Thursday, March 6, 2014

5 Ways to Avoid Becoming My Patient

I haven't been a nurse for very long when I compare my career to some of the Pros out there, but I have learned a few things. One of the main ones is this: PREVENTION. With all of the sickness, chronic illness and emergency situations we've got out there, there is often a common theme: This Could Have Been Prevented (or, at least lessened to some degree). With this in mind, I sought the assistance and advice my dear friend Meredith, who is basically Wonder Woman: she's in the ER for work, and a Paramedic in her spare time:

This is what Mer looks like on the inside, under the scrubs.
SO, without further ado (too late!) I present to you:

1. Don't be Stupid
Seriously, people. To quote Meredith: "if it seems like a bad idea, it probably is". A lot of injuries occur because people think things like "just for a second" or "that can't happen to me". It can, it will, and you will be in the ER with Wonder Woman piecing you back together again, because you were dumb enough to stick your hand into the snow blower. (Then again, maybe the ER with Wonder Woman isn't such a bad thing...)

2. Just Stop
Smoking, drinking, eating crap all the time, not exercising etc. etc. etc. Just as the people above think "it'll never happen to me" before they go and do something dumb, so also do TONS of people think this about their long-term health choices. Some chronic health conditions have genetic components, or environmental factors, but even in those situations, YOU are the biggest piece of the puzzle. Yes, I am being a meanie here, but coronary artery disease doesn't just land in your lap one day: it takes years and years of poor decision-making regarding your health. Cardiac and pulmonary diseases aren't pretty. You are the one with the power over your choices, and you can decide now to make better ones. We are called to be good stewards of all the gifts God gives us; this includes our health and our bodies. 


3. Educate Yourself
With the above in mind, if you are in a chronic health situation, or have a family history of a particular disease, or are a parent who will probably run into some health crises at some point (so...everyone): do some reading on the subject. Plain old Google searches will get you pretty far, although be careful about drawing too many conclusions without consulting your doctor:

But in truth, even if you are in poor health, you shouldn't throw in the towel. There is a lot of benefit from making healthy choices now, and turning things around. Did your doctor tell you that your cholesterol levels are off? Is your blood pressure running high at every month's parish health check? Do some research and find out what you need to do to turn things around and stay ahead of the game.

4. Give Your Child the Motrin
This is a special PSA from Meredith. She says that 9 out of 10 times in the ER, she just has to give a sick/fevered child Motrin, make sure they can take in a Popsicle, and they are good to go home. This is encouraging, that there aren't more worse situations going on, but the point is that you can do those things at home and avoid the germ-y ER.  Don't wait to intervene for your child. If she is sick, or has a fever, keep her well hydrated and give the appropriate dose of Tylenol or Motrin. You can help to bring down a fever by applying cool cloths to the forehead or body, and by making sure her fluids aren't depleted: dehydration will cause/worsen fever. Of course, you should contact your baby's or toddler's pediatrician if you are concerned or have more serious issues.


5. Think Ahead
This piece is in regards to being elderly, so it's for all of us, so long as we make it to age 65+ by following steps 1-4 (::wink::). You are eventually going to be frail, and unable to do a lot of the tasks that are mundane and easy right now. Plan ahead for some of the bigger questions:
-who is going to help you?
-what modifications need to be made to your home to make it safe for you to live in? (necessities on one floor, walk-in shower, wheel-chair accessibility)
-does someone close to you know your wishes for medical interventions?
Also plan some of the smaller things, like taking extra time to be safe. Don't go running down an icy set of stairs in ridiculous (or even sensible) shoes. Your hips might not lie, but they can break!

You can get pretty far with some common sense and an internet connection, but if you get into trouble, always remember to be nice to your nurse...she's the one with the needles!


  1. Guilty as charged on #4…just a few weeks ago my nearly-two-year-old son was screaming and screaming for hours (of course it was late at night and into the wee hours, well after the urgent care clinics were closed.) I took him to the ER (where amazingly we were the only ones in the waiting room!) and it turned out to be nothing worse than an ear infection. I should have done the Tylenol route but honestly it didn't even come to mind. Oops. I'll keep it in mind for next time :)

    1. Oh, I know! It's so hard when little ones are sick! :( (and they don't pick opportune times to do it, do they?!). A lot of times there's something we can try at home first, but it's always better safe than sorry w/ kiddos. :)

  2. #1 is my favorite. I don't even want to ask how many stupid people you see. Love the ending sentence of #3 as well - it always makes me sad how many Christians don't see this as part of their wholeness. I do #3 rather frequently, and nearly every time I have 4 seconds of panic before realizing I can usually figure out the problem and fix it myself or wait it out without worry. =)


Your comment gold brightens my day...