Image: Red emergency bag labeled with a white equilateral cross.
It was almost midnight and my sister was holding my hair and shoulders to keep me from falling off the bed as I vomited again and again. My husband tried to calm me. We had tested my blood sugar and it was normal unlike just six months before when I ended up in the ER with a blood glucose of 400. I wasn’t keeping any stomach medication or water down. When I lost my emotional cool and couldn’t breathe, they decided to call 911.
Luckily, I had planned for an emergency. All of my medications that didn’t need refrigeration were in a small bag along with a list. The admitting nurse asked me about my medications and since I couldn’t talk much, my husband handed her the list and bag. I was released several hours later diagnosed with a bowel obstruction i.e. sever constipation caused by hypothyroidism. Yes, I’m embarrassed. And I’m lucky it wasn’t much worse.
In the summer of 2010, I was completely unprepared for an extensive hospitalization. I was taken by ambulance directly from the ER to a inpatient mental health facility. The clothes I had on was all I had. My husband had to drive four hours the next day to bring more clothes and things like a tooth and hair brush.
People who have a serious illness are more likely to end up in the emergency room. Being prepared can take the edge off a serious and stressful event.
These planning steps are a starting point. Since it cannot include all of your specific needs, think about additional considerations. You are the best person to assess what items and information you’ll need. Share this information with someone who knows you and even ask them for advice. Don’t put off preparing. It does take time to prepare for a medical emergency but it can save your life. Getting it done can give you some peace of mind.
1. Wear a Medical ID. For information about choosing and ID and enchanting it read the Staff of Asclepius three part series “The Magick and History of Medical Alert Identification”. www.patheos.com/community/paganswithdisabilities/2010/09/08/33/
2. Have a list of important people and their up to date contact information. Include:
- Primary Care Physician and specialists
- Your emergency contact person or person who will make medical decisions if you are unable too. (The same person designated on your medical/health care directive.)
- spiritual advisor (It is ultimately up to you. Do you want a Priest, Priestess, or other Pagan leader or even a Unitarian minister to visit during an extended hospitalization? If you are a solitaire or in an area with not many Pagans, you’ll need to do some searching. Contact someone to see if they are a good fit and if they would be willing to drive some distance to the hospital.)
- friends and family
3. List of current medications with dosage and directions.
4. List of updated diagnoses.
5. Fill out an advance medical directive. Give a copy to the local hospital and primary care physician.
6. The emergency contact person needs:
- copies of your medications and doctors
- contact information for anyone who can watch your children and pets
- copy of your medical initiative
7. Pack an “overnight bag” with clothes and toiletries. (Mental Health facilities will only allow modest clothing meaning pants and shirts with sleeves. No skirts, shorts, tank tops etc. Also, clothes with strings are not allowed. Though I think it’s a silly rule since the hospital gowns aren’t decent and have plenty of strings.)
In the comments, Kadiera has shared some very important advice on being prepared for an emergency when you have children. She is the author of Our Little Acorn at ourlittleacorn.blogspot.com/p/about.html
For information about Advanced Health Care Directives and to download directive specific to your state visit Caring Connections caringinfo.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3289
For more information about preparing for natural and other disasters visit www.disability911.com/
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations www.uua.org
CUUPS Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans www.cuups.org/
COG Covenant of the Goddess http://www.cog.org/
Witches’ Voice listing of local Pagan clergy. Anyone can create a listing so always be discerning. www.witchvox.com/vn/vn_index/xclergy.html