Monday, November 14, 2011

ICE (In Case of Emergency): What's your plan?

In the last month, we've had 2 trips to the ER (minor stuff, but still emergent/after hours, etc).  The first trip was because Boo's croup had taken a turn and we were suddenly dealing with a bad fever that was only going up.  She's so rarely sick; we simply weren't prepared to deploy.  Once we made the decision to take her to the ER, we spent a good 20 minutes gathering, running up and down the stairs, checking and double-checking things, going back into the house for one more thing... you get the idea.  It was much more stressful than it needed to be.

Yesterday, I dropped a glass and ended up with a "lacerated" (the very word makes me cringe) finger that needed more attention than we could give it at home, so off we went again.  Here's why we weren't scrambling this time:

  • My drivers license, debit card, and insurance card were in my wallet, not just tossed back into my purse after their last use.  Do you know where yours are?  Get up, right now, and put them where they go.  This departure was a bit easier simply because I'd spent some time getting a grip on the contents of my purse.
  • Triage at home:  we don't have a traditional first aid kit, but the top drawer in our bathroom is organized.  Bandages are in a Ziploc bag, antibiotic ointment is right there, etc. 
  • On the way to the hospital, my husband and I devised a strategy (it sounds so Mission: Impossible...).  "I'll drop you off at the door.  You go check in, I'll park the car and bring Boo."  By the time they got inside, I was in triage (this is largely due to the ER staff being organized too.  Rock on!).
  • No time to line up a sitter?  Have a go-bag ready with stuff to keep the kid occupied.  I have a folder on my phone labeled "Boo", and it's full of apps that are just for her.  We were glad to have it, because Pop Pop Popcorn bought us 10 minutes of distraction so we could take care of the business at hand.  I keep a handful of crayons and a notebook in my purse (hi, I'm Mary Poppins, nice to meet you, even when my purse is manageable) because coloring is always OK with Boo.
  • We knew the answers to their questions.  Pop quiz:  What's your deductible?  What's the dosage of any medication you regularly take?  Do you have a living will/advance directive?  If you don't know offhand, write it down somewhere or put it in your phone.   
  • We stayed calm.  Going to the ER is one of those super-loaded events where you're in a heightened sense of awareness and everything can seem so much more intense than it really is.  Once you get there, though, you're where you need to be.  You're going to get the help you need, so it's OK to exhale, roll your shoulders back, and let the help happen.  
Your ICE plan doesn't have to be something written down, unless that's what works for you.  Take a minute and identify the closest ER or Urgent Care Clinic (make a note of their business hours...) to your home.  Think about what's involved in getting out of the house quickly if you needed to, and start streamlining that process.  You may never need to deploy (one of my new favorite words!), but if you do, having a grip on it will be a good feeling.

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