Mesothelioma patients and their caregivers benefit from planning ahead for a medical emergency. Preparing medical documents and an emergency care kit in advance will ease stress and help you respond quickly if a medical emergency arises.
Complications of mesothelioma and its treatment can sometimes lead to medical emergencies. Problems may develop any time of day or night, and they usually happen suddenly.
Getting prepared ahead of time can help patients and caregivers feel collected and ready to take action when a medical emergency happens.
Ask your doctors for guidance about when you should go to the emergency room. They can tell you the signs and symptoms that warrant an ER visit.
Signs of an emergency include a fever above 101 degrees, drastically worsening symptoms, severe and sudden chest pain or severe difficulty breathing. If symptoms such as these arise, it is better to be safe and get checked quickly than to hope you will feel better soon.
If you’re participating in a clinical trial, ask your nurse or oncologist for a list of potential serious side effects to look out for. If you develop any signs of serious side effects, you should go to the ER immediately.
For example, pleural mesothelioma survivor Jim McWhorter had to make an ER visit after starting a clinical trial because of a side effect called capillary leak syndrome.
The first step to preparing your emergency plan is gathering all important medical information. Then, you can make a medical emergency kit with everything else you might need for an ER visit or overnight hospital stay.
Placing this information in a folder in your medical emergency kit will help you answer questions quickly and accurately in a crisis situation.
Water and snacks: Include several bottles of water or at least two empty water bottles to refill. Have a few packaged snacks on hand in case the hospital kitchen is closed and no vending machines are nearby.
Medical documents and supplies: Bring any helpful medical supplies including your medical documents, medicines, topical creams and medical devices.
Entertainment: Plan to spend several hours of downtime in the ER. Bring abook, magazines, technology devices and a deck of cards or any games you like to play.
Device chargers: Be sure to pack chargers for your cell phones and any other devices such as laptops and tablets.
Spare cash or change: Vending machines often accept credit cards, but it doesn’t hurt to have some cash on hand if you run out of snacks and drinks.
Toiletries and change of clothes: Medical emergencies sometime require an overnight stay at the hospital. Bring a change of clothes and essential toiletries. Little comforts like this help you feel more at ease.
Your medical emergency kit can be as big or small as you want to make it. Some people opt for a streamlined kit that’s small and only includes the essentials. Others opt for a fuller kit that includes comforting and entertaining items as well.
This kind of kit will also come in handy if a natural disaster strikes.
Coping with a medical emergency is physically and emotionally challenging. Preparing as best you can in advance will help you respond well and process stress in healthier ways.
Joining the team in February 2008 as a writer and editor, Michelle Whitmer has translated medical jargon into patient-friendly information at Asbestos.com for more than eight years. Michelle is a registered yoga teacher, a member of the Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine, and was quoted by The New York Times on the risks of asbestos exposure. Read More