12 Ways To Prepare for Emergencies–that I Learned on the Way to my M.D.* Degree! (*Mama Doctor)

Tuesday , 12, February 2013 1 Comment

I am a proud M.D.,* (*Mama Doctor), and I worked very hard to earn my pseudo-degree! I have experience with more injuries, diseases, and medical procedures than I could have ever imagined. I did this through many hours of caring for children, family members, friends, and pets, during a plethora of illnesses and traumas.

I earned many “non-academic” credits in the office of our children’s pediatrician, Dr. Sally Goza. She and her compassionate staff answered my questions for over 20 years. Medical books, the Internet, and other Mama Doctors have also contributed to my knowledge.

My daughter, Brittany, has probably contributed the most to my education! She has broken more bones than we can remember (over a dozen!) Some examples: a broken collarbone while being pulled off the top of a dresser by a friend’s brother,  a broken nose from being pushed into a window sill while “running for base” during hide and seek at a friend’s home, and a broken thumb from falling out of a clothes hamper while playing hide and seek in our home. (NOTE: Hide and seek can be dangerous!)

Brittany broke all five metatarsal bones in one foot when she was dropped during a cheerleading stunt. “Let me explain it this way, “ said the orthopedic surgeon while pointing to Brittany’s x-ray, “the front half of your daughter’s foot is no longer attached to the rest of it!” Although hearing those words initially made me a little queasy, my prior “medical training” allowed me to quickly recover! (Photo below, before we saw the doctor.)

It pays to have a good relationship with your pediatrician. You never know when you might need them to vouch for you! X-rays during a visit to urgent care showed that my daughter had a broken arm. When asked how it happened, Brittany told the doctor, “Daddy did it.”

Realizing how that sounded, I quickly interjected, “Tell them what you and Daddy were doing.”

Brittany responded, “Daddy flipped me.”

I tried cuing her again, “Tell the doctor what you and Daddy were doing.”

I was stopped cold by the doctor’s stern command, “Ma’am, please be quiet. We’re not talking to you, we’re talking to your daughter.”  The doctor then gravely told the nurse to summon the doctor in charge and the hospital social worker.

Just then, through the open door, I spotted Dr. Goza walking by and called out to her. Dr. Goza came into the exam room. The ER doctor informed Dr. Goza that the situation was serious, since Brittany had just informed him that her Daddy had broken her arm.

Dr. Goza got down on Brittany’s level and gently asked, “Brittany, what were you doing when you hurt your arm?” Brittany explained to her pediatrician, “Dr. Sally” that she and her brother were jumping on the bed, while their Daddy was lying on the bed trying to knock their legs out from under him. Brittany had landed wrong on her arm and hurt it.

Dr. Goza addressed the assembled group of serious-faced medical and administrative personnel. “There’s no problem here. Brittany was just playing with her Daddy. I know this family. I see them in my office all the time!” Thanks to Dr. Goza, the situation was immediately diffused and we were not reported to the Department of Family & Children’s Services for child abuse!

Another time, Brittany came downstairs after she had been in bed for a while. She was retching like she was about to throw up. I shepherded her toward the bathroom saying, “Try not to throw up on the carpet.” She gulped loudly, and said, “I swallowed my hair clip!” I had mistakenly thought she was going to vomit when she was, in fact, choking!

Of course, this happened ten minutes after the Urgent Care Center closed, before we had a local hospital. I called our pediatrician, who happened to be “on call.” She said we needed to have her x-rayed, to make sure the hairclip did not get stuck and perforate her intestines. That entailed a trip to the Egleston Campus of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and monitoring Brittany’s poop for several days! I once had to pull my car over online slots to do the Heimlich maneuver on Brittany when I saw in my rearview mirror that Brittany was in trouble while choking on a piece of candy! (NOTE: Teach your children to put their hands on their throats as the sign they are choking, in case they ever need to let anyone know!)

Brittany has had mononucleosis and an unnamed adenovirus that severely lowered her blood pressure, almost shut down her digestive system, and kept her on homebound school for 4 months! Most recently, Brittany tore a ligament in her foot, which required two emergency room visits, and months of physical therapy. Being an M.D.* is not for the faint of heart!

Here are a 12 ideas to give you a jump-start on your own M.D.* degree!


1. Consider how you would handle possible emergency situations, so you will be ready.  When something does happen, stay calm! Take a deep breath. Remember: Lots of blood doesn’t necessarily equal “life threatening!” (A small cut on the head can bleed like a bullet wound on television!)

2. Assess the seriousness of the situation.  If things seems dangerous or potentially life threatening, call 911. Do not try to transport a seriously ill or injured child by yourself.

3. Be prepared for all kinds of emergencies! Keep an assortment of first aid supplies, bandages, over the counter medications, and a first aid book at home AND in the car.  Tell your children and others where they are located.

4. Keep a bag or box with water, juice boxes, snacks and activities in the car to have for emergencies. This will also keep kids busy in restaurants, doctors offices, and if the car breaks down.

5. Make pre-arrangements for calling a neighbor or family member who can babysit  in case of emergencies.

6. Consider becoming certified in First Aid and C.P.R. (Watch for upcoming Peach State Mom’s Blog Classes!)

7. Keep Pedialyte, Gator-Aid, ginger ale, canned soups, and other comfort foods on hand for minor illnesses and stomach upsets. (The B.R.A.T. diet for easing into eating after an upset stomach consists of Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast.)

8. Practice how you would handle different kinds of emergencies with your family. Teach your young children how to dial 911. Have a family plan for tornado preparedness, escaping fires, etc. (Store water and food for emergencies in your home.)

9. It seem like most emergencies and serious illnesses occur either: A. immediately after your doctor’s office closes for the day; B. in the middle of the night; C. on days when your doctor is out of the office; or D. during holiday vacations! Put your doctor’s, urgent care facility’s, and hospital’s addresses and phone numbers in your cell phone before you need them! Urgent care facilities are quicker, and cheaper, than ER”s for stitches and more routine after hours care.

10. Keep the medications your child uses regularly with you at all times. Keep a back up dose in your car. Be sure to keep a list of your children’s allergies and any necessary medical records in your cell phone. Put medications in your carry on bag, not in checked luggage, if you travel.

11. Make sure that grandparents, babysitters, and other caregivers have a notarized statement which authorizes emergency medical treatment for your children. Be sure a copy of your child”s insurance card is attached. I kept copies of a notarized permission to treat and insurance card in my children”s diaper bags and backpacks, too.

12. Be flexible. Always have “Plans B, C, and D” for the times when “Plan A” goes awry! Try to find some humor in your situation, if possible. Then LAUGH together about it! Laughter is great medicine, and it helps you gain perspective. You may need to alternate between laughing and crying, depending on the gravity of the situation and the degree of pain!

Time spent dealing with emergencies and other difficulties are great family memory makers! We have lots of good family stories about our medical adventures, and associated activities. (For example, our family always played “Rock, Paper, Scissors,” read stories, and played handheld games while waiting for doctors. Late night visits to the hospital frequently included special snacks, and stops for doughnuts at the 24 Hour Krispy Kreme.)

Are YOU an M.D.* (*Mama Doctor), too? How did you earn your “degree?” What is your favorite “Mama Doctor” story and/or advice? Please share in the blog comments below!


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One Comment
  • […] This required a trip to the emergency room to be sure the clip did not open and perforate any body parts. Once the x-rays showed the clip had passed through the stomach, Mommy was obliged to have a daily treasure hunt until we were certain it had passed through my daughter’s other end.  This event led to my teaching my children the universal ”choking” sign!” […]

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