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Olson: Unexpected visit to Kish hospital

It was a moment of high drama at the Olson house last weekend.

My 7-year-old daughter had cut herself, just above her elbow.

The cut wasn’t horror-movie bad, but a Hello Kitty Band-Aid wasn’t going to be enough. My wife and I could tell it would need stitches.

“Stitches?!? No! I don’t want stitches!” she screamed. “Don’t take me to the hospital!”

“My life is ruined!”

This went on for several trying minutes.

I finally wrangled her into the car. We tried a local immediate care clinic, but it was going to be a three-hour wait. I realized quickly that I could not handle three hours with a terror-stricken child in a room full of people waiting to see a doctor.

Next stop, the E.R.

“What does E.R. stand for?” she asked when we got back in the car. She cracked the code quickly. “Emergency room! Did you think I wouldn’t figure that out?!”

Kid’s too smart for her own good sometimes.

We drove to Kishwaukee Community Hospital, where we waited 10 to 15 minutes while watching an MTV reality show. There still was fear.

“Have you had stitches before?”

Remarkably, no. But I probably should have. I didn’t want to go to the hospital, either.

“I don’t want to have surgery.”

This isn’t really surgery.

“Will I have to spend the night here?”

Not unless you make me leave you here.

“How many stitches do I need?”

I don’t know.

“How many stitches?”

I told you, I don’t know.

The nurse came to get us. She led us to a clean room with another television. My daughter lay on the exam table. A doctor came in and was bombarded with questions.

“How many stitches will I need? Is this going to hurt? What kind of thread will you use? Did you know my dad’s never had stitches? He said he should have but he didn’t.”

The doctor did a great job, and my daughter went from being terrified to wanting to watch him sew her cut.

Four stitches later, the doctor had heard all about my daughter’s favorite subject in school, how Christmas was, and how excited she was to start at a new school that week. She would have her own locker.

Then it was over.

“That wasn’t so bad,” she said. “I can’t believe I was scared of that.”

So my first trip to the emergency room with one of my children ended a lot better than it started. Although there were some complaints about itchy stitching this week, it appears her life has not, in fact, been ruined.

There are a lot of places in and around our new community that my family and I have yet to explore.

The emergency room at Kishwaukee Community Hospital wasn’t at the top of my list, and I’d rather not go back any time soon. But after my first experience there, I feel pretty confident that if I ever should have to return, the people waiting to help will be competent and friendly.

• • •

And stay out: Speaking of emergency rooms and hospitals, this flu season is turning out to be a doozy.

Illinois is one of more than 20 states that has been hit hard by the flu this year. It’s started early, and the risk of catching the bug will persist for months.

The flu’s no joke. More than 368 people in the state have been admitted to hospital intensive care units with the flu this season and 27 have died, an Illinois Department of Public Health spokeswoman told the Associated Press on Friday.

The older I get, the more conscious I’ve become about germs in general. I hate being sick. I turn into a big baby.

Now that she has two real children, my wife shows no interest in babying me when I’m sick. So I try to avoid it whenever possible.

There are good ways to protect yourself from the flu and other bugs. Wash your hands often. Cover your mouth with the crook of your elbow (like Dracula) when you cough or sneeze. Unlike in 2009, there’s no shortage of flu vaccine this year, so if you haven’t been vaccinated, it’s not too late.

And if you are sick, don’t go into work just to show what a good soldier you are. You can make everyone else sick.

• • •

Girl scout cookies: A 10-year-old Girl Scout emissary named Rebecca Krieser visited the Daily Chronicle office this week.

She brought cookies. We were all happy to see her.

Until the end of the month, local Girl Scouts will be selling the cookies. In addition to the usual offerings (I’m into cold Thin Mints and Samoas at room temperature) the Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois is one of six councils selling two types of new snack bars.

They’re granola bars, basically. We had a chance to try both the Tagalongs bars (peanut buttery) and the Double Dutch bars (serious chocolate.)

The bars are pretty tasty. Give them a try if you’re looking for something different, or if you want to avoid the guilt of eating cookies for breakfast.

• • •

Re-planting: Good to see that ComEd plans to participate in the effort to re-green the Nature Trail where they did the clear-cut in the fall.

The effort’s been described as replacing the trees that were there, but that’s not exactly what should happen. Even though the tangle of trees and brush provided shade and wildlife habitat, there were a lot of invasive species, including honeysuckle and buckthorn.

This effort is a chance not to replace what was, but to make it better, with plant species that are native and can co-exist with the high-voltage power lines overhead.

That way, not only will the area look like genuine Illinois, but we can also ensure that it will never have to be laid low again.

It sounds as though DeKalb Park Board member Steve Young has some good ideas and a passion to make things better going forward. Volunteers will be key to a restoration effort, which should focus on restoring the area with native species.

The DeKalb Park District has formed a panel, which will include representatives from the utility, the park district, and the public, to work on the problem.

Let’s hope the passion the clear-cut aroused in people will carry over to the restoration effort.

• • •

Bring them home: In the 12 years since 9/11, my appetite for war has waned.

So I was glad to read that President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai are talking about speeding up the military transition in Afghanistan.

How about speeding it up to bring the 66,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan home tomorrow?

• Eric Olson is editor of the Daily Chronicle. Reach him at 815-756-4841, ext. 2257, or email

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