Making Recurring ER Trips Easier
When you’re dealing with any sort of chronic illness, the ER can become a place you visit more than you’d like. It can be because of new symptoms, vomiting, or simply not being able to manage your pain. I can’t count how many times I’ve been to the ER over the past few years, but this year, I set one of my biggest records by far. After going almost every week during a low point in my illness, I realized I needed to do things differently. I was losing so much hope in doctors believing me, I would be afraid to even ask for what I needed. I was falling into a depression, sitting in hospital beds. It had to be better than this. If I didn’t have control over how many times I needed to be there, I had to control whatever else I could.
The waiting game: Things that can help
One of the worst parts for me is the waiting process. First of all, you're sitting in a waiting room for hours and then you usually wait even longer to see the doctor. You also have the long wait for medications, scans, and getting the results back. Then one day, I was at Walgreens picking up medications and I thought of all the things that would be nice to have in the hospital. So I bought a portable phone charger, magazines, a small notebook, an extra set of headphones, and a neck pillow. I packed a bag of all these items and hung it in a closet so it was ready to go. I also added extra pain medications, heat packs, and lidocaine patches. The extra stuff was for the ride to the ER, which can be super painful and stressful. It helps to make sure you’re prepared for that too. You do have to restock the bag after you use it and charge the portable charger at home, but I promise, it’s all worth it.
Getting proper pain management
I’ve had good and bad experiences with pain management at the ER. There are still doctors who do not take women's pain seriously. I find it’s important to have someone there to advocate for you, if possible. I go to the hospital by myself a lot, but it's always been so helpful to have someone there. It’s hard to advocate for ourselves, especially in that type of pain. We can also become afraid of speaking up to the doctors because of those bad experiences. It has created immense anxiety for me, to the point where I’ve left in just as much pain as I’ve come in with. This is not acceptable. Emergency rooms shouldn't be a place that creates the fear of being judged or not being believed.
When I don’t have family that can be there, I’m definitely more stressed. But over time, I have been trying to learn how to speak up for myself and use past experiences to help explain what I need. The OB/GYN staff is great to talk to, so it's important to request to speak with them when it comes to your care. It's good to tell them what has worked for your pain in the past and what has not. I explain my medical history in extreme detail and make them spend the time with me that I need. It’s hard and it can be discouraging, but we have to do what we can and hope for the best.
Going to the ER is awful, point blank. I know most of us do whatever we can to avoid it because of the things I’ve mentioned. I can’t stress enough how important it is to go when you know you need to. That’s why I hope we can make things easier on ourselves, especially emotionally. The frustration and fear alone can trigger even more physical pain in these situations. Focus on making yourself comfortable, finding someone to be your advocate, and demanding the care you deserve. I hope one day we live in a world where women with endometriosis always feel safe receiving treatment. Until then, let’s try and make the most out of these frequent visits.
Do you know someone that has made a difference with endometriosis advocacy?