Surviving the Emergency Room

Micah Jeub juggling

Micah makes toy swords out of scrap lumber. Sending planks of wood through the table saw out in the shed is a common practice for him, something he has done dozens of times. On Tuesday, as the blade was winding down after cutting a half-dozen new toy swords, one of his newly cut boards fell off the table. He reached for it and whack, the saw sliced half way through his left-hand middle finger.

Wendy and I were sitting in the living room. We were in the middle of a discussion of some organizing we wanted to do with our bookshelves after lunch. The galloping across our back deck with a frantic “Mom, mom, mom!” was clear to our ears: something was seriously wrong.

There was no bleeding, just his finger split wide open and exposing a small bone fragment. We rushed his hand under cold faucet water as we both yelled emergency orders to ready children. “Lydia, get the medical tape from the bathroom!” “Isaiah, get the first-aid kit from downstairs!” “Noah, make sure the saw is off!” It’s nice having so many kids, and they all snapped into emergency mode. Wendy and I assessed the situation. No doubt about it. Today’s plans changed. Today was going to be ER day.

Within a few minutes, the three of us were heading for the car. Micah was not in too much pain, sort of in shock, and I had to hold him tightly to make sure he wouldn’t faint. Wendy sat with Micah in the back seat, I drove — fast. We sped to the emergency room, but we clunked along a bit. There were some obstacles that we ran into, and I wish we would have had these thought out first.

1. Where to go?

We didn’t know exactly where to go. There is a new UrgentCare in Monument, but it is a limited facility. We went there first. I ran in and explained the situation. “Bring him in,” they said, “but if it requires surgery, we’ll have to send them down to Colorado Springs.” I opted out of that hoop and took him straight to Colorado Springs, and the local people agreed that that was a good idea. Wasted 15-20 minutes. Lesson learned: Know the limitations of the local hospitals and clinics.

2. Security.

We’re small-town people, I guess, because we didn’t expect a security guard at the ER. With Micah’s hand wrapped in a bloody towel, Wendy helped empty his pockets of all metal objects. Two pocket knives, a utility blade, and a screwdriver bit dropped into the tray. Needless to say, this raised the eyebrows of the security guards and stalled us a bit. Wendy and I had to go through the system, too. Just a few minutes of time wasted, but we probably would have gone through faster if the weapons didn’t end up flagging us.

3. Know your story.

Practitioners and doctors are almost like detectives; they first want to reconstruct what exactly happened. What you tell them will help them treat you. We didn’t answer, “Micah was making swords.” The injury would have been viewed much differently. Instead, “He cut himself on a table saw when the saw was winding down.” Much more accurate as it pertained to the injury, and it explained the laceration they were viewing.

4. Have your insurance information with you

Bringing your card should be just as important as your car keys. Forgetting it won’t deter your treatment, but will certainly frustrate the process. Even if you don’t have insurance, be ready with the standard answer, “self-pay,” to help speed along the process. Wendy and I are working on a larger post about our personal payment options, so more on that later.

5. Expect down time, and enjoy it!

Micah was sped to a check-in room, then walked to an ER room, vitals were checked, etc. In the middle of a weekday, medical students were on deck, so at least a dozen practitioners and students gawked over Micah’s wound before the doctor got there. It was comic relief, really. “Whoa! Check that out! Cool!” were encouraging words to a 14-year-old boy in pain. I suppose we could have grown irritated with it, but we welcomed it instead. There were other times when no one was there and we were waiting. We spent time talking, praying and joking together. “Did you see the look on that security guard’s face?” Laughing helped ease the anxiety.

6. Be insistent, but also understanding

We’ve had bad ER experiences in the past, so Wendy and I tend to be skeptical of the advice from the practitioners and even the doctors. That said, understand that everyone is there to help the wounded. Case in point: the time came to refer Micah to a specialist. We were told that would be the next day. I pressed a bit, “But shouldn’t it be today? I mean, this is serious!” One nurse called the specialist directly (very thoughtful!) and tried to get him in, but the doctor was already in surgery and would not be available that day. Understood. We went home with pain meds and a cleaned/bandaged hand.

All this considered, it was one of our best ER experiences. We saw the specialist yesterday. One of Micah’s two nerves in his finger was severed. (If you get into gory wounds, you will enjoy this picture, taken after the specialist removed a bone fragment from the finger.) Micah will undergo operation today to reconstruct the nerve and sew up the finger. Looks like 6-12 months of healing before he’s back to normal.

Your prayers are appreciated! Wendy and I are working on another post on how we’ll be paying for the medical bill. When it’s all said and done, it’ll be about $10,000. For starters, Micah has put his six swords up for sale for $1,750 each. Any takers?

About Chris Jeub

Chris is the father of 16 children, busily running the family businesses and learning the depths of love along the way.

  • Savannah

    Scary. Praying for a quicker than expected recovery!

  • Savannah

    Scary. Praying for a quicker than expected recovery!

  • Teresa Carstens

    Very happy to hear this had a happy ending.

  • Janetkiessling

    hey Jeub Family thank you for the update. Really wished the ‘picture’ link had worked – we have a 13 yr old who would love to use his dad’s saw & I was going to use your story as a little ‘please – be careful’ of this might happen to you tutorial!! Micah, we are praying for a speedy recovery! HUGS – the kiessling family

  • Lori B

    I got a real giggle out of the message I got when I tried the picture “Whoops! Something broke. Please try again!”    Yes, his finger!  
    In all seriousness, I am praying for his surgery today and for the surgeons.  Full recovery Lord and a testimony for your glory.

