Prepared for a Medical Emergency?

Posted by fiesty76 @fiesty76, Oct 11 6:39am

My neighbor friend called Thurs almost hysterical: “Please call 911 and come down. Bob (in mid 80s) has fallen.” When I hurried over, Judy was so red in the face, I was as concerned for her as for Bob. I have never seen someone so flushed. I asked her sit down and fortunately EMS arrived in minutes. Hooray for them!

While others tended to Bob, I asked another to take Judy’s b.p. because I feared a stroke or heart attack. Her b.p. was high but not alarmingly so. Next day I learned she flushes easily but I’d never seen another so startlingly red.

Judy was in such shock that she couldn’t give EMS information…his cardio’s name, which hospital, what medicine’s Bob takes. I reminded her that Bob had a pacemaker, named his cardio because he was the one I’d rec’d to them a few yrs ago and which hospital Bob had put his brother in.
The EMS team were great; it took 4 of them to lift Bob onto a guerney while a 5th one and I tried to get info from Judy.

I told her I couldn’t drive her to the hospital because I am still out of commission with my back. She was in such shock she couldn’t remember how to get to the nearby main street that would take her straight down to the hospital. I wrote directions for her, told her to take Bob’s billfold, ins info, his glasses,her billfold, a mask, her glasses and more. Was there someone she could call to drive her or follow her to the hospital? No, she could do it. She called me about 10 minutes later to say that she had gone to the wrong hospital, much farther away! I asked if she had GPS on her phone or car and she did.

Incredibly there were no broken bones but a cut on his head and his glassy stare as they carted him to ambulance made me think maybe a stroke or heart attack. A brain scan revealed a tumor on the brain which caused a seizure leading to his fall in the bathroom. Determination for surgery has not yet been made.

Living alone, I’d earlier prepared a folder “For Emergency” and have it on credenza by front door. It contains:
1. “Vial of Life” emergency info sheet (www.americanmedicalalarms.com);
2. Medical Directive Concerning Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment (includes DNR) (don’t have web site) Orders differ per state in U.S. and this lists for each.
3. List of doctors; 4. List of medications; 5. copy of insurance card and driver’s license & location of hidden house key

In sharing with another single friend later about this and how Judy was in such shock she couldn’t answer EMS questions or think about what she needed for the hospital, my friend had never considered making this emerg. info. readily available in case of emergency.

Medical emergency information may have been shared and discussed earlier on forums but witnessing first hand how neither the patient nor partner could not provide information to EMS alarmed me so I’m sharing my experience here.

It might be worth a few minutes of preparation to have this info. handy. Best to all.

Great advice! In Texas, with everyone far from loved ones & away from their customary doctors, we share this recommendation with all newcomers in case of emergency. And there has been occasion to use it. Full-time RV'ers who belong to any of the road life groups already know this – and even include the telephone numbers of their permanent doctors.
Please remember to update annually or whenever there are changes – especially meds, doctors and insurance info. One more bit of advice – if you do this make 2 copies (or save one in your computer) – if EMS takes the info along, chances are it will not come home with you – that happened when my Mom was transported for a stroke. Here in MN EMS workers are taught to look for this information on the refrigerator door, and many people post the list there with a note that the Vial of Life is in the freezer.
Sue

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@fiesty76. I agreed. I have typed an emergency information with my daily meds, my children's phone numbers and my doctors business cards stapled together in my wallet. It had come in handy. My children all have copies of my advance directives and POA, and they know where the originals are.

I used to work in a bank and have seen children at a loss of what to do when their parents were suddenly incapacitated. If they were not given POA, or have joint accounts with their parents, financial institutions cannot, by law, release any funds or give them any information about their parents accounts. This include safe deposit boxes. If the children are not named beneficiaries of the account, we cannot release the funds to them should their parents passed away. It would be a good idea to check with your parents banks on these policies so everyone is aware.

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@fiesty76– Sue, I agree, what great advice. I've never heard of Vial of life, am going to look into this for sure. I also advise everyone to make copies of DNR's and if you are hospitalized with something grave, make sure someone gives each head nurse (or whatever they are called notw) gets a copy. Not all records are transported with the patient. This happened to my twin sister, who was resucitated after a heart attack because her DNR wasn't with her. Not a very pleasant thing for her or us, her family.

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Here is another thought that isn't exactly the same, but in the same vein. We have a number of bank, investment, insurance & retirement accounts, not all local. My husband takes care of some, I take care of others. Also many bills are paid automatically out of one or another of the accounts.

We have started a single email account where we direct all "paperless" statements and notices for these accounts and both of us have access. We also have a list of all passwords in our safe (& try to keep it updated.) Our daughters know the location of the information & the combination to the safe (a number meaningful to all of us.) This way, should anything happen to either or both of us, there is a way to retrieve the needed financial information. Our wills, living wills, etc are in the same place, along with car titles & real estate info. As we eventually make final arrangements & create durable powers of attorney we will include that information as well. It was simple to deal with my Mom's final dispositions as she had done all of it in advance, and I want to do the same for my kids.

