As the mother of children, especially children with disabilities, I have been a frequent visitor to emergency rooms. It didn’t take me long to realize that those hours spent W A I T I N G were tedious for my kiddo and myself. In fact, for my kiddos with ADHD, they could be dangerous. With Steven, he would open all of the drawers and fling the contents onto the ground, swing from the air hoses and climb on top of the curtain. He was generally uncontrollable in an environment that he saw as a playground and I saw full of dangers that would land him in an emergency room for a reason other than for that which we had come! I had a knot in my stomach and tears of frustration. The emergency room staff and I finally learned that the only examining room suitable for Steven was one for psychiatric patients…no drawers, no air hoses, no curtains to climb. That solved the problem somewhat…but the long wait was also a major issue. Visits to the emergency room often ran six, seven hours, and sometimes all night! What to do? What to do? What to do?
Alas, out of need emerged my “emergency room purse”:
*Extra copies of medical cards and social security cards; when under duress with a screaming child coming in with the ambulance, rummaging through my wallet for these items always seems problematic and adds to my stress.
* A written medical history for each child; remembering those pesky spelled medication names and listing hospitalizations and diagnosis are always nerve wracking, having them at your fingertips is priceless.
*Quarters and crisp dollar bills for the vending machines.
*Animal and peanut butter crackers along with some juice boxes so I don’t have to spend so MUCH at the vending machines. (Dispensation of food and drink dependent upon reason for visit to emergency room)
*Cell phone charger (hours waiting…games to play…people to call…need I say more?)
*A deck of playing cards, INVALUABLE for killing time, and also for great mother/child bonding.
*Manipulative toys for kiddos with ADHD…nothing like having that coil to twirl or that Rubik’s Cube to solve.
*Extra diaper/underwear and pants unless the child prefers to go home in a hospital johnny. (My daughter, Marie, actually loves the hospital clothing and has a whole drawer full…starting from small sizes when she was young up to the adult sizes she wears now.)
*Chap stick; the rest of me may look like Frankenstein’s monster, but my lips will be smooth and pretty.
*A large print, best selling book for me to read; when a kiddo is sleeping, (YAY!) the lighting may be dim and my eyes may be teary, but large print has always served me well.
My life has been spent trying to remain sane while raising children who can be difficult. Emergency room visits are always stressful and my mitigating solution is the “going to the hospital” purse.
Not to be confused with my “going to the movies” purse…
The Apple Tree: Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane
Authored by Linda Petersen
The link to the book: