It’s so easy to whine about the modern world. Life can seem loud, bright, and way too plugged in sometimes but you know what will make you stop whining and sob with gratitude for modernity? Your child smashing his head open on a rock- that’s what.
That’s exactly what happened to my 8-year-old this weekend. My balls-to-the-walls, daredevil son got woozy watching me patch up the bloody knee he got from pogo-sticking and fainted, landing head first on a rock. That’s right – pogo sticks and skateboards are no problem but the sight of blood caused him to have an accident that aged me 10 years overnight.
I wasn’t thinking about the modern world or feeling grateful for electricity while we were waiting for the ambulance because I was busy holding him; stifling the urge to panic while he was bleeding from his head and his nose, asking to go to sleep. It wasn’t until we were at the children’s hospital and I was standing by him while he got a CT scan in a machine decorated with teddy bear stickers that I started to feel overwhelmed at how lucky we are.
In most of the world, emergency care doesn’t exist. Within 10 minutes of calling 911, we had 2 fire and rescue vehicles at our house along with 5 trained, very calm paramedics who quickly had my son secured on a stretcher and hooked up to machines that could monitor his vitals on the way to the hospital. This is incredible when you think about it. The paramedics, the equipment, the air-conditioned ambulance, even the paved roads are luxuries much of the world can’t imagine.
When we got to the children’s hospital (think about that for a moment – we have a huge, state-of-the-art medical facility just for children), we were hustled into a room where we were seen quickly by pediatric nurses and a pediatrician. Think about that too – we have nurses and doctors who are specially trained just to treat children. This is not how most of the world lives.
While we were waiting to be taken to radiology for the CT scan, a nurse came in and put something on the gash to completely numb it so that it wouldn’t hurt while the doctor cleaned and stitched the wound. How much of the world has access to the kind of care where you can be stitched up without even feeling it?
While we waited for the CT results, I looked around and took stock of how amazing it is that we live in a time and place where our children get medical care in facilities that most people in the world have never seen. These facilities are climate-controlled with automatic doors, computers, and security cameras. The diagnostic equipment, the lights, the vending machines, the televisions, even the thermometers and the blood pressure cuffs are powered by reliable electricity that we rarely give a second thought.
It was the CT scan machine with the teddy bears, one that must have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars (at least), sitting in a cool, dim room and making a soft blowing sound while it took pictures of my little boy’s head, that made my heart clench because I knew that I was lucky enough to live where my child had the best possible chance to be okay. By sheer luck of birth, I get to raise a family in a place where abundant energy is a given, where advanced technology is so commonplace that we feel free to decorate it, and where specialized medical care is a quick ambulance ride away.
The next time I’m feeling tempted to complain about the stress of modern life, that lights are too bright or that technology is taking over, I’ll remind myself what real stress is. Real stress is what most of the world’s mothers feel when their child is badly injured. Real stress is watching your child bleed and having no one to call, no place to go, no doctor to care for him, and no big machine with teddy bear stickers to tell you that he’s going to be okay.