Saturday, December 13, 2008

How To Survive An ER Visit

If you're a parent, you've inevitably already been or will be (again) to the ER with a child. It's one of those facts of life, but one that your child gets to teach you rather than the other way around.

When you go to the ER, it's never a simple, easy visit. There's always something that goes wrong, the wait is longer than you can understand, and then there are those horror stories you hear about....

In an effort to keep your sanity, I've compiled the following list of things to bring with you to the ER outside the obvious ones like your sick or injured child (SOIC), insurance card and a huge measure of patience.

1) A large bladder and/or a non-sick person. The ER visit is never a quick one, and the last thing you want to do is to try to find a bathroom and drag the SOIC with you. We actually brought both this time around. That, of course, explains why my husband called me while I was registering Little Miss with the ER department to ask how much longer I was going to be so he could go to the bathroom.

2) Dinner. Yes, you will be waiting for a long time. The last thing I want or need is to be eating out of the overpriced, calorie-laden vending machines. Friday, I scooped up the leftovers I was planning to eat for dinner and put them in my backpack and ate them throughout the evening. Much more satisfying than the alternative.

3) A portable DVD player and DVDs. While we ended up with eight DVD options for (expected) three day hospital stay, Little Miss watched only two. And really only one and a quarter. I think even I now have the Peter Pan movie memorized. But when the alternative is having your child run around like a banshee (not that we saw multiple unsupervised children doing this) or watching the Family Guy (uhhh, no), the DVD player is hugely helpful in distracting the SOIC during the wait.

4) Pajamas and a Pull-Up. Little Miss is potty trained, but we still brought Pull-Ups for her. Once we were back in the ER room, we changed her into the Pull-Up and some pj bottoms in addition to her hospital gown. This meant she was free to doze on and off and we didnt't have to worry about getting her to a potty on time, which is hard enough with a SOIC. Note: If your child has explosive diarrhea or suspected rotovirus, skip the pj bottoms.

5) The favorite stuffed animal and special blankets. Little Miss didn't want to bring these, partly because I hadn't let her bring them into the pediatrician's office earlier on Friday because I didn't want to get more germs on them. In the hospital, though, you're in your own room that's more sanitized (go with me here). Plus, these comforts help when it's time to sleep or when the SOIC needs comforting.

7) A coloring book and/or Play Doh. If you're like me, DVDs only last so long. These other items are great because if you need to toss them after your stay because they got dirty or gross or otherwise germy, no worries. They're cheap and meant to be somewhat disposable. No comment on how often they've been used by Little Miss so far....

8) A laptop and power cord. Many hospitals are now wireless (as is the one we're in now). Just because your SOIC is sleeping or otherwise occupied doesn't mean you need to be bored. With your computer, you can entertain yourself for hours! Plus, you don't need a light on to use your laptop when your SOIC has gone to sleep.

9) Magazines. When you'e somewhere that isn't convenient to use the laptop, or if the internet connection goes down at the hospital, you need something to read. If you're like me, you don't want to read a book in a hospital and then bring it (and all the new germs) home. Bonus: when you bring both book and laptop, the laptop screen can act as a mini-light when your SOIC needs darkness to sleep.

10) A fifth. When your SOIC starts screaming that he wants to go home and wants to know when it's time to leave, or when the IV stick isn't working and you're on the third stick of the second hand, or when the SOIC screams Mommy! Mommy! when you're sitting right there holding her and she can't open her eyes long enough to see you and process this, you need to reach into that handy dandy backpack and grab a fifth. While a real fifth would be nice, the hospital might frown upon it, so think of it as a fifth of patience. That deep down place where mommies somehow find a way to battle through and survive.

Here's hoping you don't go to the ER anytime soon. And if you do have to go, maybe this list will make things a little easier for you. Oops, I almost forgot: cell phone charger, too. No comment from me on this one, but I know exactly how many beeps before my cell loses power now.


AutoSysGene December 14, 2008 at 4:09 PM  

My DD and I had a 2 day stay in the hospital in Feb. This list is golden and all the stuff I also had to keep us both occupied.

This year I got smart...she got a flu let's just hope that it works this year.

I'm glad y'all are home safe and sound...I know what a relief it is when everything starts to settle down.


Michelle December 15, 2008 at 7:13 PM  

Melissa - Ouch, poor girl! I hope the flu shot works for her this year. I actually realized when at the hospital on Friday that I had not gotten Little Miss a shot. Fortunately, the hospital was handing them out because her pediatrician had none left! Thanks for your support. :)

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