crossposted at BlogHer.com
There I was, knee-deep in my element. Answering work e-mails, editing posts, watching whitehouse.gov‘s live stream of the Health Care Summit at Blair House. I was screaming at my screen, tweet cheering the Dems and tweet jeering the GOP … sitting in my pjs, loving life.
Then the phone rang.
Mrs. Vest this is N, the school nurse. Your son is in my office with an abnormal bloody nose, can you come right away?
The rest is kind of a blur. The kind of blur a parent gets when you get a call you don’t exactly understand but know your child needs you NOW.
My first reaction was to grab my wallet and keys and run, and then I realized I wasn’t dressed. I threw on clothes while thinking
wait … why am I rushing to school for a bloody nose?
did she say clots?
Clothes on, I grabbed my wallet and keys, typed an incoherent message to my work colleagues (I think it said something like “school called bloody nose clots jack running”) and bolted out the door.
I called my husband on the way, said I would call when I knew more, and then maybe broke several laws driving from my street to my son’s school — which I have now deemed too far away.
I might have passed a California Highway Patrol cruiser along the way, and I might have been a)on the phone and b)driving like a bat out of hell and c)thinking “Fucking Chase Me Copper — I’ll pull into the school parking lot, and you can ticket me as I run to my kid.” I swear to you I made eye contact with the officer behind the wheel, and it was the “I’m a mom on a MISSION DO NOT MESS WITH ME IN THIS MINIVAN” look. It worked. I blew past him, and he stayed right there putzing along while the drivers around me were clearly doing the “OMG is that woman insane there is a COP RIGHT THERE” thing.
I parked at the school and then did the run/walk but don’t really run walky thing to the door thinking the entire time “calm down, she said bloody nose … but what nurse calls for a bloody nose???”
And there was my boy. Ice pack on face and blood everywhere.
He seemed OK. He was chatty as hell about his day. The nurse and teacher told me of the students finding him bleeding all over his sandwich at lunch, he didn’t say he hit his head. But there were clots and blood from both nostrils, from his mouth — it was so overwhelming.
Decisions were made and off we went to lay on the couch for the day. Thinking he had a bad bloody nose and wanting him to at least be cleaned up, it seemed sane to just bring him home.
Except a funny thing happened on the way to our house. Upon reliving his harrowing tale of bloody nose horror … my first grader’s speech began to slur.
Without even contemplating I put on my left blinker, darted across two lanes, and headed straight for the local ER. I kept talking to him. He kept drifting in and out of making sense. He was telling me now he did bump heads with someone. But his story kept changing. He was confused.
My heart racing, I drove the mile to our local hospital — it seemed like 20 — and my questions to the backseat were resulting in answers like “soffa hitta hwead.”
Left turn signal. Lane change. Park. Carry child into ER. Again the look in my eyes paid off and my quick explanation and fast signature had us back and in a bed in under five minutes. The doctor was there not two minutes later.
Eyes OK. Nose OK. CAT scan shows no bleeding. No fracture. Diagnosis = concussion.
Now here’s where I finally exhale. Not entirely, mind you. But I exhale, and I look around. Now I am actually capable of looking around.
It turns out this place is filled with people and doctors and nurses and moaning and IVs and hustle and bustle. Things you don’t see until you exhale.
Two beds down I see two Sheriff’s deputies and someone obviously in custody. Across from us, a mother and two sons. Directly to our left I hear broken English and understand enough Spanish to know a dog bit a girl and she was crying telling her mother she shouldn’t have played with the puppy without asking their neighbor first.
Then came the woman with the clipboard. Like they always do. First to my son and me. I hand over our insurance information and card, explain that I am the primary card holder, not my husband (that annoys me every damn time), and she moves to the curtain next to us.
No tengo seguro médico.
Then the next.
Nah, this gangbanger doesn’t have insurance. I bet you he doesn’t even have a real job. Hahahahaha
Then the next.
Well, I think my ex-husband might still have the boys under his insurance but he lost his job, so I’m not sure. Can I just put down his name and number?
Then to the next.
Nah, I ain’t got no insurance. I lost that when I lost my benefits, and I’m still waiting on my VA paperwork. I ain’t got no VA paperwork yet but the lady down there said she’d get it to me soon.
There we sat in the “Fast Track” area of the typical American emergency room, and I was the only one with insurance coverage.
Not an hour or two before, I was actually enjoying and cheering and jeering the political theater in Washington. I sat at my desk from 7 a.m. until the phone call I got at lunch, engrossed in every word coming out of every politician’s mouth sitting at that summit.
How they would do it. How they want to do it. Which way they should do it. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Who’s been wronged? All the talk of costs and deficits and government control. The talking and talking and talking that from one room in D.C. seemed entirely out of place in this California ER.
But at least for me, sitting in that ER, health care in America — and the battle over reform — was very clear. There were no questions. Criminals and children were being treated, and bills would come due. And there I was, on the edge of my son’s bed, the only one with insurance. THE ONLY ONE.
I missed the remainder of the health care summit to be with my son in that emergency room. I’m glad I missed whatever discussion was had. Because I was sitting there in the middle of the answer, in the middle of an ER, in the middle of a crisis that MUST be fixed.
As the only one WITH insurance today as those beds were strewn with dog bites and rashes and knife wounds and heart attacks, and yes, concussions … as the ONLY ONE with the privilege of having the means to have an insurance company pick up part of today’s bill — I said loudly and I said clearly for those in that room with me: Shut Up, Washington.
I am not any more privileged than the girl in the bed next to me or the family across from us or that alleged criminal two beds down. This isn’t a political game. This isn’t what I earned.
This is a right that any civilized society provides its people. ALL of its people, not just those with money and not just those lucky enough to have a job in this economy. ALL of its people.
The bill is due, Blair House participants. Either you can pay in political gains and losses or we can pay in our lives, our homes, and our dignity. As the president said today before I ran out of my house in a panic, “I hope we have the courage to make some of these changes,” and then he called out everyone in that summit for not having the guts to do it.
It’s gut-check time.
Get it done. And get it done now.
Actual Progressive Summit Coverage Can Be Found:
AND FOR THE OTHER SIDE:
Contributing Editor Erin Kotecki Vest also blogs at Queen of Spain Blog and is monitoring her son for the next 24-hours and hopes to NOT land back in that ER anytime soon.
Politics & News Contributing Editor Erin Kotecki Vest