I was working in a closet filled with network hardware and cables when my cell phone vibrated on my hip. I answered and heard my 8 year old daughter say, “Daddy, Mommy fell and is bleeding on her head.”
“Is she okay? How bad is she bleeding, Sweetie?” I ran to the stairs.
“Sissy is holding a towel on her head.” I’m running down the stairs.
“Is she awake? Is she talking?”
“Yes, but she’s not saying much. She’s crying and laying on the floor.”
“I’ll be there in just a minute.”
I flew low through the the little town knowing I can be home before an ambulance can get there.
When I got home she was still on the floor and stunned from the blow she received in the fall. The girls had done a great job with first aid.
When we arrived at the ER, I parked and helped her out. A nurse saw her bloody face and the way she was holding her hand and took her straight to an exam room. I followed. The nurse stopped me as I entered the room and asked me to wait out of the room. A doctor walked in as I was stepping out wondering why our two daughters (8 and 11 at the time) were allowed to stay. That didn’t make sense.
I watched from the hallway as the doctor started cleaning around my wife’s eye. The nurse kept turning to look at me. My wife had a laceration just below her eyebrow from her shattered eye glasses that would require stitches. I decided to go in anyway and hold her hand.
As I entered the exam room from my side, a security guard walked into the room through a doorway on the opposite side. “Sir, step into the hallway,” he directed as he pointed to the open doorway behind me that I had just entered.
He walked across the room toward me and followed me into the hall. Just as I started to ask what on earth was going on, I heard the doctor ask my wife, “Do you take any medications?”
Reclined on the exam table, she started the list, “I take Copaxone, Aricept, Neurontin …”
He interrupted, “Do you have MS?”
He looked up from his work on her face, nodded his head in my direction and said to the guard, “He can stay.”
I held her hand as he did the small stitches above her eye and wrapped her broken finger.
My wife and I talked about the odd way the ER staff had treated me and why they allowed the girls in the exam room but sent a security guard to babysit me in the hallway. As we talked I realized what they were doing.
ER doctors see domestic violence enough that they’re suspicious when a man brings his wife to the ER with what looks like a solid punch to the eye and broken fingers. They were concerned it was a case of domestic violence. It wasn’t until she started listing her medications for him that the doctor learned she had MS.
It’s sad they are necessary, but I’m glad the ER staff have procedures in place to deal with domestic violence. And I felt odd afterwards realizing I had been a suspect for a brief period. I also imagine that if I had ignored the requests to leave the exam room, the guard might have cuffed me in the waiting room.
Caregiver Tip: Cooperate with medical staff when they are initially suspicious about injuries that occur in falls. The precautions and procedures of the emergency room exist for reasons that may be unrelated to your caregiving situation.