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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Preparing For An Emergency

The last time I pre-packed a hospital bag, I was pregnant. I had a tote dedicated to leaving for the hospital, ready for when labor started. I never thought of creating a hospital tote for other emergencies. You know childbirth is coming. You don't know that an ER visit is coming. It just hits you, out of nowhere.

But, early one Sunday morning almost a year ago, my husband woke me and said he needed to go to the ER. We ended up in the hospital for three days. I was exhausted, but drove the twenty minutes each way from the hospital to my home to get supplies once we knew that his gall bladder was, indeed, going to be making a dramatic exit.

Then this morning happened.

I woke with chest pains. I was sure I was having a heart attack. I was terrified. Time was of the essence.

Turns out, I was having an acute asthma attack that was not responsive to my inhaler. The pains were caused by
bronchial spasms. Our working theory is that I am allergic to Mouse, since I spent yesterday cleaning out the invaded pantry. These sort of asthma attacks usually only happen to me when I am around cats. (Hence, our lack of the simplest solution to the Great Mouse Hunt 2013 2014.)

In about 30 minutes, we got the kids up, dressed, and made it to the hospital, 20 minutes away. We opted, for better or worse, not to call an ambulance, as I was able to walk and breathe and we didn't want to waste the time waiting for the vehicle to arrive.

I needed things, though, that are so easy to pack in a bag. And for those things that don't go in the bag, I needed a checklist for my poor husband and kids, who were panicked. Instead, I ended up helping my flustered, but very determined husband get things together. That was a bad idea.

So, for next time there is an emergency, I am putting together a tote. Note that some things are for adults only, as my extended family picks up the kids in emergencies, so they get a key to my home to pack the kids' school uniforms and bags anyway. The point of this tote is that an adult is always present at the hospital with whoever is sick.

*a cheap tote bag (that I got on clearance from Target for a dollar in summer clearance)



*the following items will be stored in the bag at all times. A use for "almost holey" socks, perhaps?

-cheap toothbrushes (one per family member)
-toothpaste (adults)
-hairbrush (adults)
-deodorant (adults)
-underwear (adults)
-socks (adults) (Seriously, have you stepped on a cold hospital floor?)

*a packing list on the outside of an envelope (for things that I can't keep in the bag at all times, so the person packing can act quickly), binder-clipped to the bag. (Actually, my bag has a pocket for this purpose, but just in case yours does not.)

This list is purposely short, so it can be gathered quickly.

-all prescription meds
-booster car seat for the little one (who normally uses a five-point harness, but legally can use a booster and will in an emergency)
-my planner

-my purse
-husband's wallet
-snacks 
-cash 
-cell phones
-phone chargers
-laptop
-laptop chargers

(Laptops and cell phones saved us $2,000 when I had to deal with the insurance from a hospital room last time my husband was admitted. It seems like a luxury. It is decidedly not.)

*a list of emergency numbers - my parents, my mother-in-law, and several local people who can pick up the kids, all inside the envelope.

*a medical history cheat sheet for each family member, with a reminder of our doctor's names, our prescription meds, and our surgical and medical histories, typed up, updated regularly (as a four time a year task in my planner), all inside of the envelope.

Add anything that I have forgotten in the comments, please.

I'm on strong meds and not in shape to do this organizing tonight, but it's going on this week's task list.

Please consider putting it on yours, too. May you never, ever need to use it!

For those who worried about me, I'm going to be fine. I did the right thing and rushed to the hospital. A special thank you to the nurses, doctors, orderlies, radiation techs, and respiratory techs at Baton Rouge General - Bluebonnet, for quick and exceptional care!

Etcetera.

13 comments:

A "Mild" Child's Mom said...

So glad you are ok. This is a great post. I'm going to implement some of these ideas.

Christine Cortese said...

Giftie, I have asthma too and am so glad you got treatment fast. Now perhaps you could all move to a nice hotel for a few days and hire professional exterminators to get that darn thing (and its kin) out of your house.

Otherwise, great post and more tasks to add to my planner.

Vanessa said...

When I was going through chemotherapy (in patient so I was admitted for four to five days), I kept a book bag already packed up. One thing I learned was to keep a pair of sweat pants and a sweat shirt in there. I refused to wear the awful hospital gowns (you know, the kind that are supposed to tie in the back but always come untied in the middle of a hallway in front of everyone?) so I wore ratty t-shirts and yoga pants. It made me feel a bit more human and if they got soiled, I didn't mind throwing them out.

Also, we kept our extra cell phone, iPad and laptop chargers in that bag.

Feel better!

Michelle Jensen said...

The most important thing is the envelope - even at the hospital, they have slipper socks (ask a nurse), toothbrushes, etc - all that is usually part of the per-room charge that you pay anyway :) Print a short form med record - medications, medical conditions, allergies, surgeries - emergency contacts, list of doctors / clinics, insurance information, on a half-sheet of paper. Get it laminated at an office supply store. Fold in half, or quarters (you can use a business card document template and fit it on there). Put with driver's license in wallet. Update as necessary. Finally, while the hospital might be 20 minutes away, an ambulance is almost always closer - and brings the ER to you! Never, ever take the chance with chest pain! Please! I'm glad you're okay :)

Ashley and Jason Faucett said...

Glad you are okay! Definitely a good idea! I'm always worried about something happening to the kids but don't think as much about hubby and I ; definitely working on this!

Ashley and Jason Faucett said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

So glad you are ok and double points for thinking of others in your condition. Great advice for us and doing this today since things are shut down due to extreme cold.

ebethe said...

Change for a snack machine--soda machine and something to entertain the kids. Just a thought!

Susan Mac said...

Thanks for thinking of others even when you're in no shape to do so! I have COPD, so there is always a chance of a flare-up situation. Being prepared reduces stress! I am implementing your list forthwith (I hardly ever get to use words like that; thanks for being a lawyer).

yezenia said...

You're a lawyer do I'm sure you have this but your readers may not, a copy of your advanced directive that has previously been discussed with your family, doctor, and health care proxy. You never know when that hospital stay will be the last. Having this before my sister lost consciousness and took a HUGE wait off my shoulders. Yes it's the hardest conversation you'll ever have, but you don't wAnt your family members dumbstruck when it's time to make the hard choices.

yezenia said...

Ugh, sorry for the typos, autocorrect loves making me look like a fool.

Alexis Brandenburger said...

This is a great idea! Ever since I moved to college away from my parents, I've had a few papers in a binder with all the important information you listed, but never really knew what to do with it! I think it's gonna have a new place in a tote bag along with a few other emergency essentials thanks top this brilliant tip. Double whammy: less packing for when I have kids ;) I'm glad you're doing alright, but it sucks you had to go through a hospital visit! Thanks for the great idea - hope the mouse doesn't bother your allergies as much anymore!

Lavender Life UK said...

Ongh! I am so sorry for you!! :-( I hope you will be well very soon!! Please search/learn about green juices/vegetable juices. Best wishes for you and your family. Thank you for the idea! I am definitely making our tote bag. Thank you.