- Belling, Catherine
- Date of entry: Dec-21-1999
A two-year-old girl is brought to the Emergency Room. Her father believes there's nothing wrong with her, but the mother says that earlier the child had looked "blank," and is sure there's a problem. The physician tries to work out what might be wrong.
The child seems fine, but he automatically looks for signs of abuse, and the triage nurse suggests the parents, who are African-American and on Medicaid, are there because they want "something for free" (127). There are other patients waiting, the child's vital signs are fine, the father wants to leave.
As the doctor is leaving the examining room, he asks whether she might have taken someone's medication, and the mother mentions that the child's grandmother takes "sugar pills," hypoglycemics. They test the child's blood sugar and it is dangerously low. She is admitted to the hospital.
The physician tells the mother she has saved her child's life, and then considers how lucky they had all been--"I felt sick, cold, and damp, terrified by what I had almost missed" (131). He says that since then, he often thinks of the child, "alive in the world, going out into it, . . . decade after decade ahead."
The Blood of Strangers: Stories from Emergency Medicine
Univ. of California Press