One great thing about hospitals: they’re air conditioned. So, when I spent a few hours in an out-of-town hospital on holiday Monday with my rugby player son, I was desperate enough to get out of the heat that, all things considered, the experience wasn’t all bad.
Mind you, our trip to the emergency department was less of an “emergency” and more a due diligence type of visit. Halfway through a four-hour practice in 39-degree weather, and after a few crushing tackles with a rugby ball for a cushion, my rugby player was unwell. It’s hard to get the wind knocked out of you when there is literally no wind to breathe in. Brutal heat. An elevated heart rate and chest pains sidelined him. When he didn’t improve, we were ER bound.
I wasn’t worried. I knew he was okay by how he passed my litmus test. I suggested he quit his rugby dreams for lawn bowling, an affordable, non-contact sport close to home. (It’s harder than it looks too). He smirked. That’s a pass. Plus, there was no blood, vomit or broken limbs evident. To be clear, I am not the parent for any of those things. I am too queasy for that drama. If everything inside the body is still inside the body, I can handle it. Once it pops out, flies out or escapes, consider me out.
Mother’s guilt crept in. I thought I had all the right provisions to keep my athlete and I hydrated: a cooler stocked with frozen towels, jugs of water, fresh fruit and some of those electrolyte drinks. But the heat got me too. I sat on the hot bleachers, under the glare of the sun, lathered in sunscreen and wearing my super stylish straw hat (think: mid-life Anne of Green Gables, only less adorable) under the shade of my cute kitten umbrella. Nothing says I raised a rough and rugged rugby player like a kitten umbrella. Wait a minute. Maybe my rugby player wasn’t sick. Maybe he was just embarrassed by his mother. Makes sense.
He and I share a fear of hospitals, doctors and anything that makes us squeamish, but also a humour that comes out in appropriate ways at equally inappropriate times. Dehydrated, sun wary and now hungry, this was one of those times. I’ve never enjoyed a hospital so much. We made a good time out of our phobias. It got even better when the doctor insisted on X-rays. As we sat in the waiting area, my son looked anxious. I assured him they were only checking to see if his ribs pierced his heart, (not funny, but funny). Besides he didn’t need to be afraid of a little radiation-based image. It was the other stuff they were going to do to him that ought to inspire fear. Two words: spinal tap. Glove test. Rectal scope. Big needle. Turn and cough (three words, but amusing). One word: colonoscopy. His eyes got wide. It was cruel but deeply satisfying to freak him out. Just as I was about to explain what a gynecologist appointment involves, the X-ray technician called his name. He leapt out of the chair, never so grateful in his life.
But the funniest moment by far was the look on his face when the doctor called his case a football injury. Football? Talk about adding insult to injury. Prognosis? He is a rugby player, alright. He’ll heal just fine. And for that, I’m grateful.