Friday, July 5, 2013

Sitting in the ER

A friend had an allergic reaction tonight. It was really scary. I suggested Benedryl, but he didn't want to take it. He kept getting worse as I drove him to the hospital. At one point I was speeding a bit, but he suggested I slow down.

I got him to the ER. As soon as we were seated, he was called. He started to get worse, as he was asked necessary, but most inconvenient, questions at a time like that. He was shaking, and speaking softly. At some point, he said he was having trouble seeing, and was nausous.

The nurse continued to do her job. Everything seemed almost too slow, given how things seemed to be. She got him a wheelchair, but he was so weak, he could barely get into it. They took him back immediately, and as they were doing whatever they were doing, he was saying how nauseous he was, and how he could not see. He said he felt like he was going to pass out. Suddenly, without warning, he threw up.

It was so difficult to watch. And when he said he couldn't see, he was relatively calm. I, though, was pretty scared for him. That couldn't be good. None of it could be.

So after an array of excitement, he now rests beside me. Odd being in this side of things. I do not think there ever has been a time when I have been in this position. As scared as I was for him, I am simultaneously grateful that it was not me on that side of the poking and prodding.

A few things I will share from this event:

1. If someone on the way to the ER says they are nauseous, take some sort of bag with you. even if they think they are, or will be, OK, a bag will help if there comes a moment of real need.

2. If someone you know has an allergic reaction to something, consider Benedryl. I am no doctor, so I won't advise you to do anything. However, when we got to the hospital they said that Benedryl would have been a good idea - even if it came up when the other things did.

3. If you wear glasses, consider carrying an eyeglass case. My friend wears glasses, and I am sitting here holding them so they do not get lost or destroyed. If I at least had a case for my glasses, I could have put his glasses in it. When I had surgery, I gave my glasses to my sister, with no case, and when surgery was over, the glasses were lost. In the midst of everything, somehow they got misplaced. In both cases, an eyeglass case would have been a good, and helpful, thing.

4. I so often speak of cancer and its effect on life. Tonight I think my friend could have lost his - and it had nothing to do with cancer. Once again I am reminded of the VERY sudden turns that life can take, and how one minute you can be sitting, eating dinner, laughing, and the next minute running to the hospital with a life-threatening reaction.

For others, in other places, and for other reasons, the end of today won't bring the ending desired. Thankfully in this case, it looks like my friend will live to see another day.
It's now 1:00am. We just got home from the hospital. One thing the nurse said when we left was that sometimes people are fine with something, until they are so not fine with it.

Whatever my friend was not fine with almost killed him tonight. The nurse said if it ever happens again, it might be best to call for an ambulance, as they can start to treat immediately.

It might be good to know these things. It could save someone's life. http://www.m.webmd.com/allergies/guide/anaphylaxis.

It sucks that we often don't know something until we have a need to know, and sometimes it can be too late to help. I am so grateful tonight was not one of those times.

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  1. Also be grateful because your timely action saved your friend's life. Insightful post.

  2. We can never take it lightly when some one complained about some sort of discomfort. We never know what caused it or whether its life threatening or not. So glad that your friend is fine now.

  3. So glad that your friend is OK. I had a similar experience with a friend years ago that turned out to be a brain aneurysm which had burst. Unfortunately it wasn't diagnosed that night in the ER...instead they thought that it was food poisoning. It took another 2 days to get the right diagnosis...and she was walking around. In the end she is fine, but it took much time for her to heal and it was scary to go through it with her that night.

    My first reaction would be to drive the friend to the hospital too. Until the last couple of years I have always thought that using an ambulance is only for the most serious of cases. However, another benefit of the ambulance is that he would already be laying down on the stretcher when he got to the hospital. That way he wouldn't have to expend energy to move around. Ambulances come with two people that are pretty sturdy. With only the 2 of you in the car something could have happened and there wouldn't be enough help for either of you.

    Medical professionals have told me that getting someone to the hospital quickly (the window of opportunity) can make the difference in survival of the patient or the condition they can expect to be in when it is over.

  4. Good post. I have driven many people to the ER, and been driven there myself. I actually carry a puke kit in my van. That's what I call it. It has multiple Wal-Mart type plastic bags, gallon baggies, a hand towel, and a pack of Clorox wipes and a pack of baby wipes. All of that is in a plastic shoebox with a lid. I can't begin to explain how many times this has come in handy in the past two years since I started carrying it. I also carry Benedryl in my purse. It has almost no side effects but sleepiness and can save lives. So I find it handy to carry.