Ten Tips For A Medical Emergency On The Road

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Today was A DAY.

But before it all went to hell, me and this kid had an awesome time traipsing through a magical forest. Beautiful, right?

Then we stopped for lunch, and shortly after, I had a serious allergic reaction to the food we had eaten. We were standing in line at Walmart to pick up Bishop’s prescription and he literally watched the hives crawl down my neck and arms. My stomach and back were covered too.



I might have startled the Walmart pharmacist when I asked if she could please hurry things right along because our next stop was the ER for an increasing allergic reaction.

Finally, Anaphylaxis.

The whole ER doctor holding your hand telling you that THIS IS A LIFE THREATENING SITUATION thing.

In a strange town.

Away from three of my kids.

With no other adult.

No other driver.

It was THE scariest thing I have ever faced on the road.

And even more terrifying is that we still aren’t 100% sure what I reacted to. Everything I ate were foods that I have eaten before. The doctor said that is often the case. So we have a list of possible foods. And that got narrowed down even further just because some foods are statistically more allergenic than others. Peanuts, tomatoes, and red food coloring top the list of suspects. Fingers crossed it isn’t peanuts because y’all know with four kids we LIVE on peanut butter sandwiches.

After the doctor got my airways reopened we had to stick around for observation. With nothing but time on our hands…well… We did what you do with teenagers. We laughed at a bunch of memes and travelled the world looking at beautiful pictures.

After calling my husband, daughter, and mom, of course.

But even the internet gets boring after a while when you’re hopped up on adrenaline so I decided a blog post was in order.

This post. So if you ever find yourself in a medical emergency, you know what to do.

Ten Tips For Medical Emergencies On The Road

1. If you think you’re having a medical emergency, call 911. Do not drive yourself to the hospital like I did. One, you are a danger to yourself and everyone else on the road. Two, they take you a lot less seriously when you’re the one holding the keys. For real, I got put in the slow lane at the ER because I was coherently speaking, standing, and admitted that I not only had driven myself in but actually hesitated to come in at all.

Probably shouldn’t have said that.

At any rate it quickly became apparent that I really was a medical dilemma even if I was too stubborn to act like it so they took me right back to a room and got busy.

2. While you wait, write down an account of everything that happened leading up to you deciding to go to the ER. A teenage boy is especially helpful in this situation because he will record everything on the phone for you. Trust me, as symptoms increase you’re going to forget things. If someone is with you they can help fill in the blanks. For me it was remembering everything I had eaten. It helped pare down a huge list of possible allergens to about three.

3. Speaking of recording things on the phone… Keep a copy of your insurance cards, address, phone number, and ID on your phone. Trust me, your teenager can find it. At the very least show the teenager which cards are which and possibly keep them stacked together in your wallet. If you have more than one insurance card labelling them as primary and secondary is also helpful. Our insurance lady came in during my breathing treatment so I was useless to answer questions. Thankfully we were prepared for this after our tire blowout taught us to keep insurance information on the phone.

4. Keep a list of medications, both pharmaceutical and herbal, on your phone too. If you take anything on the way to the hospital, bring the whole bottle with you and note the time that you took it.

5. Listen to your doctor. Ask questions. And don’t be afraid to say no or ask for alternatives. An ER doctor is meeting you for the first time and is solely focused on treating the emergency in front of them. They don’t know you on a long term basis but you do. You know how you’re going to react to things. I react badly to Benadryl and I also have an autoimmune disease that reacts strangely to things. I gladly took the Epinephrine, Prednisone, and Albuterol to help me breathe. But I dug in my heels with the Benadryl and asked for an alternative. I also heavily questioned the other stomach medication because of how strangely I have reacted to similar medications in the past.

6. Pay attention to what you are signing. This is where a second person is handy. One of the questions I got asked was if I was okay with the hospital using extra blood or tissue for research or donating it for research. You may or may not be okay with that. I can’t remember ever being asked that question so it took a few times hearing it for it to make sense.

7. Fill your prescriptions promptly. I was starving when we finally got released but went to the pharmacy to pick up my EpiPen first because heaven forbid I have another reaction without it. That and it was super amusing to go back and see the same pharmacist from earlier.

8. Always have a long charger stashed in your truck. Those little three foot things are not going to cut it in a hospital bed, and trust me, your phone battery is going to die. It’s a law of the universe.

9. Call important people periodically to keep them updated. This will keep you and them calm. I had a perfectly capable teenager in charge at home, but this gave us a chance to soothe fears and answer questions that they didn’t think of when initially being told that Mommy was in the hospital.

10. Set aside enough money in your budget to cover your copay. Knowing that the visit is already paid for eliminates at least one factor that might make you hesitate to get help. A great program to help with this is called You Need A Budget. (Referral link to a free trial — This is the budgeting program that we use.)

Bonus Tip: Trust your gut. Even if you think you’re better, trust your instinct that told you to seek help.

I had super fast spreading hives and my throat started swelling. Deep breaths were difficult. I immediately hit the Navigation Search button on the phone and croaked, “Emergency Room Near Me.” It was less than a mile. I nudged the pharmacist to go a little faster (I absolutely was not leaving without my son’s heart medication), and by the time we got there and found a parking spot for the dually (no easy feat in a hospital parking lot) most of my hives were fading. I sensed swelling but I could still swallow. It wasn’t getting worse. Deep breaths resulted in coughing but it seemed like the whole thing was passing. I almost convinced myself that I was overreacting and should just go home to finish sleeping it off with an antihistamine. That would have been a bad idea since five minutes later things got much worse.

So where does that leave us? A little terrified of food. A little more appreciative of the need to make emergency preparations before they are needed on the road. Definitely more willing to listen to my body. And a whole lot more grateful for this life I have. Medical emergencies are scary, but if you live, there is no reason to stop living.

Keep following your dreams.

I can do this.

And you can too.

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