How to Prepare For Your Next Emergency Room Visit

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Sometimes, “Hold my beer!” can lead to “Shit, I need to go to the emergency room.” And while you and your DD might rush to the car because, y’know, there’s blood or some other sign of something that makes you want to call your mom, if the wound isn’t 911 worthy, you need to know what necessities to bring.

Thanks to a not-yet-developed frontal lobe, a desperate need to elevate your school’s ranking on the party schools list and an immune system weakened by all-nighters, you will find yourself in the emergency room at least once for yourself or a friend in college.

Case in point: in the past three years of our college careers, my two roommates and I have made three emergency room visits for everyday things like a sports injury. Each time, any uninjured roommates trooped along for moral support. At this point, we pride ourselves on being experts at navigating visits to the Shands emergency room (and everyone on the ER staff probably cringes when they see us walk in).

Check out these tips I’ve learned from various emergency room visits my roommates and I have made over the year.

1. Change into pajamas.

A visit to the emergency room has the potential of becoming an all-night ordeal, and, let me tell you, sleeping in those white plastic chairs in the waiting room is already going to be a bad time. You might as well wear the comfiest clothes you’ve got while you do it. Think your hungover-Friday-going-to-class outfit. Really, is the ER staff going to judge? Scrubs are basically pajamas anyway.

2. Bring blankets.

This falls under the whole idea of being comfortable in a sucky situation. Like I said–hard plastic chairs. For hours. Bring the fluffiest blanket you’ve got and bundle up in it. You’ll be glad for the warmth and comfort.

3. Packing food is a must.

One minute, I’m holding my roommate’s hand because I’m scared of needles and I’m getting stitches next to my eye, and the next I hear an extremely concerned nurse telling my roommate that she needs to sit down and telling me to let go. What happened? Well, my roommate hadn’t eaten since 9 or 10 a.m., and it was now probably close to 3 a.m. Unsurprisingly, my roommate started passing out. Now we always pack waiting room snacks to bring with us. Make sure you bring something portable; a sandwich works or some grab-and-go sushi rolls. I like to grab containers of cookies for easy snacks. Be warned, though, you may only be able to eat in the waiting room.

4. Bring some form of entertainment.

Would you rather watch the billion insanely long infomercials running at 3 a.m., or would you rather catch up on your favorite shows while you concentrate on not dying? (They weren’t even the fun, overly dramatic infomercials. It was disappointing). If you go to the emergency room, bring your phone charger and some headphones. If you’ve got a saint of a friend sticking it out with you, bring a deck of cards. Anything that will help you while away the hours as you wait for a doctor.

5. Come with a full account of what happened and be ready for questions.

When the ER staff finally gets around to you and asks what happened, be prepared to explain. And I don’t just mean tell them where the injury is and a basic overview of “I hit my head,” oh no. Depending on how spectacular your story is, the staff will ask you what exactly your accident entailed. Like, get hit in the head while playing Quidditch? The nurses will request a more thorough explanation, like, What the hell is Quidditch, and how did it cause this bad of a concussion? 

Wondering when should you go to the emergency room?

Because, sometimes, you might try to insist that you’ve had worse, or that you can stick it out. Here are ten times you should prepare yourself for an ER all-nighter, according to ER docs.

1. Concussions.

2. Stitches.

3. A skateboard or bicycle injury.

4. Injuries from a car accident.

5. Venereal diseases.

6. UTIs.

7. Palpitations.

8. Respiratory infections.

9. Depression and anxiety.

10. Alcohol intoxication or drug abuse.

Megan is a Hufflepuff, Star Wars nerd and Jane Austen fangirl. She’s a junior studying English and public relations at the University of Florida.

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