    • Chris Jeub

      That was funny! I’m not sure why the picture didn’t work, but it does now.

  • Jennifer Mull

    Your suggestions made perfect sense to me… I did get a little bit of a chuckle picturing you and Wendy and Micah emptying your pockets of your various “weapons.” LOL! Once, my 3rd son, when he was 6yo, fell and split his eyebrow open at 10:00pm… yeah, he should’ve been in bed! My husband was out of town, so I had to drive him to the ER with all my kids (five of them aged 12 down to 18mons) in bad weather (snowing!) The staff was very impressed with how well my 12yo and 10yo managed the other kids while I sat with the 18mon and my son who received stitches.

    Every so often, while we sat and waited a nurse or a dr, lab tech, etc. came in and said, “Wow, what happened to you!” And, each time my son explained that he was playing with his brother and fell. Finally, he looked at me and said, “Mom, I know why they all want to know what happened to me…. it’s because I’m a little kid, and they all feel sorry for me……..” Yeah, I thought…. and they are also checking our story…. Thankfully, he kept it straight everytime. :-) LOL!

    I did learn something else…. walking into a very full ER with five young kids at 10:30pm can actually get you moved up the triage list… LOL… they took care of us quick and we were home (which was 45min. away) by 12:30am! (Of course, that could backfire and I wouldn’t count on it it! LOL!)

  • Chris Jeub

    I’m at the hospital with Micah. Surgery went fantastic. Micah’s awake cracking jokes and should be discharged shortly.

    I got that picture link fixed too. Not sure why it didn’t work before, but here it is:

  • Denise

    Poor thing! I know how he feels almost. About 15 years ago I accidentally put my right hand thru a plate glass door pane when I tried to shut it and my hand slipped. I wound up with 13 stitches in my wrist and the dr having to replace part of my vein. I have a really cool scar that if Micah wants to see, I can post a photo for him on Facebook. Glad that the surgery went well for him though. ☺♥

  • Esargent0307

    Please tell him that Sammy Sargent says, “Oh, OW!”  And, he’s going to be praying for him.
    And Mom and Dad are praying for your bills to be taken care of…

    • Chris Jeub

      Will do, Sammy! Tell your folks hi, and let them know that you would love one of these swords for Christmas. 😉

  • MamaTLC

    My son has significant health issues.  We, unfortunately, have been to the ER way too many times this year.  It is an interesting experience to go through security with my son.  He has his pockets full of 2-5 lbs. of chain maille, rings and several types of pliers.   He enjoys working on his projects any moment he can.

    I have a medical three ring binder.  This binder has information on each child tucked into plastic page protectors plus any extra medical information needed (Dr.’s and protocol’s).  I also have copies of the insurance information.  In an emergency I just have to grab the medical binder and go.  My son’s health issues are lengthy so having it all written out and being able to hand it to the nurse makes for an easier time for me.  I don’t have to recount every detail to everyone.  I just hand them the page protector with the information.  At one point, I had to laminate the ER protocol because we were in there so often.  Using the page protectors or laminating the pages allowed for the ER to make copies and protected the medical information so it could be put back in it’s place in the binder.

    For us, I will tell the admit person, the tech and the nurse very little as I do not want to repeat the story of why we are there, my son’s lengthy medical history and what needs to happen.  I am able to say nicely, “I will talk with the Dr.” or if I am up-to-date in the medical binder I will just hand the nurse the papers they will need so I am not repeating myself.  Repeating myself makes me frustrated so having this info. written up and handy has been a relief.  I am able to attend to my son while they read the pages I have provided.  If they need to know more, I am happy to answer any questions.

    This reminds me… new info. needs to be added to the binder so I am needing to get my children’s info. updated.

    • Chris Jeub

      Fantastic ideas! Your son sounds like Micah (minus the health issues). They’d probably have a ball together…and enjoy getting hurt a lot.

      • MamaTLC

        I am sure they would have a great time together.  John would really enjoy learning to make the swords.  Would love to get together sometime.  :o)

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  • trooppetrie

    two years ago my husband was bit by a spider, within days we found he needed to be admitted to the hospital through the ER, I was shocked to be told to empty my pockets, it seemed so weird.  My last blessing was a preemie with on going issues. i learned to see every hospital visit and doctors appointment as a time to just be with her or a couple of children, get caught up on a new book with them.

    • Jennifer Mull

      I have to say….. before this article, I had no idea that hospitals now made you go through security procedures to admit patients to the ER. That WOULD be weird! It has been about 3 yrs. since I’ve had to take a child to the ER, but I took a friend who became ill while we were out for dinner just last year, and we did not have such security measures in place then.

    • Chris Jeub

      You know, you bring up a very good point. I felt the same thing yesterday. The emergency knocked me off my work week, but the time chillin’ with Micah was invaluable.

  • Sarah McGraw

    Well, we’d normally pour cayenne pepper powder into a wound… but I think that one needs medical attention.  Yikes!

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  • Stephtheis

    I took my 7 year old, Zeke, to the ER once because another child had whacked him right in the eye with a drum stick while playing drums.  As I recounted my story at the ER, I omitted the part about playing drums and simply said, “He was hit in the eye with a drum stick.”  I became baffled when the staff would ask quizzically, “What kind of drumstick?”  I wondered how many different types of drum sticks there are. Finally one staff person laughed and said, “Oh, I was thinking like a chicken leg or something.”  Hahaha…it was SO funny.  Yes, knowing your story ahead of time is very important!

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