An Advocate Learns A Lesson Traveling With Mom

Being a patient advocate, I should have been smarter about traveling with my 88 year old mother from Boston to Santa Fe, NM.  My mother lives independently, is quite active and cognitively competent.  She has her senior moments but that is more about where she left her keys. (Yes! she is still driving to my constant horror and nagging to stop).  She uses a cane for her balance.

Off to New Mexico we went.  A long plane ride with transfers, wheelchairs and skycaps with exhaustion at the end.  We went out to dinner with some of my friends.  I was beyond exhaustion and could only imagine the toll on her.  I had just closed my eyes and the phone rings.  “I fell. Can you come to my room?”  Instant adrenaline rush and off, I went.

She opened the door and the first thing I saw was blood on the bed and running down her face.  I asked her what happened and if she hit any edges.  She said no, she just fell.  She wanted me just to look at it, so she could go to sleep.  Well, there was gash that was bleeding.  As tired as I was, I knew I had the ER in my immediate future.

We arrived at the ER and I had visions of hours sitting around.  The waiting room was full.  But they saw my mother, and took her right in.  She was scared and  it was my job to do all the talking.  It was then that I realized we had not come prepared for the possibility of an accident.

Here is what I didn’t make sure my mother or I had.                                                                                                   1. We didn’t have a copy of her medications.                                                                                                                           2. We didn’t have a copy of the Healthcare Proxy, Power of Attorney and advanced directives.                                    3. We didn’t have a current health history.                                                                                                                                      4. We didn’t have a current allergy list.

Luckily, my mother did not have an internal head bleed and just needed staples to close the wound.  None of the above came into play except the allergies, which she was able to verbalize.  However, had there been a need for this information, it could have been a problem for her.  I clearly had a moment while sitting in the ER, that I got off lucky.

I think I learned my lesson and dodged a bullet.  But I realized, as an advocate and it is your parent, you can easily forget the basics. You just never know when an accident will occur and having this information readily available can be the difference between life and death.

We were only at the ER for 2.5 hours.  Christa-St Vincent’s Hospital in Santa Fe was very efficient, friendly and helpful.  I was surprised that I was in bed before midnight and my my mother was safe.