Preparing For a Loved One’s Health Emergency
Last March, I came out to Minnesota to visit my dad and see the completed suite my sister added to her house specifically for him when he moved in with her. We were all hanging out together when my dad suddenly sits up, says he wasn’t feeling so good and asked me to run to his bathroom to get the nitroglycerin. That time, my sister was around to instruct the paramedics while I was trying to stay out of the way. This time when he said he was having chest pains, I was a little wiser, but am determined to use my lessons learned for the next time.
- Know your address if you’re not at home. When calling 911, the first thing they ask is the address. My dad has it written on the back of his phone which was useful. Better than leaving his side to scurry around trying to find a utility bill.
- Know his medical history, generally. I was there for the March heart attack, so I knew what hospital he was taken to and the procedure, but not as many details for the one a couple of months afterward.
- Have a list of any medications handy. They’ll ask, so it was very useful to have the list we were given from the hospital on top of the bookcase. We’ll be putting that in a clipboard to be readily available. The hospital also called back asking about the medications including the dosage, so including any changes to the list would have answered her questions.
- Don’t panic. The 911 dispatcher connected me to the hospital who was also asking a series of questions. She reminded me to let my dad know help was on the way which was excellent advice. I was pretty calm except for a reaction my dad had to chewing multiple aspirin where he turned over and started spitting up. I’m under dramatizing—I was so scared. Thankfully the paramedics walked in seconds later.
- Have a go bag ready to collect his things. This is for my dad’s wallet, keys, phone and charger, his hearing aid and charger and since there is a lot of waiting, I threw in my dad’s reading glasses and a book. I’ll be getting a small backpack or tote bag to keep by his nightstand, but I couldn’t find a bag anywhere, so put it all in a pillowcase!
I hope there really is not a next time, but if there is, a little preparation can help the paramedics collect some of the answers they need to better assist your loved one. Whatever I can do now to make it a little less stressful for me or my sister will just mean we can be more present for my dad when he needs us most.