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Thursday, January 19, 2017

A tip if you end up in the ER

Last week, a family member had an accident and we had to call the ambulance. 

While we were waiting for the ambulance, I told daughter Kitty to throw some snacks in my purse. Unfortunately, we have had LOTS of experience with the emergency room. When my kids were little, they were hospitalized 12 times for asthma. So I knew that there were a few things that would make our LONG wait in the ER a little easier.

Here are a few things I have learned:

  • It can be unexpected and scary to be in the ER
  • You are going to be there for a LONG time
  • They are busy, so all they can help you with are medical problems
  • Snacks help grab trail mix, granola bars, etc
  • Grab your favorite water bottle 
  • Don't forget a portable power bank/phone charger
  •  Humor can help - people are usually shocked and scared and may say or do things that normally wouldn’t
  • The medical staff are your friends - treat them that way!

With my kids, we first go through the triage area, then they usually put us in a holding room in the ER. Then it was 2 or 3 hours before we would go upstairs to a room in pediatrics. Every illness or injury can be different, but the staff usually has to draw blood for the lab, order MRI's, CT scans or x-rays. That  takes time because there are other people in the ER who ALSO need labs, MRI’s, CT scans and x-rays. So……we wait.

While we wait, I don't ever leave my kid’s bedside (except to use the bathroom!) There was no way I was going to go wander around and try to find a vending machine or cafeteria. So I learned to throw snacks in my purse before we left for the ER. I grab candy, fruit, granola bars, trail mix, string cheese, raisins, nuts – anything I could find to get me through a few hours in the ER. I am nicer and can focus better if my blood sugar is stable. Who needs a tired, cranky mom in the ER?!

It seems like accidents and illnesses never happen during the day. It's always seems to happen in the middle of the night. So you may want some caffeine too! 

While you wait, there is the parade of people coming into your ER room (the registrar that wants me to sign paperwork, the lab gal, the nurse, medical assistant, respiratory therapist and the doctor.) You never know who is going to pop into your room,  so….you wait. 

I would usually walk back and forth and watch the oxygen monitor. Then check to see how many liters of oxygen my kids are on, rub my kid's cheek and forehead, text an update to a family member, look at their oxygen level (again), check the clock (again) and have a snack or caffeine.

When the tests would come back, and the doctor would come and tell us the results (usually that one of the kids had pneumonia) and then they would take us up to the pediatrics floor. That was always a huge sigh of relief when I knew the professionals were taking over. I know when I'm in over my head and can't treat their asthma on my own. My kids would need oxygen, IV steroids, a respiratory therapist, doctor and nurse.

We usually stay in the hospital for 3 days when my kids have pneumonia. So Hubby and I take turns staying there. The other parent goes home to shower, change clothes, and spend time with the other kids. Being admitted to the hospital is very different from being in the ER.

You may not be admitted to the hospital if end up in the ER, but think ahead – what might you want if you are stuck in the ER for 3 or 4 hours? I always carry a big purse with the usual mom stuff - Tylenol or Advil, lip balm, gum, tissues, etc. So I just throw in a few snacks and a water bottle. 

What have you found that helps you when you are in the ER? 


  1. Are they ok now? You should do an article about aspergillosis. It has been raining for days and our window has been leaking water. This is Texas, so it is very humid and we have mold. Of course the apartment magagement doesn't think this is a big deal and no repairs have been made. Of course my CF lungs could not handle it and I went straight to the ER after I saw my primary care doctor because I have aspergillosis. I am still waiting for lab tests to get back to see the extent of the infection but either way it will be very difficult to treat. I told my husband to go to class tomorrow because we are both in STEM and have very hard classes but he won't leave me and wants to know the results as soon as they're in. The doctor did say asthmatics are also prone to aspergillosis. I remember it being very dry when I visited utah so maybe you don't have mold as bad but still. I will probably not be sleeping tonight.

    1. I learned about aspergillosis when I was studying for my Certified Asthma Educator exam. Thanks for the idea, I should blog about it!

  2. On the bright side, the xopenex inhaler apparently went generic and my copay was $20 instead of $60. I was excited when he brought back my prescriptions.

    1. Oh sweet! I love it when they go generic!

    2. I hope you get to feeling better soon :)