Wednesday, June 24, 2015

What to Pack When You Need to Go to the ER

Last week, I had to go to the ER. I hate the ER. It is always a last resort. That day I woke up with a high fever, nausea, bad GI problems, dizziness, generally feeling like I got hit by three buses, etc. I ended up having probably the worst possible version of whatever shitty virus is going around + my general pain.

Dad: "You look dead. Give me a thumbs up."
I couldn't hold down food, liquids or drugs, so my dad took me to the ER because I was so dehydrated I could barely move.  It took forever for them to bring me back after a lot of drama I caused in the waiting room yelling things like "poor care" and "I need to speak the administration immediately!" in my half comatose, angry state. Obviously the first thing they tried to do was get an IV in me, which seemed like an impossible feat. I think 6-7 nurses AND doctors each tried about 3-4 different times in all different spots, all with their own dumb theories about how to do it. One doctor even used a ultrasound to find veins and ironically, he was the fucking worst one.

The night I got home.
The next day. I've looked like a heroin addict for approximately a week.

I was in a bed in the hallway for several hours and eventually got moved to a bedroom and was able to leave late that night.

Below are a mixture of things I brought and things I wish I had brought. Because, damn, when better to be prepared, right?

  • Noise Cancelling Headphones - You will THANK me for this later. If you're stuck in the hallway with a headache for 1+ hours, all you hear is constant beeping, people screaming, doctors yelling. My body is sensitive to that shit. Even if you don't listen to music. Put 'em on.
  • Medical Wallet ID Card - I need to make one. I had been waiting until I moved to London so I wouldn't have to change all of my information 20,000 times before I moved, assuming I wouldn't have to go to the ER before I moved. Silly me.  Make sure it has your doctor's phone numbers, a list of current meds you're on, diagnoses, emergency contacts, allergies to things, etc. This is crucial, especially if you're too out of it to explain. You can even print them online and laminate them together. 
  • Packet of Medical Info including doctor's notes approving the medication you're on (especially if you're on narcotics), a description of diagnoses and how you're managing them, and a list of all the drugs you've had bad reactions to
  • Change of clothes - In the case you have to stay the night, or something gets vomited on, blood on, etc. Better to have them.
  • Pillow and travel blanket- ER people tend to forget you exist sometimes. Bring your own stuff. From my fever, I had bad chills and had to wait FOREVER to get a blanket. Brought my own pillow, which THANK GOD, but it did get covered in blood. Damn you ultra sound guy.
  • Toiletries, especially Listerine- if you puke, you will wish you could brush your teeth, I would also throw in a brush, some hair ties, tooth brush and tooth paste, some dry shampoo, etc. 
  • Drugs while you wait- You may have to wait awhile. In the mean, I had brought some Ibuprofen for my fever and headache, Zofran for the nausea and my typical pill box of fun pain meds
  • Phone and whatever other chargers you need
  • Snacks- even if you can't eat, your poor, miserable family members will get hungry 
  • iPad- you need to entertain yourself somehow
  • Squeeze Pig (or just something to squeeze)- I use my squeeze pig for injections but I could've totally used him when they were searching for veins for 2 hours. 
  • Wet wipes- Guess who left the hospital covered in blood. We can't all look like animals. 
  • Cool Towel - You wet this thing and snap it, and it stays cool for HOURS. Perfect for fevers. I wish I had mine. 
  • Eye Mask - Zone out, especially if you're sleeping over. (This is my new one.)

Let's hope this never happens again. Ever.


  1. I never pack these many things! I like the medical info one. I get the whole screaming at the administration etc thing. Some people just don't get how important it is to us (I have fibromyalgia, depression and anxiety) that we have good doctors and nurses because when we are unwell it really means THE WORLD to have someone who doesn't suck at helping us when it is their job to. Every detail counts. It makes me thankful for when nurses etc. actually care. I once hobbled into A&E and whispered when I saw a nurse - get me a wheelchair and they acted FAST. Things like this make me so touched I could cry.

  2. I just found your blog today and am truly thankful. Living with chronic back pain (for 15 months now) has been the hardest thing I have ever faced in my life. I try to use humor, but some days (like today) it's hard. Thank you for your blog, honesty and being brave enough to share your story