Saturday, April 17, 2010

First Trip to the ER

Our streak lasted 19 months. That's how long we made it without having to take Amelia to the ER, or even to the doctor except for check-ups. But it came to an end last week when we got to experience the Portuguese socialized medical system first-hand for the first time.

While playing in our backyard she took a tumble off of the 4-inch step from our patio area onto the grass. When I picked her up her mouth was bloody and I couldn't see one of her top front teeth. I thought it was knocked out, but couldn't find it in the grass. As she settled down I saw a little white in her mouth, so then assumed the tooth was broken. Dan left work and met us at the hospital and a nurse saw her right away and gave her some pain medication. After that the waiting game started (a common thing in hospitals, but especially where the care is free). About two hours later a dentist at the hospital looked in her mouth and said that the tooth was actually pushed partway back up into the gum (I didn't know that could happen), and he assumed it was still whole, but he wanted to do an x-ray to make sure. Since the x-ray machine in Aveiro was broken they wanted to send us to the pediatric hospital in Coimbra, an hour away. No problem, but we weren't allowed to drive her there (liability concerns). Instead it was more waiting. An hour later the ambulance was ready to take us. Only one of us was allowed in the ambulance, so Dan had to follow in the car. At the hospital in Coimbra we experienced the Portuguese specialty of "Oh, you have a the front of the line you go." So we saw a dentist very quickly there and the x-ray showed that the tooth is still whole. They told us they see this in toddlers daily, and it should come back down on its own over the next few months. So lots of trauma but it was okay in the end. Poor Dan had to hold her down for the x-ray while I had to stay outside of the room, due to my pregnancy, listening to her yell "mommy, mommy" as loud as she could. No fun for any of us.

So 7 hours later we made it home and were able to put our exhausted baby to sleep. The next day her upper lip and gums were pretty sore and swollen, but she looks normal now. Well, normal for a professional hockey player since when she smiles there's a tooth missing. She also shakes her head and says "no, no, no" whenever anyone approaches her that she thinks might have any interest in poking around in her mouth. Poor little thing. Anyway it was a happy ending to our first trip to the ER. And I must admit it was nice to simply walk out of the hospital at the end with no need to stop at the cashier's office and have to decide how on earth we'll manage to pay the bill. We spent $0 and zero minutes filling out paperwork which helped ease the trauma of an otherwise difficult day.

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