Friday night at Patient First—just what our preschooler ordered


Just as I was wrapping up my work for the day, the phone rang.

It was Daniel’s preschool teacher.

He had fallen off of a chair and hit his head hard on the tile floor. He had a big bump and was crying. She sounded worried.

I was at the school within 10 minutes, holding Daniel in my arms.

I am no medical expert, so I was relying on the teachers to help me understand how serious it was.

“How is he?” I asked.

“We started asking him questions as soon as he stopped crying,” said one teacher. “We knew he was probably OK when we asked him his name, and he said, “I’m Aquaman.”

Well, that’s a good sign, I thought. He has been “Aquaman” all week.

Still, he had this enormous lump on the back of his head. And all I could remember was that to check for concussion you’re supposed to look to see how dilated his eyes are—but I didn’t trust my judgment. And I tried to picture us putting him in bed for the night, wondering if he was all right.

So off we went to Patient First. I imagined the waiting room would be full of people who were ill with the flu or one of the many other current plagues I keep hearing about.

Miraculously, the waiting room was empty, and a nurse greeted us almost immediately.

She took our son’s temperature and then pulled out her stethoscope. And Daniel—who just saw his pediatrician a few days ago—lit up.

He leaned in and smiled into her face. “You have a heart?” he asked.

She smiled and said, “Ssssh. I’m listening to your heart.”

“Sssh, Mama,” he told me, grinning, with his finger to his lips.

“You are just so cute,” said the nurse.

“You so cute, too!” Daniel replied.

The nurse laughed. “You just made my day,” she said.

By this point I knew he was fine. But we were committed, so we stayed.

Meanwhile, Daniel had the time of his life. He got to use two stethoscopes, showed off his Ravens jersey, flirted with anyone who smiled his way, figured out how the automated antibacterial goo dispensers worked, and collected a superhero sticker.

By the end of our visit, I was certain my spry, chatty son was the healthiest person in the whole place—including the members of the staff.

As we walked out the door and toward our car, Daniel turned to me and said, “Go there again someday?”

“Yes, we will,” I said. And I’m confident of that. John and I made it through three years of parenthood before our first emergency doctor’s visit, but I have no doubt we’ll be back.

But—unlike my 3-year-old son—I am in no hurry.


Catholic Review

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