s care while we were there - to be her advocate in case she needed it. I did my best, but I wrestled with the temptation to disconnect myself, to go numb and withdraw. I knew Christi needed that and needed my support, so I did what I could while also letting Christi advocate for herself. (Growth opportunities and all that.)

And we made it out with nothing to worry about. For once. Once in approximately four years. Not a great record. So, that fear or distaste was confronted and I should be able to face it again, right? Nope. I still never want to go back to the ER. I will if I have to because that’s the right thing to do, but I sure as heck don’t want to.

Thanks for reading.

Image Copyright NBC/ABC, Scrubs


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