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How to Get Ready for an ER visit

2010 March 23
by Pamela

Mary Claire has had a lot of respiratory issues over the years, resulting in many emergency room and urgent care visits. Sometimes an emergency is CALL 911 and GET OUT. But other times you have a few minutes to prepare and those times are what I’m thinking about tonight. I have learned from the past that taking ten minutes of preparation can make the visit go more smoothly, both for us as parents and Mary Claire as a sick patient.

1. Make sure that you have your driver’s license and insurance card in your wallet.

2. Pack a water bottle for you and sippy cup of water for your little one.

3. Grab a backpack, preferably one with wheels. It’s handy to have one with wheels because if you get admitted, you can transport it home and the 30 mile trek of walking that it takes to get to and from your little ones hospital bed. You don’t need back spasms on top of everything else.

4. Put your kiddo in a stroller, no matter how much they resist. Reasoning? The above-mentioned 30 mile trek to get to and from their room.

In the backpack:

* a few books she likes to read

* a magazine for yourself. You won’t be able to focus on a book, but a magazine is helpful for times when she might fall asleep or be taken into another room for x-rays or tests

* an extra change of clothes including two pairs of underwear for your little one

* extra underwear for yourself

* anything you NEED for yourself – medication, face soap, deodorant, a change of socks, etc. Every hospital we’ve been to had soap, toothbrush and paste, shampoo, towels, diapers, and wipes for the asking. I’d also think about what you tend to need during very stressful times. A prayer book, tylenol, tums, squeegy ball, etc.

* snacks for both of you. Things like cheese sticks, apples, and granola bars will get you through your long waits. Plus food can be a great distraction, provided your little one feels like eating. Next time I’ll add 10 Snicker bars. For me, of course.

* cold hard cash. You will need money to eat at the cafeteria, pay for parking, and hit a vending machine for your 5th cup of coffee or Dr. Pepper

* easy games, like Go Fish

* crayons or markers and a coloring book

* your phone and plug-into-the-wall phone charger

I packed all of this in under ten minutes, in hopes of making our urgent care visit better. Little did I know that she would be transferred to Children’s Hospital and be there for another couple of days. Having all of the above helped to keep her busy and ease my mind.

It is awful to watch your kid riding away in an ambulance. I felt so helpless, bawling my eyes out and screaming bloody murder at the driver because they were stopping at every red light. Hello, an ambulance means EMERGENCY – get my kid to the hospital, STAT!!!!! But I also saw kids that were in much worse shape than Mary Claire and was so, so grateful that we knew she would be okay. I’ve been praying for the little ones at Children’s ever since.

For those of you who offered support, whether it be help, a phone call, or a Facebook post, thank you so much. We felt loved and supported and know more than ever that we have some really great friends.


Also, if you live in the area and like children, Children’s Hospital offers some valuable volunteer opportunities. They have activity rooms with crafts and toys that were a great amenity, staffed completely by volunteers. Mary Claire was able to play in a supervised area while I went back to her room to make phone calls. They also had a mobile craft cart, all with donated goodies packed by elementary school students. Oh, and the dogs! Little “therapy” dogs, which just means that they smelled really good, didn’t shed, and wouldn’t jump on you (I wouldn’t mind one like that) came around to the rooms, again staffed with caring volunteers. I also saw people going from room to room, spending time with kids who hadn’t had visitors that day. These “extras” made all the difference to us.

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