Friday, January 8, 2021

The ER Bag

Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.
Over the past few months, my 81 year old mother has had increasing pain in her hip and leg. Now, when I say pain, I don't mean discomfort; I mean PAIN, the kind where all she can do is whimper and it tears my heart out to hear because I can't do anything about it. Last Wednesday night it got so bad that it woke her up around midnight and I had to take her to the ER. 

Because I have elderly parents and late-night ER trips like this are common, I have what I call an "ER Bag", which is a backpack filled with things that make spending interminable hours in hospital chairs a bit more tolerable. 

My bag contains the following:
  • A bottle of Gatorade and a granola bar
  • Pocket change for vending machines
  • Baseball cap 
  • Spare face mask
  • Earplugs
  • Hoodie
  • Small fleece blanket
  • Klymit Cush 
  • Power Bank
  • Wall Charger
  • 3 USB cords
  • Tablet computer with bluetooth mouse & keyboard
  • Ear buds
I'm probably forgetting something I will need in the future, but each time I go to the ER I add to this based upon what I wish I had with me to make me more comfortable. 

Because the backpack isn't full, I can also stuff things into it, like my mother's coat after she takes it off, or bottles of medicine that she's taking, or even her medical records if that's necessary. 

If you end up going to the ER a lot, I recommend you set up a go bag so that you can just "grab it and go" rather than having to take time to get stuff. 

As for my mom, first they gave her morphine which dropped her pain from an 8 to a 1. Then they did x-rays which determined nothing was broken (good) but couldn't account for the pain (bad). Finally they did a CT scan, which detected that something was encroaching upon her lower spine and that was causing the pain. The doctor felt she would probably need an MRI to determine exactly what it was (although she suspect spinal stenosis) but that would have to be scheduled through mom's primary care physician. 

We arrived at the hospital at 12:30. We didn't get home until well after 5 am. I'm mostly back to normal but I'm still not at my best mentally, which is why this post is shorter on meat than most. 


  1. I can't tell you the countless hours my wife and I spent in the ER with my mother. We carried a lot of what you listed.

    1. Ugh, that must have been rough. My condolences to you.

      Do you think I've missed anything?

  2. We are still in this cycle with elderly parents.
    I will review our go bag and bring it in line with your suggestions.
    Thank you for your thoughts and I will add something if I think of it.

  3. For any interminable wait in any public setting i have three or four small dollar toys that toddlers can have. When I get them now they each get placed in a plastic bag. If parent of younger child cannot calm them down with usual things a surprise toy from out of nowhere, even if dorky, tends to to the trick.

    Of course privately ask the parent first. Don't let the kids see it or hear about until permission given. It quiets them down making most others' waits a bit easier too.

  4. The preparedness mindset is so helpful in all kinds of situations. I like this article because it isn't something that I've needed....yet, but I definitely might.

    Thanks again for sharing your hard earned knowledge with us all.


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