At Midnight, Your Hand Held


At Midnight, Your Hand Held

crochet-blanket-818720_640(Editor’s Note: This is the seventh blog post in a series called Imagine during which I explore what could be when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent tracks family caregiver stress and its source.)


It's midnight and you've just arrived at the emergency room. Your caree, you can only assume, has already arrived via ambulance. The security guard at the ER front desk greets you, finds out your name and your caree's name. And, then the security says, "I would like to make sure you have support and help tonight. Would you mind if I ask a few questions?" With your consent, he asks: Are you here alone? How often do you help your caree? How are you related to your caree? He then directs you to take a seat and says that someone will be with you as soon as possible.

You sit, petrified. It's your first trip with your caree to the emergency room. Even worse, it's the middle of the night. Will you know what to do? Will you know the questions to ask, the decisions to make, the words to say?

As you sit, you hear your name called. A woman with a smile motions you to come with her. As you walk down the hall, she introduces herself, "I'm Susan, the Certified Caregiving Consultant who's on duty tonight. Please have a seat in this room while I get an update for you on your caree."

You take a seat in a cozy room that features a recently-brewed pot of coffee, a basket of fruit and granola bars, and a mini-fridge with bottles of water and juice. The room also has a computer--"Please use me to update your family and research medical information" reads a sign posted above the computer--and chargers for tablets and smart phones. Blankets sit ready on the back of the couch.

When Susan returns, she explains where you can find your caree, shares the name of the physician on duty who's caring for your caree and then lets you know how she can help. "Here's my card," she says, "When you need to take a break to go to the bathroom or get a cup of coffee, just call me. I'll sit with your caree while you're gone."

As she shares her card with you, she lightly touches your hand. "Call me for anything. I'm here tonight to support you." Susan then escorts you to your caree, pointing out the location of the bathroom on your way and introducing you to the nurse caring for your caree.

Once she settles you into the ER room, she leaves. But you continue to feel her presence and support the rest of the night, especially because she stops in on a regular basis to make sure you're okay.

Before your caree gets transferred to a regular room, Susan stops in again. "I will follow up with you within the next 24 hours. We'll spend a few moments discussing your caree's current medical condition and I'll share some resources and suggestions that can help. I'll also ask some questions about your stress level so we can make sure you have the support you need."

And then you and your caree head to your caree's hospital room where it seems you both will receive care.

Sound like a dream?

Right now it is.

Let's make this dream a reality.

You can help: