Today was one of those days when my role as Mom and my training as a doctor intersect. My son hurt his foot playing soccer last night and by this morning I knew it was going to take an x-ray to assess the damage. Of course that meant a trip to the military emergency room. Anyone who has dealt with military medicine knows that you approach a situation like this with your guard up. (Anyone who favors a government run health system needs to talk to military dependents) The system is overwhelmed so by necessity it is looking for corners to cut. As a patient, you don’t want to be that corner.
After a considerable wait the triage nurse evaluated my son. Figuring he needed an x-ray, he started to type in the order. “Would you also order an x-ray of his uninjured foot for a comparison view?” I asked hopefully. He gave me this very quizzical look. I explained, “I am a doctor and have worked in emergency rooms for many years. This sort of foot injury in children is difficult to evaluate without a comparison view because the growth plates can be difficult to distinguish from fractures.” He then explained that his triage protocol did not allow him to order the comparison view. However, I guess I convinced him it might be a good idea since he took us right back to a room so a doctor could take a look at my son and make the call on what x-rays were needed. Soon we were off to radiology with orders for x-rays of both feet.
We waited. And waited. And waited. My son was x-rayed and we went back to the exam room. And waited. And waited. And waited. The doctor returned with the good news that the bones looked great. The radiologist was happy a comparison view had been ordered. My son just needed a firm bottomed “cast shoe” until the soft tissue injury healed. We waited for the technician to bring us the shoe and our discharge papers. And waited. And waited. Of course they didn’t have a cast shoe in my son’s size so we tried to make do with what they had. It actually caused his foot to hurt more so I told him to just switch back to his supportive running shoe. All in all it was a six-hour adventure to find out that the bones were okay and time would heal his wound. We were tired and hungry, but very grateful that the injury was minimal and should heal quickly. A crimp was put in my plans for grocery shopping and cookie baking, but I will catch up tomorrow. I have to fight the tendency to get all bent out of shape when my agenda is interrupted. I have to remember that my to-do list is just a suggestion. Divine Providence makes the final schedule.