One would think I’d learn.

A year and a half ago I wrote something called Planning For Family Emergencies when my mother unexpectedly got sick and I found myself not knowing how I was going to pay my bills or my mother’s bills, not knowing what plans she’d made for herself or my grandmother, not even knowing who her physicians were.

This time around I ran into things I should have known about already, yet wasn’t ready for the call from my mother telling me my grandmother had fallen earlier in the day and now wouldn’t move. Not thinking about the worst I hopped in the car and drove the 90 minutes there, only to find her in an almost fetal position, in pain yet not overly responsive other than a few words, and not ready to be moved at all.

A quick call via 9-1-1, which produced the fire chief, two fire engines and finally an ambulance (overkill of course yet it almost seemed a fitting tribute to my grandmother) bringing 24 people, 6 of which it took to try to get my grandmother out of her bed, onto a gurney and to the emergency room, took care of the immediate need, which was diagnosed as a fractured hip. However, at the same time, it brought up some things that I probably should have thought about ahead of time, but didn’t because my mother hadn’t fully conveyed the emergent nature of what was going on.

My first fault was not anticipating that anything happening to a 90-year old woman would probably be catastrophic in some fashion. The second was not anticipating that the need might arise for me to stay overnight, as it did those 18 months ago.

This means I had no clothes; I had no medicine; I had no computer so I could work. This time around I did have some information with me so I could contact people. But I had no files and no passwords so I couldn’t work. And I didn’t have access to medication or a change of clothes since we didn’t leave the hospital until after midnight and at that time of night my mother had no idea how to find an all-night Walmart, let alone any ready-made food; thank goodness for Wegmans!

Those of us with older parents really do need to be prepared for any emergency, and that includes making sure we’ve taken care of ourselves. To this end as soon as I got home tonight I put a pair of pants and two shirts into a bag that I can quickly grab. I was smart enough to leave socks and underwear at my mother’s house, but I’m going to need to buy extra toiletries for the other bag. Medication is something else; I’m just going to have to start remembering to carry all my pills and insulin with me whenever I leave town. The same goes for my CPAP, as I pretty much beat up the bed in trying to sleep, and I’ve been exhausted and lethargic without it.

In other words, preparation of more than just money and information is needed because you just never know what you’re potentially walking into. Of course this is specific to personal issues, but it also applies to work issues. We all have supplies, but how many of us remember to have small toolkits for those “just in case” times? How often have you found yourself wishing you has a small screwdriver? Making sure you have what you need, even if it’s just a small pair of pliers or even tweezers, could make your life easier in your workplace.

In case you’re wondering all is well. My grandmother has had her operation, my mother will take a pill to sleep tonight, and I’m back home ready to sleep with my CPAP and, hopefully, get some work done in the next two days to catch up. A little wiser and smarter as well; I hope you follow some of these examples for yourself, just in case.

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