Friday, September 14th, 2018 was my 16th wedding anniversary.
It started off as a regular day for me. Got the kids off to school and headed off to see a client. My husband left early for some routine medical testing.
At 11:00am, I got the call that would change everything.
It was my husband. He told me his routine tests results were not good. He was having a medical emergency, affecting his heart, and I needed to get to the hospital right away. The days after that initial call were a blur…
Endless hours in the critical care ICU…
The sound of alarms going off…
A constant barrage of specialists in and out of his room…
Doctors, nurses, surgical teams…
All day surgery…
A second surgery one week after the first…
Uncertainty. Fear. Stress. Exhaustion.
Now, we’re a few weeks removed. After 2 surgeries, my husband is home, recovering but I want to share my experience from that day and the weeks that have followed and how important it is to be organized in every aspect of your life.
No one wants to get that call.
You never think at 42-years old, you’ll get that call.
What would you do?
Who do you call?
Who’s your person?
Who will handle the things that you can’t…home, school, kids, work?
6 Ways to Be Organized In Case Of A Family Emergency
- Know Your Point People
For Communication: My husband has one brother so it was a no brainer to make him the point person. I shared all the details with him so he could communicate with others. You will not have the time or the energy to deal with phone calls. Your focus is on the person in crisis.
For You: Contact a close friend who can be there for you at the hospital. It’s a scary time and you do not want to go it alone. Your head and your heart are going a mile a minute and you need someone you can lean on. This person can also run quick errands if needed and make sure you are taking care of yourself.
For Home/Kids: We all have emergency contacts on file, at school, for our kids. Make sure that those individuals KNOW that they are your emergency contacts. Seems obvious but make certain. If the situation is urgent enough, your emergency contact may need to take your children overnight. Are they okay with that? Are you? Make sure that you have your children’s school phone number (and address) as well as your emergency contacts’ phone number (and address) in your phone so you can easily contact them AND share that info with your point people.
- Grab The Essentials
Thankfully, I only live 15 minutes from the hospital. Once my husband was settled, in the ICU, I ran home and packed an overnight bag. That included:
- Layers of clothing (since hospitals are notoriously cold)
- Enough clothing for a couple of nights
- Warm socks
- Headache relief
- Chargers for my devices/electronics
- My own pillow
- My warm snuggle
- Non-perishable snacks and drinks
Now that you have the list of essentials…think…
Could you (OR SOMEONE ELSE) pack your essentials in just 15 minutes?
Would they easily find everything if you couldn’t leave the hospital?
Is your closet a mess?
Is your bathroom over-run with stuff?
Is that helpful friend or family member going to pack the jeans that don’t fit?
Or those yoga pants that have a hole in the knee?
Everything about the hospital experience is uncomfortable, stressful and uncertain. Your comfy clothes & must-have essentials provide such a comfort. Being organized saves time & reduces stress…on the daily.
Do not wait to declutter that closet or organize that pantry & bathroom!
- Ask For Help
Asking for help is hard. But, you know what? People WANT to help so LET them.
I’m always the first person to raise my hand when people are in need. Now I’m the one that needs help. I was most concerned about my children and needed a lot of help taking care of their everyday needs, trying to maintain some sense of normalcy in their daily lives. I called upon my friends from my women’s networking group, the Bizzy Mamas.
My point person there provided updates to the group and was able to coordinate food deliveries (in disposable containers, no less, so no dishes!), essentials & transportation for the kids and more daily tasks. They jumped right in and took care of so much!
- Surrender Your Home
For the first week, I was home for less than one hour a day. I came home to shower, hug my kids and make sure there was enough food in the house.
After Day 1, we knew it was going to be at least 10 days in the hospital. My
in-laws stayed in my home, without me there, for at least a week. They had, certainly, been there many times before but this time was different. They were staying overnight, caring for my home and children, getting them on and off the bus, and, just for kicks, dealing with the tail-end of a 6-month home renovation.
Would you be able to surrender your home to others?
Are you the only one who can find things in the home?
Is your guest bedroom ready for last minute, extended stay guests?
Would guests know where to find towels, sheets, etc.?
Start now. Thinking about making your home “user-friendly.” In case of emergency, loved ones and trusted friends can come in & seamlessly take care of the important things…rather than spending time searching the house for those everyday items or worse…calling you to ask where they can find something.
- Get Your Affairs in Order
When faced with life and death situations you need to be prepared…for the worst case scenario.
Have the tough talks well in advance.
Thankfully, our wills were already professionally prepared and up to date. And make sure you’ve discussed any advanced medical directives. This is the last thing this 42 year old EVER wanted to discuss with my 45 year old husband. But it was our reality, right in our face, and we had to be prepared.
If you don’t have a will, do it now!
- Share Your Passwords
Thankfully my husband and I are organized with our passwords for all of our monthly bills. While he is the one that manages the household finances and pays the monthly bills, we were already prepared in case something happened. I would still be able to pay the bills on time, do the banking and not have an issue.
That is not always the case. We all have our household roles, be it school contact, meals, finances, etc…but could your spouse take over your role, seamlessly, if you were unavailable, impaired or worse? Share those passwords.
Write them down or save them in a secure location so that your spouse can access them in case of emergency.
I hope that this advice will help someone else when they are faced with what I experienced last month. Don’t put off the big things. Have the hard conversations, get organized and do your very best to be prepared…for the best and the worst of times.