Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tuesday Tip: A few must-haves for a trip to the ER

Last Thursday night, Ciara gave us a major fright.  Her fever spiked and she had a febrile seizure.  Fortunately, I was on the phone with the pediatrician when it happened; it didn't last long, the paramedics arrived within minutes and my little lady was pretty much back to her spunky self on Friday morning.  Unfortunately, I was home alone (well, as alone as you can be with five kids and a dog!) and had never really considered the "must haves" for an emergency room visit.  

As most Moms know, when you're expecting a baby, you're instructed to have your bag packed from about 37 weeks on.  You're told what to put in that bag and you dutifully pack it and have it ready for when the time comes.  I'm not suggesting that you leave an ER-ready bag by the front door or in the back seat but, I do think it would be helpful to run through this little checklist so that if you one day find yourself en route to the ER with one of your tots in tow, you'll have everything you need when you get there.

  1. The basics.  Bring your phone, drivers license, insurance card, FSA card if you have one and some cash -- not a lot, just enough for perhaps a bottle of water, a magazine and possibly even a cab ride home... as I learned the hard way, an ambulance ride is not a round-trip ticket! Ideally, you should also have your child's social security number.  Some of you may be more clever than I and have it memorized but, with five kids, they're lucky I remember their birthdays let alone their social security numbers!
  2. The comforts of home.  Or, at the very least, a few little items to help you and your little one make the most of this unexpected and likely unpleasant trip.  For us, the "WaWa" was critical.  You may call it a lovey or a blankie or perhaps there's a favorite stuffed animal.  Whatever it is, bring it with you.  Also, I don't know if it's because my sweet lady was burning up with fever or that they really crank the AC in the summertime but we found the hospital to be a very cold place, in the most literal sense.  If you think of it and have time to grab it, bring a sweatshirt... in addition to providing some warmth, it can also double as a pillow which, if you find yourself there from 10PM-4AM like I was, you will be glad to have!
  3. Emergency contacts.  How many times have you filled out those forms for school or camp and listed the emergency contacts for your kids?  Well, what about some folks for you to call when the times get tough?  We're lucky to live among not just neighbors but true friends.  The kind of friends who are already on your front porch when you make that call for help.  The kind who offer to come the hospital with you.  The kind who offer to drive your husband to the hospital when he gets home.  Make a call list with your go-to contacts and don't be afraid to use it. Oh, and if they offer to follow your husband to the hospital so he can leave a car for you in the chance of an overnight discharge, just say yes!  If you don't, you'll need to refer to point #1 and hope you have enough cash in your wallet for a cab ride home! 
One last thing, trust your maternal (or paternal) instinct.  No one knows your kid better than you do and if you think a trip to the ER is in order, it probably is.  If you get there and they send you home, well, it probably wouldn't be the first time you had that proverbial bag packed and were told to come back another time --  at least you'll have the peace of mind of knowing that your little one is ok and, a trial run so you'll be ready for the next time.  Although I don't like to think about it, one of the nurses parting words to me were "with five kids, there's bound to be a next time!"  If there is, I just hope it's another quick trip with a happy ending... and, I can assure you that the next time, I'll have that sweatshirt with me!

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