Thousands of people die every year because they delayed going to the emergency room. Playing Russian Roulette with your can destroy your family and the people who loved you, far before your time.
In working in the health field, I get an up-front seat to seeing people taking chances with their life that show lack of insight at best and fatal decision-making at the worst.
One of the most common reasons people delay going to the emergency room is that they hope their symptoms will get better, even though they have no idea what their symptoms might mean. You and I need to put aside our egos when we don’t feel “right” and get checked out. People don’t want to appear foolish or over-reactive, and they actually fear going in to an emergency room just to go back home again.
Heart attacks, strokes, internal bleeding, reaction to medication or foods, ruptured appendix or infections can take us right out of this world quickly. While we are hopefully thinking the chest pain is the chili we ate for dinner, and it well could be, never take a chance.
If you feel you cannot afford an emergency room (and this can cause many to delay, who have no insurance), do not worry about being unable to pay. Millions of people use the emergency room every year who cannot pay, and never pay. But they get treatment. Going to a walk-in clinic is not an option, as they do not have the equipment there should a person go into full-blown cardiac arrest.
There are times when a walk-in clinic will do just fine. Broken fingers, cuts, a fever, earaches, toothaches, and injuries of a non-life threatening nature are all candidates for walk-in clinics. It helps to know where one is near you, if your doctor cannot see you, or it is on a weekend or holiday. In most areas, they are scattered around and easy to get to.
If the doctor at a walk-in clinic thinks you need to go to the hospital, you can go by ambulance from there. The clinic can also do some stabilization of your condition with oxygen or other measures to help. But for something that is going to take more sophisticated diagnosis, the hospital is where people need to go.
One of the most overlooked symptoms is numbness in the arms or lack of coordination. Chest pains and severe headaches are also ignored. Many symptoms simply cannot be diagnosed by the patient or family at home. The layman does not have the extensive knowledge of what symptoms can mean. By waiting, we are playing with fire.
It seems men are most likely to delay a trip to the emergency room, more so than women. Ego gets in the way. No one wants to be seen as “sick,” and many do not want to be fussed over. “It’s all a lot of to-do over nothing.” That is what this author’s mother said the night she delayed going by ambulance to the hospital. By the time she did call 911 she was DOA. Unfortunately, this is all to common.
Elderly people, while the most at risk for sudden onset of symptoms are not the only ones who need to pay attention. More heart attacks, strokes, aneurisms, and clots are seen in younger people. People in their forties and fifties are being seen more and more with severe physical problems that need immediate attention.
“I’ve never been sick a day in my life!” This is often heard from those who assume that just because they have never been sick, they will never get sick. After all, they reason, sickness is a weakness. Which, of course, it is not.
The nice thing about going to the emergency room is that if there is nothing much wrong, if it was indigestion after all, you can relax and know you are OK. If it is not, you can thank your lucky stars that whatever is wrong was caught in time. Strokes are very time senstive, as blood thinners can be injected in the first three hours and it can make the difference between never being able to walk again or being fully restored to normal health. Heart attacks can also be prevented with blood thinners and other medications to prevent full cardiac arrest.
Let’s not be heroes with trying to second-guess our problems when we are not trained in medicine, and if someone says you need to go to the emergency room, please listen to them and call 911.