A visit to the CIMA ER

This weekend past was not one of your healthier ones, Mi Pequeña Niña. On Saturday, we noticed your nose was running, and you were coughing again. We’ve almost come to expect this since you started going to school a few months ago. Until then, you were the picture of health, barely having the sniffles from teething.

Since going to school, you’ve had a variety of illnesses, coupled with ear infections and your final teeth coming in (you’ve got all your baby teeth now), and it’s been a bit of a challenge for you and Mommy. You’ve seen the doctor a few times, now.

But you gave Mommy and I a bit of a scare last night.

Your breathing and heart rate weren’t normal. It worried the both of us. That’s not to say you’re unhealthy, just that the situation wasn’t normal. Mommy suspected your ear infection might not have actually gone away (we’d debated this earlier in the day), and I was worried that your heart was beating a little too hard and a little too fast.

In the end, we decided we needed opinions from those in the health industry. Mommy called HealthLink, a service that the Calgary Health Region had started before you were born. I felt a little odd using a service from a city we no longer lived in, but the reality is that we needed advice from someone we trusted. (We have our suspicions that some doctors in Costa Rica have a habit of jumping to prescriptions without first going over the medical history properly.)

The result? They told us to go to a hospital.

Just after 00:30, we piled into Dave (our Suzuki — it’s a joke I’ll probably have to explain to you when you’re older) and drove out to CIMA — the Centro International de Medicina (I’m not sure what the “A” is) — the private hospital in Escazà º. I was a little worried what the trip would be like — I’d never been to a hospital outside of Canada before, and what I knew of Costa Rican hospitals I’d learned from my co-workers — the public system here is a bit stressed.

Except for the difficulty of actually finding the Emergencà ­a entrance (note to CIMA: clear signage is a plus at night), getting to the ER wasn’t actually too hard. (Well, that and avoiding the ghost trucks on the highway. Seriously, people, get some bloody lights!)

I was stunned — utterly shocked, I tell you! — to find that the ER was empty. The wasn’t a single person waiting. (There weren’t even any desk clerks — the one we spoke to was wandering around with not much to do.) We had to pay a small “deposit”, but within 10 minutes of arriving we all sat with an admission nurse. He asked a few questions, took down some notes, and then guided us to a small examination room used primarily for kids.

There we waited for the pediatrician, who arrived a few minutes later. He checked your ears (thankfully both devoid of infection), tested your belly for any distress (you were already a bit ticked from the ear probe, but presumably he knows what he’s looking for), and listened to your breathing.

“Viral”, we were told. Fairly common, but it comes down to you being a bit sick. Which isn’t uncommon, these days. Again, it’s nothing we’re worried about. I remember being sick a lot when I was a kid, too — when you’re around that many kids, none of whom have strong immune systems yet, you’re gonna catch a lot of colds.

You’re fine now, of course. Heck, you were better by the time we were most of the way there. Which I expected, really. You were having trouble from lying down — you could cough yourself clear properly. A good hack got out most of the gunk.

For the record, your grandparents hauled me to the emergency room of the Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital when I was about your age, having dumped a small bottle of black paint in my eyes. By the time we’d gotten to the hospital, I’d cried it all out. Some 36.8 years later, I still have pretty good vision.

I don’t mind having gone to the ER — except maybe for the loss of sleep — as I know that you’re well.

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