Make ER Visits Less Stressful

I cannot begin to tell you how many bad migraineur emergency room experiences I’ve heard of and read about. I have experienced a couple myself.

I think there are a variety of factors that converge to create the perfect storm of misunderstanding and bad attitudes. Some of it is certainly on the doctors and other associated treatment providers. Yet, there are probably tendencies among patients that contribute to the problem. Overcrowding of emergency departments must be considered as a contributing factor, as well.

After one particularly horrible experience, I decided I would never again set foot in the local emergency department. Never.

As the saying goes, never say never. Though I valiantly held out for a long time, a horrible, unrelenting migraine settled in on me and nothing I could do for myself was treating it, so I caved. I guess I had to get to the point that I either had to get better or die to put myself in that situation again.

I cannot say for sure why things went so well. I don’t doubt that my preparation helped, but I also feel certain that I had the right doctor and nurses that night.

As I have mentioned before, I keep a word processing document detailing all the pertinent information about my migraine disease – my doctors and their contact information, daily meds, treatment meds, medical history, family history, and so on. I always take up-to-date copies of the document with me to doctors appointments, so I grabbed a copy as we walked out the door to head to the ER.

I found it really helpful to have all that information written out because it is so hard to think and communicate clearly when you are in that much pain, even if your speech is not impaired when you have a migraine. I have rarely experienced that, but I know other people do more routinely, so bringing this kind of document might particularly helpful to you.

They whisked me back to a quiet, dark room and asked if we needed anything. We waited a very short time for the doctor – it’s hard to remember, but I’m guessing it was about 15 minutes. When the doctor walked in she asked me just a few questions and suggested they set me up with an IV of Ativan, Toradol, and Compazine. It took a few minutes to get the IV started, probably because I was extremely dehydrated and have difficult veins, but the nurse was great.

I cannot promise that setting up this kind of document will be the key to a successful ER visit. But it certainly can’t hurt and is a good way to show the treatment providers that you are not a drug seeker – you have been diagnosed and treated as a migraineur. The additional credibility might make a difference to a skeptical treatment provider.

I usually appreciate it when someone provides an example of what she is describing, so I thought I’d share a generic version of the document I’m talking about. Follow this link to view an example using Google Docs:

Health Summary Example

There are many different ways of doing this, so let me know if you have suggestions to improve upon my format or have your own version of it that you’d like to share.