Sooner or later it will happen – you’re going to have a bad day and you’re going to feel completely screwed. It’s happened to me a few times over the years and it usually involves a car. My husband and I share one car and this usually works out well for us. Then there are the peak vacation times when I discover at the grocery store that the new car battery is defective and have to call a tow truck (and front the cash) call a taxi (with cash on hand) find the one car left in town that has not been rented out and take a $48 ride to pick it up. In 97 degree heat. It was this particular occasion as the stress and heat ganged up on my MS that I realized I needed to prepare better. We must be prepared for Multiple Sclerosis emergencies.
I say this all the time, but it bears repeating that we all have different situations. If you live in a significant city, public transportation may be in surplus. If you live in a micro city like mine, then you’ll wait an hour for the taxi after you call it… if they come at all.
In my younger days I gave towels as milestone gifts sometimes to friends who read books by Douglas Adams. If you’ve never heard of him, the gist of the idea was that you could handle anything in life as long as you had your towel. That really makes a lot more sense if you read The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy… I guess I should have given sunglasses instead because as I’ve grown older I’ve witnessed that most people generally ignore the catastrophes around them (another Douglas Adams reference). Unfortunately, real life isn’t quite that tidy.
The more prepared you are, the less stressed you will be when things go awry. You never know what the future holds, but here are a few practical tips to prepare you for the unexpected:
- Communication: These days it’s probably cheaper to have a mobile phone than a landline, and you can carry it with you at all times!
- Transportation: Look up your local taxi services – enter them (clearly labeled) into your cell phone contact list.
- Money: Keep some cash on hand that you reserve solely for emergency situations. For me, $100 will just cover a tow and a taxi. Lots of services require cash.
- Medical Emergencies: Know where your local emergency rooms are and find out if they have special policies. One local ER for me takes reservations on their website so that you can avoid the waiting room. Know routes to get to them quickly in case you ever need to. For lesser emergencies, research urgent care facilities near you. I keep all of my doctors, pharmacies, and insurance providers’ phone numbers, addresses, and fax numbers stored in my mobile phone contact list. It has proven invaluable when an MS attack hits suddenly.
- Medication: Keep a list of all prescription and over the counter medications you take along with dosage information. If you’re having an exacerbation or are under stress you may need this documented rather than relying on your memory. I use my iPhone for this, but a notepad or laminated note would work just as well.
- Faculty: Keep a list of your doctors, their functions with regard to your medical care, and their contact information. In an emergency, you don’t want anyone to have to guess about your medical history.
- Account Numbers: Some account numbers (prescription numbers, insurance member IDs, or even credit card numbers) may be needed from time to time over the phone. Be wary of identity theft but also be practical. Is there a safe way for you to carry information with you that you believe might be important to have in an emergency?
- Medical ID Bracelet: Consider a medical ID bracelet to inform others in an emergency of your condition and possibly of your medications. If you’re prone to have trouble speaking when you have an exacerbation, this could be priceless.
- Pain Medication: My personal need is related to the MS Hug – I always keep diazepam on hand in case it strikes. You don’t want to be a great distance from medication you may desperately need.
- Walking Aids: If you only occasionally need assistance walking, I heavily recommend a folding adjustable walking cane. I keep this one in the trunk of our car at all times and bring one with me when I travel.
- Climate Control: I recently wrote about dealing with the heat. One very rudimentary way to prepare for this is to carry a small fan with you just in case.
Right now, while you are surfing the web and reading this blog, think about what your specific needs might be in an emergency. If a snow storm were coming, you would prepare wouldn’t you? Well summer is here and if you have Multiple Sclerosis, take a moment to prepare so that you are ready when life gets even less convenient.
Most importantly – DON’T PANIC.
When have you found yourself unprepared in a tight spot? When have you been grateful that you were well-prepared?