Sue

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@sueinmn

Great advice! In Texas, with everyone far from loved ones & away from their customary doctors, we share this recommendation with all newcomers in case of emergency. And there has been occasion to use it. Full-time RV'ers who belong to any of the road life groups already know this – and even include the telephone numbers of their permanent doctors.
Please remember to update annually or whenever there are changes – especially meds, doctors and insurance info. One more bit of advice – if you do this make 2 copies (or save one in your computer) – if EMS takes the info along, chances are it will not come home with you – that happened when my Mom was transported for a stroke. Here in MN EMS workers are taught to look for this information on the refrigerator door, and many people post the list there with a note that the Vial of Life is in the freezer.
Sue

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@sueinmn, Thanks Sue. Yes, I keep a handy list of docs &, emerg. contacts with numbers & locations as well as a dated list of all meds, along with health &other ins. cards in billfold as well. Although, my daughter has a copy of what I first posted, I appreciate the tip to make a couple of other filled out copies to have on hand "just in case". I made extra blank copies of the first two docs referred to above to share with others.

Additionally, a couple of years ago, I compiled a comprehensive notebook for myself and a duplicate for my daughter: "URGENT INFORMATION" listing all insurance, banking,investment, utilities, automatic bank pmts for accounts, vet & emerg. vet clinic, credit cards, qtrly tax dates and sources requiring taxes, sources of income, doctors/specialty, prescriptions & otc, property, car and personal maintenance & service people as well as friends, neighbors and online groups and people I corrspd. with regularly. These have acct numbers, locations,phone numbers, etc. Also included is who has keys to my home.

This expandable folder is first in my file cabinet and also contains Estate, Will, legal, medical, POAs and Directives for medical as well as for state banks and investment firms. A last inclusion is a list of what is held in my bank safety deposit box. It took some time to compile this but I set the date of April 15th to update it each year. At least once/yr., if not before, everything gets updated.

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@mayofeb2020

@fiesty76. I agreed. I have typed an emergency information with my daily meds, my children's phone numbers and my doctors business cards stapled together in my wallet. It had come in handy. My children all have copies of my advance directives and POA, and they know where the originals are.

I used to work in a bank and have seen children at a loss of what to do when their parents were suddenly incapacitated. If they were not given POA, or have joint accounts with their parents, financial institutions cannot, by law, release any funds or give them any information about their parents accounts. This include safe deposit boxes. If the children are not named beneficiaries of the account, we cannot release the funds to them should their parents passed away. It would be a good idea to check with your parents banks on these policies so everyone is aware.

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@mayofeb2020, Thank you and I so agree that keeping the info you mention in the wallet is helpful. As my list of meds/scripts and docs grows, I have relied particularly on the list of meds at doc appts and those I do work to keep updated as changes occur.

Also a big thumbs up for your banking work. This may be a story you can relate to as well. As POA for mom, who resided out-of-town, it became necessary for me to establish a new bank account in my city to manage her legal, medical, home health, house maintenance & repair as well as pay home health care wages and social security taxes, her property and income taxes, etc. When I presented my POA to the bank where I had accounts, I was told that changes in the Texas law had changed and that I would have to have an updated POA for her even though we were both residents of TX. Thankfully for us and our longtime family atty., she was alert and capable of signing the updated POA and I was able to establish the new account for her.

Another important point you encourage is for parents to set up joint accounts and to name their beneficiaries and do the same for their safety deposit boxes as well as for their investment accounts. My best friend's daughter created holy mayham over some jointly held financial accounts held by my friend and her guy. When my friend died, the daughter, as Executrix of her mom's estate, continued to create terrible banking, investment and other legal difficulties for my friend's partner of many years.

Too often people don't think think ahead or prepare for the complexities that those left behind will have great difficulty in accessing or managing.

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@sueinmn

Here is another thought that isn't exactly the same, but in the same vein. We have a number of bank, investment, insurance & retirement accounts, not all local. My husband takes care of some, I take care of others. Also many bills are paid automatically out of one or another of the accounts.

We have started a single email account where we direct all "paperless" statements and notices for these accounts and both of us have access. We also have a list of all passwords in our safe (& try to keep it updated.) Our daughters know the location of the information & the combination to the safe (a number meaningful to all of us.) This way, should anything happen to either or both of us, there is a way to retrieve the needed financial information. Our wills, living wills, etc are in the same place, along with car titles & real estate info. As we eventually make final arrangements & create durable powers of attorney we will include that information as well. It was simple to deal with my Mom's final dispositions as she had done all of it in advance, and I want to do the same for my kids.

Sue

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@sueinmn, Yes! My best friends did much the same and set up individual as well as joint accounts which worked beautifully for them until my friend became incapacitated.

Once living together, they also made separate wills which clearly spelled out their intentions ( he has 5 children; she, one) and also had drawn up separate burial and funeral arrangements at a local cemetery. The problem came when they didn't put original wills and burial plans in a bank safety deposit. Instead, they held those in a home safe which the daughter gained access to. The daughter refused my friend access to her mother's will and final plans and as a result sheer bedlam ensued. Luckily, he had given one daughter a set of both documents of his but the unnecessary stress and grief caused by this disruptive mom's daughter has been a constant nightmare that hasn't stopped yet.

