Trips to the emergency room

Dennis Warden

Growing up in small town USA life was relatively boring for my parents where I was concerned. Mom and dad were only required to take me to the local physician twice after hours and only one of those instances was I sent to the emergency room.

Three trips to the emergency room was the magic number for our three children. Twice for Abby, once for Jacob and zero for Ethan. So Connie and I consider ourselves lucky in that area also.

As a youngster I spent most of my time exploring the town on my bike and on foot with my dog King. I stayed out of trouble and out of the doctor’s office. After I entered high school things were a little different. Let’s just say angels were watching over me.

My first after hours trip to Doc Brenner’s basement office on Peters Street happened when I was six or seven years old. It was an easy mistake that could have happened to anyone my age. It just happened to me.

The incident occurred at my great-grandparents’ house. I don’t remember much. What I do remember is falling through the glass on their mill finish aluminum storm door. These doors were popular in the fifties and sixties. They were there to help keep out the cold air in the winter. In the summer the glass was replaced by a screen to promote a cross-breeze. 

The aluminum frame was divided into three sections top to bottom. The top and middle sections were glass, the bottom was aluminum. 

That first accident resulted in several stitches and a candy cane scar on my right arm. After that grandma and grandpa Mertle placed a decorative scroll on the middle section of the door.

Abby’s first brush with the emergency room also involved aluminum. She couldn’t have been more the three-years-old. Ethan would have been around six and playing tee-ball. I saw the episode from our kitchen window. He was practicing hitting a ball with an aluminum baseball bat from a tee when Abby walked up behind him. The bat hit Abby on her chin. 

Connie and I grabbed Abby in our arms and ran across the street to our neighbor, Dr. Joyce Reed. Stitches were required. Because the injury was to her face we made a trip to the emergency room. Her scar only lasted a short time.

I waited until the fall of my junior year in high school before my next after hours visit to Doc Brenner. My group of friends met at a house to watch one of the two annual games between the St. Louis Cardinals and the dreaded Dallas Cowboys. 

Some of us were Cardinal fans — Ricky and I, the other half rooted for the Cowboys — Ray and Steve. During halftime we decided to play a friendly game of touch football in Steve’s yard.

I don’t remember what happened next. I’ve been told that there was a fumble and as I backed up to retrieve the ball I went over a retaining wall landing on my head. Doc Brenner took one look at me and told my parents I needed to go to the emergency room.

Dad drove us to St. Mary’s in Jefferson City. The whole way mom kept asking me questions like, where do you live, and how old are you. I just wanted to listen to the football game. A sure sign of a concussion — I threw up what we had consumed during the football game, frozen pizza and a beverage produced in St Louis. It was several years before I could stomach those items again.

One thing I remember, the Cardinals won. 

As coincidence would have it, Abby’s second injury was also to her head during her senior year in high school. For a little background, starting when she at six Abby was an acrobat gymnast. She had been doing “round off backhand spring back flips” since she was in middle school.

During a run through for her senior recital she slipped on her back flip and landed on her head. Connie and I did not witness it. We were at another function. We did beat the ambulance to Capital Region Hospital in Jefferson City.

The ambulance personnel did everything by the book including a neck brace for her, something I never had. Fortunately the tests showed Abby was not injured. She was back to the gym in time to watch the end of the recital.

Jacob’s lone trip to the emergency room happened when he was just 11 days old. Turns out he was born with his intestines upside down. As he grew they formed a knot and stopped working, requiring an operation. He has the scar to prove it and no appendix.

It’s been four years since anyone in our family made a trip to the emergency room. 

Knock on wood.