Three Things to Have in Emergencies, Plus Advice
Last updated: November 2023
If you ever find yourself in an emergency situation, such as the need to visit the emergency room, I’ve learned from experience that a little advanced preparation goes a long way.
1. Be prepared with lists
Something that’s always important to keep with you, in your possession, at all times are list of medicines you take for your blood cancer and other conditions and the allergies you have.
It sounds like a simple thing, but more often than not these furnished lists to EMTs and emergency rooms typically go missing. Therefore, it is better to ensure they get duplicated and stay with you.
If you are like me with a dozen allergies, it’s almost impossible to remember them all in times of stress. Ditto for the numerous medications, their doses, etc. You have enough to worry about and this step is an easy fix.
2. Be able to stay in touch
Your phone charger is the second thing to throw in your purse or pocket. My recent experience going from the ER to emergency surgery to a regular room hospital stay taught me that only too well.
Even though my texts from the ER were called “somewhat gibberish,” by a few people, I was glad to have enough charge to communicate initially where I was and what was happening to key people who should know.
3. Be comfortable
Believe it or not, another item that would have helped me was a small tube of toothpaste. When I called 911, I never imagined surgery was in the cards. Nor did I think I’d spend five days in the hospital post-operation.
I spent the first two nights lying in the emergency room waiting for a surgical bed to open, luckily I was in a closed-off area, but still...
During post-surgery, I was moved to a hospital room, but I was not given the usual things like a towel, face cloth, comb, or toothpaste. I was so sick at first that I didn’t notice. But then the wait for these items became ridiculous. Having something with me to use sure would have helped.
Advice- be your own spokesperson
Lastly, these are not things, but some pieces of advice. Try to be patient. It’s a virtue and all that.
However, especially when you are alone and vulnerable, you can be taken advantage of when you are too passive. Don’t suffer in silence. I wish I hadn’t. Speak up! Nicely convey your needs, concerns, and questions.
If that doesn’t work and can’t get any satisfaction, ask to speak with a patient advocate. I wish I had. If there is a next time, I won’t make that mistake again.
It is also important to convey information about your serious medical conditions, in my case, chronic myeloid leukemia, to the emergency care team and the follow-up personnel.
I was quick to tell the nurses and doctors I encountered in the ER that I had blood cancer. Not only that, but I took daily oral treatment, a TKI, and needed to know if that could be safely discontinued for the duration.
Everyone assured me they would consult with hematology/oncology before advising me on how to proceed. The first time I spoke with the surgeons the next day, they said they had “consulted,” with those departments and the TKI was fine to be off until I was discharged.
Something seemed off and I asked again a few days later and was told after a week to go back on. A different person told me to wait two weeks.
Ultimately, I was off the TKI for two months, per my CML specialist’s orders. Turns out, no one had consulted him about anything and he learned what was going on with me well after the fact. Knowing my doctor, I’m sure some of those surgeons got an ear full.
Speak up. Trust your intuition, your gut, with or without a gall bladder.
How do you feel about your support system?