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In college, I was the unfortunate friend who had a car and got called every time someone needed to go the emergency room. After a few times of dragging myself out of bed to bring sick friends to the ER, I got good at knowing what to pack. I also learned emergency rooms are for emergencies, not for stuff that can wait till the morning.
- First be a jerk and ask if they really need to go. Before you commit your time to driving your buddy all the way to the emergency room and sit there for hours, figure out if it’s necessary. Is it just a bad cold that you can get some cough syrup for at the 24-hr pharmacy? Can it wait for the morning?
- Check every other option. Is there an alternative care center? An on-campus nurse or doctor’s office if you are a college student? Is there a chance your buddy’s primary care physician is working late today? Does your insurance has a 24-hr hotline? Is there any possible way to avoid the ER?
- Pack water. Sure your buddy gets an IV and maybe a cup of water, but not you. You get to pay for overpriced bottle water from the vending machine. Because, let’s be real, don’t drink from the water fountain at the emergency room. Every other sick guy in here has already slobbered over it. (My favorite water bottle, surviving my tough love.)
- Pack food. Although your buddy might not want food. He might be puking his brains out or sick as a dog. But you are sitting there past your bed time, past dinner time, past breakfast and all of a sudden you envy the tiny green mystery jello on his tray. (At least pack delicious protein bars.)
- Bring your phone’s power cord. You will most likely be texting everyone they know; their parents, their roommates, and it will slowly suck the life from your phone. And his too, grab his charger too. (Bonus if they are the same and you only need one.) Oh yeah, then as the night turns to day, and he is passed out asleep on his nice bed you will be slouched in the chair texting anyone awake just to stay sane.
- Bring pain meds. Not for your buddy, he gets the good stuff from the nurses. But you, you don’t. Slowly, the headache will start from the beeping machines and the shuffling nurses. Then the screaming patient is put in the same room as your buddy, and the next guy over is half-deaf but still wants to watch TV. As if that wasn’t enough, slouching in that chair all night has given your back a beating. You’ll be glad for a few Advil after awhile. (Buy in bulk!)
- Bring your tablet or computer. Sure you risk it getting stolen by the homeless drunk in the corner. But more likely, you will go insane after the late night news programs and daytime television. Most places have free wifi, so you while none of your friends are awake you can still refresh Facebook every few minutes to see if anything is new. (But don’t forget your charger, see number 5.)
- Lastly, stay happy. Sure your buddy is grumpy for being sick. The guy next to you is still screaming, the nurses are tired of being on their feet all day. But you got to stay positive, it won’t do your buddy any good if you get short with him. Sure you are exhausted, hungry, late to work, or missing homework; but your buddy needs you to stay calm and cool. But most importantly, he needs you not to freak out or stress out or bail out. Laughter is the best medicine, and it all starts with you.
Pack a Go-Bag:
Pack a bag by the door for unexpected trips to the emergency room, so everything you need is in one place.
- Food (My favorite Protein bars, chocolate, etc)
- Water (my trusty stair-case proof water bottle)
- Phone chargers
- Important #'s
- Small Pillow
- Extra Sweater/Change of clothes
Thanks for reading! What do you bring to the emergency room when you have to go for a friend or family member?
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