Children are a source of great joy. There really is no describing how great it feels when your golden-haired three year old throws both his arms around your neck and declares, "My love you SO much!" Then there are the moments when said fair-haired boy discovers a small plastic button on the floor at his sister's ballet lesson, then waits strategically for the moment of maximum chaos when her class lets out, and other kids are queuing up for their classes, and shoves said small button firmly up his left nostril where it gets stuck. I lost a crucial two seconds putting the baby down gently, and then I could no longer see the button and it wasn't in evidence on the floor.
It was not a happy scene. We were at the Boston Ballet's Marblehead Studio, which in housed in a YMCA. I asked if there was first aid in the building, and that resulted in them calling 911. Duncan was unhappy, but didn't seem to be having any trouble breathing. Of course I was worried about where the hell the button was, because I'd seen it in there, and had not seen it come out. The EMTs show up, shine a light up his nose, can't see it and can't do anything else for us at the scene. They offer to take us to the hospital in their ambulance. Here is where the needing to be the grown-up really starts to bite. While I remained mostly calm, I was very worried about where the heck that button was, and what sort of trouble it might cause inside of Duncan. The easy thing would have been to let the EMTs just do their thing and take care of us, but I not only needed to think of taking care of Duncan, I needed to think of logistics and expense. Most immediately I needed to remember the fact that Warren had just changed jobs, I have no card for the new insurance plan, and I the only thing I know is it's a high deductible plan. That means that the first $N we spend on health care comes out of our pockets, where N is not a low number. (Some plans are even $N per person, which is not good when you need to multiply that by 5.) A ride to the hospital in the ambulance would probably run over $1,000, plus whatever the emergency room charged, not to mention then I'd be one place and my car would be somewhere else. It's hard to say no to an EMT offering to take your small boy to the hospital Right Now, but that's what I did. Instead we got to spend three hours the nearest Harvard Vanguard urgent care office where I got to further weigh what I wanted to do balancing expected expenses against my realistic worries about where that button went.
Duncan appears to be OK. We ended up getting a couple of x-rays done to make sure it wasn't in his lungs or throat. We didn't see the button, but I have orders to bring him in right away if he develops a foul smelling discharge in the next two weeks. Let's hope that doesn't happen. The best case scenario was that it fell out and rolled away at some point and I didn't notice. It's also possible that he swallowed it, in which case he will poop it out. The only other thing that bears mentioning about is that I realized a bit belatedly that when the woman who did the x-rays kept going on about having the guy from the lab watch Margaret and Martin for me while I held Duncan in position for his x-rays, it was because she was mad at me for not having anyone else with me to help. I wish I'd realized in time to say something like, "Next time I'll be sure to schedule my medical emergency for a time when I have another adult with me." That being said, the Boston Ballet folks were great. Margaret's current and former teacher helped me, as well as a couple of the other parents there. They were fabulous in the immediate aftermath.
My new job starts in one week but I'm starting out as a contractor, which means that for the next few months at least we are stuck with the high deductible plan. I'm now feeling not the slightest bit guilty about asking for more money as a contractor. I'm really excited about the new job, but I get the feeling as a young company there are certain issues that haven't penetrated the culture, like the true value of good health insurance. One of the things that has stuck with me from my battle with infertility is knowing the effective value of a good health insurance plan: > $30k for us. I'll have to see what new employer actually offers for health insurance should they decide to make me a salaried employee. Old employer tried to get every one to switch to a high deductible plan, and I wanted no part of it. It seems like one of the consequences of the affordable care act is that more employers are moving to the high deductible plans, and as a parent with small children that makes me cranky.