What I Learned From A Trip To The Emergency Room
Recently I had to listen to reason and go to the Emergency Room. It was something that I've never thought I would have do, but the situation was scary enough that I had to ask for help. Honestly, I thought that I was having a heart attack. Thankfully that was not the case, but my heart rate was elevated above 140 at rest. Earlier that day, it was above 160 and accompanied by pain under my arm. Needless to say, I was more concerned with what was happening than the bill. In the end, the official diagnosis was severe dehydration and acute respiratory infection.
When we arrived at the ER, I was taken back fairly quickly because of the elevated heart rate, and without much hesitation, the possibilities concerning what was happening were brought up. The ER physician thought that I either had pneumonia or a blood clot in my lung.
As she began talking about these two things, all I could think about was how mom must have felt each time that she had to go to the emergency room.
I was scared, not just about the immediate situation. I was scared about the bills, the kids, and how this would effect our plans.
Then they began to order tests. I was rolled down the hall two separate times for x-rays and a CT Scan. I remembered how it felt to being rolled down the hall for the minor surgeries that I've had, but this was different. This time, I was worried. Would this be the beginning of a lifetime of tests? Would I be diagnosed with COPD? My mind was racing. I thought about the many times that mom had be taken down the hall for tests, the weight of knowing that her COPD was progressing, and the worry about how this would effect the family.
My small children were in the room along with my husband. It was late, and my youngest had already fallen asleep in the stroller. My oldest knew that things were not right and mommy was not well. He was worried, in his little five year old way. He watched me through the mesh where he was also laying back in the stroller. I knew that he remembered my mom being in the hospital before she moved to heaven, so I was worried about him and how he was processing the situation.
So why did I tell you all of this?
I am sharing this frightening time in my life because I realized in those few hours just how afraid my mom must have been. I also realized how much a calm voice and a peaceful spirit, can change the atmosphere of the room. I knew this was true before because mom taught me how important it was to remain calm and peaceful in difficult situations, but in the emergency room, I experienced this myself as my husband became the calm one.
I am also telling you this because as a caregiver you may think that you understand, and you may really be trying to understand. However in reality, you do not fully know what your loved one is going through until you have to face these fears yourself. It is important to recognize this as you are talking to your loved one, but this is not a license to give up on trying to understand. In fact, I hope you will try harder to place yourself in the shoes of your loved one to imagine some of the emotions and physical limitations. Your loved one will know when you are genuinely trying to understand how they feel.
Your loved one knows that you will not fully understand, but seeing you try to empathize will give your loved one more confidence that you care.
Years ago I learned that being in the hospital as the caregiver is hard, but recently I learned that being the patient is much harder.
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