How To Survive The Emergency Waiting Room

Because it’s cold season,and because we cancer types are advised against loading up too much on Vitamin C during treatment, this time of year we will be particularly vulnerable to catching colds and getting infections – and therefore potentially at risk of enduring interminable waits in ER.  I have bemoaned the 9-hour wait in ER before , and am foresworn to do everything I can to avoid ever going through it again, so help me god. But in the spirit of hope-for-the-best-prepare-for-the-worst, I offer my personal Emergency Waiting Room Survival Kit:

  • Bottled Water – drink plenty of liquids, very important.
  • Snacks, cough drops, gum, lip balm like going on a plane, except more boring, cramped, under-serviced and without the movies. And with no chance of finding yourself in Paris when it’s over.
  • Tissues – even if you don’t have a runny nose, the waiting can bring you to tears.
  • Tylenol/headache tablets – I am not advising you to let your fever rage, but personally I refuse to take anything to bring my fever down until the nurse has taken my temperature, for fear I might sink even lower on the list of priority patients (like below someone with a broken nail.)
  • Blanket or Wrap – for the chills, or to form a protective barrier between you and that germ-riddled chair you’re sleeping in.
  • Travel Pillow – perhaps you think this excessive but after, say, hour four, it will start to sound pretty darn practical.
  • Mp3 player – to drown out the noise of other people’s suffering. You are not Gandhi, you’re sick and you have cancer: Ignore them.
  • Hand Sanitizer – get your Obsessive Compulsive freak on & use it every time you touch something or something touches you.
  • Hygienic mask I know this seems extreme, but so too are the myriad germs swirling around the waiting room and dancing up your nasal passages.
  • Socks if you’re going to curl up and try to sleep on that furniture you may want to take your shoes off & put extra socks on to protect your feet from the ick factor, or to protect others from the ick factor of your feet. Just saying.
  • Sleeping Mask – when you finally leave the waiting room, you could end up in a bed in a brightly lit hallway with two more hours – wait before the doctor can see you.
  • Servant – or husband, mother, friend, etc. to get you food, liquids, plead your case, massage your head, watch your purse. Geneva Convention suggests we are to free them after hour six if possible.
  • Book/magazine/newspaper – even if you are too feverish to read, your servant might need the distraction.
  • Cab Fare yes you really will get out of there eventually, and you might need to get home on your own.