Emergency Contact Person: NONE
June 26, 2020 11:41 PM   Subscribe

I realize that lately I've been disappointed by my family and I have no idea what to do when I have to write in basic questions like emergency contact or arranging caretaker after anesthesia. Is there someone I can call/hire for me just for emergencies?

I don't have friends for the last decade or so IRL and I've asked family members but they either 1) Don't Speak English 2) They're Busy.

I live in NYC so I'm OK w/public transportation but there are moments where I just feel it's too complicated to explain that I'm estranged from my immediate abusive family apart from getting calls every 3-5 months. The latest problem is that I'm planning to have an operation under anesthesia and my brother just has been ignoring my calls for a few months despite my mother telling me he will pick me up on that day. I have serious doubts that he cares enough to drive here and yet I'm not sure how I can get home?

Although I'm under medical care with a therapist and psychiatrist there are moments where I'm not sure who should I add as emergency contacts or even help me in odd situations. My aunt is probably the only person who cares about me but during the day she is a caretaker for my grandmother and can't drive. Is there someone I can call/hire for me just for emergencies? What do single people do if they don't have anyone to help?
posted by chrono_rabbit to Human Relations (15 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
If you are wanting someone to help you that has some type of medical background, you could contact several local home health or home care agencies and ask the Nursing Manager if she can refer an aide that is interested in private work.

Or go on your local neighborhood group on facebook or nextdoor and explain you are looking to hire a health care aide to pick you up after surgery.

If you don't care about the person having a medical background and you just need a person to pick you up, maybe try Taskrabbit or asking neighbors/friends if someone is available to give you a ride. Or next time you take Uber or Lyft ask the driver if they would be willing to give you a ride from the hospital on a certain date and time for cash.

I had a tenant who did this with a Lyft driver, she was an older single woman who was undergoing a series of major dental surgeries. The two of them got to know each other and he became her designated driver for all her procedures and followup appointments, as she had no car and no nearby family. It worked well for them, he appreciated being able to work outside of the ride share platforms from time to time. She said he was always responsive because he could rely on her business.

You should get to know your neighbors if you can, or maybe there's a work friend you feel you can rely on? One time a coworker helped me get home from the ER after I had a debilitating knee injury, at the time I was single and living alone in NYC, I didn't know anyone with a car and didn't have a car myself. Obviously don't list people as an emergency contact in general without discussing that with them first, but also don't underestimate people's desire to help others in a pinch if you are facing a one time challenge of some sort.
posted by zdravo at 11:55 PM on June 26 [3 favorites]

I am not familiar with the specifics of therapy or psychiatry and whether it's an appropriate role in an emergency, and I'm not familiar with your therapist or psychiatrist and how you talk with each other, but if you are comfortable with asking them for help, they may be able to help you. One of them may be able to be that person repeatedly calling your brother's phone, your friends' phones, your job's phone, in the event of an emergency.
posted by panhopticon at 11:59 PM on June 26

As your emergency contact, if she agrees, your aunt could be your point person to organise things for you, in the future. I'm thinking the person you give work the details for incase you get struck by lightning at work or whatever.

For this specific event, definitely look at organising someone, you don't have to have your "emergency contact" be the person who picks you up.
posted by freethefeet at 12:41 AM on June 27 [4 favorites]

There is a big difference between emergency contact and driver home from medical procedure. They can overlap, but they are not the same. I have had an Uber type driver take me home from the emergency room. I was pretty groggy and worried about it. I had little choice. In NYC, I am pretty sure there is a city agency that would drive you home from a medical procedure. I would ask 311. They can give you guidance on whom to contact. As for emergency contact, put down your Aunt. She will take charge in case questions need to be answered and people need to be notified and maybe even decisions have to be made.
posted by AugustWest at 1:28 AM on June 27 [2 favorites]

In my area of SoCal, there are plenty of Medical Transport Services that are just for this sort of non-emergency non-driver need a ride to/from the appointment. Much like catching a ride to the airport. You can probably Google that up and find a few. I'm in the same boat (all family/friends are on the other side of the country). It's enough of a thing that you can Google it "Medical Transport Service" and probably find something that isn't an RN or EMT but is a thing that exists just for your use case.
posted by zengargoyle at 3:02 AM on June 27 [1 favorite]

That was for the anesthesia part. The general more intensive care part is Home Heath Care, and maybe an Attorney.

