We visibly cringed when we saw the woman carrying the limp body of a small child as they burst into the emergency room. This scene was sadly familiar: we had seen her (and treated her son) before.
We wondered if the child was a pawn in some sick, twisted game, or if the woman had a screw loose somewhere in her head. (We figured the later, though we wouldn't be suprised if the former was true as well.)
The child in question was a little boy no older than five, maybe six at the most. He had thick, wavy copper-red colored curls and freckles sprinkled on his cheeks and nose. He was very small for his age, looking no older than two or three. He was painfully skinny, almost to the point of looking cachexic. He lay in her arms, gasping loudly, and struggling for air.
The woman didn't seem the least bit concerned. She just held the boy out to us as if she expected us to take care of him, first thing. We ended up having to do so: after all, the boy was unconscious and he was having difficulty breathing. We had no choice if we were to save his life, I thought grimly to myself. He was very sick; therefore, we had to treat him.
The medical team in the ER descended upon the boy once he was placed on a table. His clothes were removed until he lay naked, pale, and vulnerable under the harsh lights. IVs and lines were soon affixed as a doctor shone a beam of light into the boy's eyes, first one eye, then the other, holding the lids open as he did so. No response, he said. Something was defiintely wrong with the child; he needed quick medical care as soon as possible, or else he was going to die.
The woman watched from the doorway, her face devoid of all emotion. She didn't even cry or beg us to save her son; she just stood there, as if fascinated by all the procedures being done to her child. It truly chilled me and the rest of the ER staff.
The boy's name was Herbie. He was six years old, a clear victim of Munchausen's by proxy syndrome, where a parent (or other adlut) purposely hurts their loved one, just so they can get attention to themselves. He had been in here at least a dozen times before in the last six months; his last visit was on July 4th of this year, when he fell down the stairs (according to his mother). Turns out that Herbie was pushed down the stairs by his own mother. He didn't want to go to bed on time, so in a fit of rage, the boy's mother pushed him down the stairs.
The boy suffered a cracked wrist (the wrist was still sporting what had once been a purple cast; it was now dirty and dingy in color), numerous contusions, and a simple closed head injury (concussion). He would be okay; but then this happened. The boy was barely clinging to life.
Suddenly, the monitors started squealing as the boy's blood pressure plummeted and his heart rate slowed down to under sixty beats per minute; his skin turned a sickly shade of grey, and his eyes rolled up into his head. A "Code: Blue!" was called as the staff tried their best to save the child's life. CPR and other rescue attempts were initiated upon the ER doctor's orders.
At that, the head nurse on duty called for security; the security personnel came and the woman was immediately arrested. She balked and screamed to be set free, but to no avail. Her screams soon turned into helpless bouts of sobbing as she was led out of the ER, her hands forced behind her back, as the policeman put wrist cuffs on them. It was a clear case of child abuse; it truly sickened us.
Somehow we knew that this would not be the last time we would see little Herbie or his mother.
~To be continued.~