Years ago, I attended a seminar for caregivers put on by our hospital. It was truly helpful and I found it a source of encouragement and information I needed. However, I was utterly shocked at how many attendees there had not given thought to taking actions now that could save them a great deal of time and prevent a great deal of difficulty and stress later. Many found it difficult talking to spouse, parent, children about declining health and end of life plans. I hope these posts will alert others who may have been putting plans off for "someday" to reconsider how much easier taking action now can save in grief for those you love later. Best to all.

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@merpreb

@fiesty76– Sue, I agree, what great advice. I've never heard of Vial of life, am going to look into this for sure. I also advise everyone to make copies of DNR's and if you are hospitalized with something grave, make sure someone gives each head nurse (or whatever they are called notw) gets a copy. Not all records are transported with the patient. This happened to my twin sister, who was resucitated after a heart attack because her DNR wasn't with her. Not a very pleasant thing for her or us, her family.

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@merpreb, I am so sorry that happened to your twin and family. Great point and one I would never have thought of. I need to make additional copies of both Physician's Directives and the DNR instructions and hope they get to each person in charge of making the life or death decisions that the patient wants.

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@merpreb

@fiesty76– Sue, I agree, what great advice. I've never heard of Vial of life, am going to look into this for sure. I also advise everyone to make copies of DNR's and if you are hospitalized with something grave, make sure someone gives each head nurse (or whatever they are called notw) gets a copy. Not all records are transported with the patient. This happened to my twin sister, who was resucitated after a heart attack because her DNR wasn't with her. Not a very pleasant thing for her or us, her family.

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@merpreb Here are out building the firemen came to talk with us and gave each of us a vial of life I put all my information in it and in fridge all firemen know to look in the fridge A note in on the door of fridge also they gave us . So call you local fire station or red cross they will be able to help you out . .

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Might I add every person, regardless of age, should take some time to prepare. Many don't because they (especially when younger) assume an air of invincibility, that "it can't happen to me" mentality. I buried my 45-year old husband, and even though fairly prepared (he had cancer), it was so hard emotionally and would have been even more difficult if I didn't know many of these things, like passwords, location of important papers, location of accounts, life insurance policies, etc. Also, if you have minor children, make sure they are protected too. This means doing a will, naming guardians for them until they reach majority age, having adequate life insurance to ensure their lives will be disrupted as little as possible (sadly I did all this 2 months after my husband died, all to protect our then 4-year old son, who tragically died of an undiagnosed rare disease just months later). As "hard" as it may to think of your own mortality, everyone should be prepared, it does make it gentler for those you leave behind. That's my 2 cents worth for the day – take it or leave it.

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Allison Bones — so sorry about the loss of your husband at such a young age. You are right about preparation. We are both well, but when we moved to our independent living apartment, we decided to make things easy for our family and we have prepaid funeral expenses, of course made out a will, named our two oldest children executors, etc. It feels really good that that's done to our satisfaction.

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@lioness

@merpreb Here are out building the firemen came to talk with us and gave each of us a vial of life I put all my information in it and in fridge all firemen know to look in the fridge A note in on the door of fridge also they gave us . So call you local fire station or red cross they will be able to help you out . .

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What does vial of life mean? What goes into it?

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@ihatediabetes Vial of life is just a container to put all your emergency numbers in and information for which hospital Dr you have what diagnosis you have and medications your on so if your unconscious the paramedics will have this information for the hospital Dr. I was told to keep in refrigerator and I have a sign on fridge where to look Hope I explained it right

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@ihatediabetes

What does vial of life mean? What goes into it?

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Hello – You can see a description here. https://www.vialoflife.com/
We can get one from our local fire department. One is suggested for each family member.
Sue

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@sueinmn

Here is another thought that isn't exactly the same, but in the same vein. We have a number of bank, investment, insurance & retirement accounts, not all local. My husband takes care of some, I take care of others. Also many bills are paid automatically out of one or another of the accounts.

We have started a single email account where we direct all "paperless" statements and notices for these accounts and both of us have access. We also have a list of all passwords in our safe (& try to keep it updated.) Our daughters know the location of the information & the combination to the safe (a number meaningful to all of us.) This way, should anything happen to either or both of us, there is a way to retrieve the needed financial information. Our wills, living wills, etc are in the same place, along with car titles & real estate info. As we eventually make final arrangements & create durable powers of attorney we will include that information as well. It was simple to deal with my Mom's final dispositions as she had done all of it in advance, and I want to do the same for my kids.

Sue

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I know it took me a while(in my early 60's, so often thinking "oh, I'm too young for doing this, I'll get to it") but in last couple of months I've gotten a safe deposit box @ credit union(sister has the other key) for vehicle title, extra copies of auto & renter's insurance policies; and almost ready to prepare the living will & DPOA. Atleast for now, several real close relatives know my health-care wishes & it's in my medical chart @ doctor's office. So, slowly am attacking this somewhat-daunting task & giving myself a little credit for that. Every little step is getting me more organized & prepared. Then, finding it bit easier to relax. My Mom had everything in order & passed away of complications d/t Alzheimers so was good that she'd done it years before.

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