Be Prepared

by Karen Topakian

Is an excellent motto. One that many of us Girl Scouts repeated at the beginning of our meetings. As we carefully placed our right hand over our heart.

But sometimes you just can’t be prepared. No matter how hard you try. 

For example, a good friend of Peg’s and mine learned on Sunday that she had to have emergency surgery on Wed for a mass on her brain. Try preparing for that bit of news.

Her wife made a few calls. Sent out a few emails. Revved up the big wheel of friends and loved ones who could help. Though it was hard to know what kind of help was needed and when. The patient didn’t seem to need much at the moment. She was receiving great care and pain meds in the hospital while awaiting surgery*. Until then and a prognosis of her aftercare became apparent. All one could do was call, email, send food and just be available. Fortunately, she was awake, alert and lucid. But what if she weren’t?

While talking with them both in the hospital just prior to the operation, I mentioned that we have very little preparation in life for such events. Emotional and logistical. At least, when you have a child, you’ve had several months to rally the troops, notify the press and assign tasks. But in this case you have very little time or none.

The patient wisely suggested that we should have emergency hospital bags packed along with key phone numbers and emails. Those of us who live in earthquake country already should have one packed for that likely event. But this is different.

Without such preparation, the next of kin or family member must ask…Who should be called when? Who does the patient want in the hospital for support? Who can I rely on in the middle of the night for ANYTHING? Is there a list of people who can just do the heavy lifting without needing much oversight or direction?

None of this includes who should be notified about your professional/work life, especially if you own your own business or work alone. But at least it’s a start.

The only emergency plan I’ve made is for Peg to call my sister Gail with the bad news. And then my sister gets to tell my mother in person. (Sorry Gail but you do live only a few miles away from Alice.) Other than that Peg will have to sort it out. Fortunately, she’s more than capable on all fronts. But it’s unfair to burden her with handling it all herself. And what if she’s also part of the accident/surgery/emergency?

I’m not expecting to experience what my friends are going through. Neither were they. And accidents do happen!

I’m looking for good ideas on how to plan. Operators standing by.

*The surgery went very well, and they think they got the vast majority of the tumor out.

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