Dire Conditions

It was about 7:40PM when Kathleen hopped off the couch and told her mom that the skin over her Achilles tendon hurt. Jennifer took one look and yelled to me: “Kevin, come here and look at this.” On the back of Kathleen’s leg was a translucent blister about a little less than a centimeter wide with a red skin all around it. Kathleen started to cry. We got a flashlight to see the area better, and further inspection revealed another blister on the side of her leg about half way between the foot and the knee. By this time, Kathleen was screaming about the pain.

Kathleen had been sitting on the love seat covered with a blanket watching TV just before this all started. Jennifer has a friend who recently suffered a Brown Recluse Spider bite that produced a very similar blister.  I asked Kathleen if she had felt anything bite her. If she had felt a prick or anything. She said “No.”

Despite this, I moved over to the couch and started dismantling it, looking to see if I could find a spider or any other insect that could have bitten her. I found nothing. But now Kathleen was writhing on the ground in pain, so I grabbed my keys and my wallet and told her we were going to take a drive. Lucy came out and gave Kathleen her fuzziest stuffed elephant to take.

There is an urgent care facility just a few blocks from our house, I rushed us out to try to get there before 8:00 in case they were open till then. But when we arrived, the lights were off. I took a quick U-turn and headed for the University of Missouri Hospital ER.

This was not comforting to Kathleen, who now was weeping openly into the stuffed elephant’s fluffy ears.

Kathleen: “I’ve never been to a hospital.”

Me: “That’s not true. You were born at a hospital.”

Kathleen, through her tears: “Not helpful dad. Hospitals are scary.”

Me: “There is nothing scary about a hospital.”

Kathleen: “A hospital is where you go if your arm is falling off.”

Me: “True, but you are confusing the order. You go to the hospital because your arm is falling off. Your arm does not fall off because you went to the hospital. Really, the ER is just like Urgent Care. You’ll see.”

To fill time, I started to ask Kathleen questions that I figured the Doctor would eventually ask:

Me: “Is the pain sharp or dull?”

Kathleen: “Sharp. I wouldn’t be screaming if it were a dull pain.”

Me: “On a scale of 1-10, how much pain do you have?”

Kathleen: “10”

Me: “Really? The worst pain you have ever had or could imagine?

Kathleen: “No. Ok, 8. It’s not as bad as when I cut both of my knees.” (Kathleen once skinned her knees when she fell off her scooter in front of our house. It was apparently REALLY traumatic.)

We pulled up in front of the ER and I rushed her inside. We checked her in and got our seats in the waiting room. Kathleen’s crying now subsided as she looked around and realized that the ER was not in fact a torture chamber, but looked very much like any other doctor’s office we have been in.

“Kathleen” the nurse called. We went back, got vitals checked and got situated in our room. I let Kathleen field the nurse’s questions. She seemed quite relaxed now, almost as if she were not in pain at all. But she still reported to the nurse that she was around a 6 for pain. It was going down, she said.

The nurse left us for a while, during which time Kathleen borrowed my phone to play a game on it. She was acting remarkably chipper.

The doctor knocked and entered the room. I explained the situation as best I could, trying to convey the urgency that my daughter’s current affect no longer indicated. The doctor looked at me and said: “Mmm hmmm.”

Turning to my daughter, the doctor looked at the two blisters. Then she asked Kathleen about the one up on her leg. “Oh,” Kathleen replied, “I noticed that about two weeks ago. I didn’t think it was important. I figured it was a bug bite.”

I swear I could hear the doctor judging me in her head at this point.

“And what about the one on the back of your foot?” the doctor asked?

Kathleen: “I wore my high-tops today to day camp. I could feel them rubbing there all day. That is what caused the blister.”

I joke you not. That is exactly what she said. No doubt in her mind. No thought that it could have been a spider or anything else. Just nonchalant: “Oh yea, that was because of my shoes.”

The doctor asked me if I wanted the hospital to administer aspirin. Defeated, I said no. We left with a two hundred dollar set of instructions for caring for a blister.

On the way home, Kathleen suggested that her foot probably hurt too bad to go back to day-camp the next day. I told her that I would never be in a better position to know that she was in no danger. We had paid a great deal to find out (from her) that she just had a blister and removing her high-tops would solve the problem.

Postscript: I texted the conclusion of our night adventure to my wife, letting her know that our daughter was safe. Jennifer texted back: “Can we kill her?”

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