I was just finishing some desk work at the office when I got the call from my daughter-in-law that she was taking my 11-year-old granddaughter to the hospital.

I was just finishing some desk work at the office when I got the call from my daughter-in-law that she was taking my 11-year-old granddaughter to Jordan Hospital in Plymouth, Mass.


She is a gymnast (and a pretty good one I may add) and while practicing one of her routines, she fell hard, hitting the back of her head. At the same time her knees, with great force, struck her nose.


She was unconscious for a short period of time. When she regained consciousness, she started crying, was in pain and quite confused.


When I arrived at the emergency room she was lying on a hospital gurney with a bandage over her swollen and fractured nose, and was receiving intravenous fluids. She was very sleepy and still confused.


This is a sight that no grandparent ever wants to see. Being a doctor did not make it any easier. In fact, it made it worse, knowing the potential serious consequences of such an injury.


Although hospitals have been an integral part of most of my adult life, as I hovered over my ailing granddaughter, my perspective was not that of a physician, but that of a worried grandfather.


I had forgotten how intimidating a hospital, especially an emergency room, can be to patients and families. But fortunately, today hospital staff makes a concerted effort to relieve such stress and try to provide a friendlier atmosphere.


The family is usually not shunted to a dreary waiting room but is allowed to be with the patient providing him or her much needed comfort, solace, and reassurance.


Although my granddaughter's brain CT scan was normal, her clinical status was worrisome, so she was transferred to Children's Hospital by ambulance.


There, she slowly became more lucid. By 2 in the morning it was decided that she was well enough to be sent home.


Although the entire experience lasted only eight hours, it seemed like an eternity. The range of emotions was mercurial.


Initial despair, sadness and extreme anxiety were followed by cautious optimism and then, finally, relief and great joy knowing that she was out of danger.


Something can be learned from such difficult and trying experiences.


A person's life can change in the blink of an eye. So, appreciate and enjoy the good and important things that you have and frequently take for granted, like your children and grandchildren.


Massachusetts-based Dr. Murray Feingold is the physician in chief of the National Birth Defects Center, medical editor of WBZ-TV and WBZ radio, and president of the Genesis Fund. The Genesis Fund is a nonprofit organization that funds the care of children born with birth defects, mental retardation and genetic diseases.