ON MY MIND: Fear changes everything

On My Mind | Maureen Burns

Fear changes everything. You are going about your day when BAM! Something unexpected happens. You didn’t plan for it. You don’t have time for it. And yet it takes over. Everything you thought you would be doing stops and is put on a back burner. You decide you need to go to the emergency room.

My husband and our young friend were power washing our deck. Before they could even realize what hit them, they were both stung by bees. Nasty, mean, ticked off bees.

Immediately our friend told us he was allergic to bees. Oh, heck no. This was not what we wanted to hear. We all panicked. We reached his parents. His dad came home from work and so our friend left to go home and take care of his sting. Luckily, it didn’t go into an allergic reaction for him.

My husband, who is not allergic to bees, didn’t fare so well.

You know how we know the names of the different parts of our bodies? Well, I realized we don’t really know all the parts. He got stung on that part of the face that holds the mustache. What do they call that sucker? No one I have talked to knows. We certainly did not.

What we did know was he got stung right below his nostrils in the center of that place — whatever it is called. Later someone told us it is a big ole nerve center and that is why it reacted so nastily. What it did was swell up huge. He looked like a platypus. Well, I don’t really know what a platypus looks like but I’m sure my smart grandsons do. Anyway, that is what I thought he must look like. The whole upper “thing” swelled about an inch, it seemed. He began to feel not so good. He laid down.

Quite soon his cheeks and neck began to swell and swell and then he looked like — I don’t even know. He looked bad, for sure. We kept calling our nurse friend and finally she told us to go to the emergency room.

The last time I had been at the emergency room at Spectrum Health United Hospital was for the ribbon cutting celebration. Lots of people were there. Lots of special tours, special food, people all over showing you this and that and everyone full of “wow.” It was a joyous affair, but quite far from the experience of going there out of pain and fear.

Here was our experience when we went in pain and fear. We walked in to a smiling and extremely helpful staff. The whole area was fabulous. Everyone was kind, caring and efficient. Although the waiting room was full of people, it seemed like we only waited a short while. They carefully took care of my husband and got him on his way. Our time there was about three hours yet we never felt unattended. It just took that long to do what needed to be done.

I couldn’t help evaluating the facility, the staff, the procedures – and I couldn’t find anything that wasn’t wonderful. Having been to the old emergency room many, many times (we did raise four children here, don’t you know), the change is like night and day. We are so very fortunate to have this hospital and this emergency room at our finger tips.

Not long ago my husband had knee surgery. The Grand Rapids specialist came to Greenville to see him. When she asked him where he wanted to have his surgery, she suggested that Greenville was the nicest facility to work in. This is definitely something for us to think about and be proud of and happy for.

In the past year, our emergency room saw about 29,000 people. Our county has a total population of 63,000. Whew!

Of these 29,000 visits, 2,300 of them resulted in hospital stays. More than 7,000 were pediatric patients.

Each nurse is trained in advance cardiac life support and has advance certification in pediatrics. They know what they’re doing. The physicians are the same group that staff Butterworth, Blodgett, Gerber and Zeeland hospitals. They are well trained in trauma, pediatric care and general emergency needs.

The busiest day of the week is … you guess!

It’s Monday. The least busy day is Thursday. Just a fun statistic.

They do a special thing there. Perhaps they do this other places, too. I just know they do it here. They give each child who comes for care a teddy bear. The Young Professionals have taken this on as their project. It is amazing how a child is comforted by a teddy bear and the kindness that comes with it. Last year more than 2,000 teddy bears were given to children.

There are always two sides to everything. After being at the ground breaking and then the ribbon cutting for the new emergency room, it was full circle to use it as a patient. We are grateful our reason was relatively minor. We are also very grateful to have this gem in our community. Hats off to everyone who has made this happen and to everyone who continues to make it happen on a daily basis.

Let me close with a crazy quote by Erma Bombeck, “Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died.” OK, just one more. The comedian, Redd Foxx, said, “Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.” And, there you go!

Maureen Burns, a Greenville resident, is a professional speaker and author. Her e-mail address is maureenburns@maureenburns.com.

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