Disclaimer, I worked for a Home Health Care agency for a few months in administrative capacity. That's where you go if you need somebody skilled to watch over you for a while.
posted by zengargoyle at 3:17 AM on June 27

Just to clarify for other posters, (in my experience as single person who had anaesthia) the drive home from the hospital is the easy part - a taxi is fine if you don't have friends who can pick you up. But I was told I shouldn't be alone for a period of time after the anaesthetic in case of ill effects. I can't remember if it was 12 hours, 24 hours, something like that. At the time I happened to have a flatmate living with me, who arrived home from work within a few hours of me getting back home, so I just gambled on a couple of hours alone. But I do remember thinking it was a pretty big hole in the system, that assumed everyone could arrange to have someone at home with them after surgery.

OP, I'd think you could call a health care agency (the kind of people who provide home care to the elderly) and ask them if you could hire someone to do at home care for 24 hours and come stay at your home, if that's what you need.

For other things, I don't want to be at all presumptuous about your situation but this kind of thing is a good prompt to remember that no wo/man is an island and that starting the process of trying to make some IRL friends will only become more valuable as you move through life and find yourself in these situations more often. If there are issues like social anxiety at play, making that one of the things that you determine to work on with your therapist sounds worthwhile. You're not going to go to a Meet Up and instantly come away with an emergency contact, but you might start a process this year that means that this problem is solved a few years down the line, which is better than not. You might be already doing this, but I didn't want to let it pass - having had no IRL friends for a decade sounds immensely tough.

All the best.
posted by penguin pie at 3:50 AM on June 27 [5 favorites]

I live alone and have no friends or family near me. Once I had what was supposed to be day surgery but I explained my circumstances and the doctor said no probs and arranged to keep me overnight. Another surgery 2 nights was normal but they kept me 3 for the same reason. When I went to the emergency room with an allergic reaction they were happy to keep me til morning if I wanted since it was after midnight by the time it was sorted and they knew I was alone. So in my experience they'll work with you if they can.

However, same day sedation procedures are a pain. They don't let you leave alone even though I know from experience I'm fine (my friend used to pick me up, luckily she lived near the clinic we'd head to the station and part ways) and there's no option to stay over. I'd probably try a friend of a friend option, someone really near so it would only be a quick favour.
posted by kitten magic at 4:20 AM on June 27 [3 favorites]

Thanks, I wasn't sure what the specific terms were to search for but I'll look it up now.
posted by chrono_rabbit at 4:39 AM on June 27 [1 favorite]

This is my pet peeve, the heavy reliance of the medical system and insurance companies in the US on unpaid labor.

My hospital requires the person driving me home to be in the waiting room for the entire procedure, so make sure something like that isn’t in play.

Also, I agree that it’s very important to work with your therapist on ways to develop relationships with people. In addition to being good for your mental health now, it will be invaluable if you ever develop a long-term serious illness.
posted by FencingGal at 4:46 AM on June 27 [9 favorites]

I just had an operation - gall bladder removal - yesterday afternoon. They didn’t mention the “you need someone with you for 24 hours “ bit until I got to the hospital. I just looked at them and said, That won’t be possible (thanks, Metafilter!) and they didn’t push it or care. I got home about 13 hours ago and it’s been fine. I have my phone right next to me and honestly I don’t know what another person would have done anyway other than watch me sleep, wake up, walk around the house in circles (they told me to do that) drink ginger ale and go back to sleep. I kept a cane by my bed and used it at first but after a while I didn’t feel I needed it; the initial dizziness from the anesthesia wore off after about four hours or so.

This changes tremendously if you are elderly or medically frail. I am in my mid-late 50s and in pretty good shape. When my 78 year old mother had full anesthesia though, I did stay with her and she fell anyway and it was a disaster, she got badly hurt and ended up in a skilled nursing facility which is where she should have been in the first place after surgery at her age. If you are in that category, have a history of falls or brittle bones, then I would look into the possibility of a one - two day stay in a nursing home / rehab center. Your doctors office could probably recommend a place and they will pick you up.

I did have a friend drive me / pick me up but I am not in the city. My friend started as a coworker, I bet one of yours would be happy to pick you up. The hospital is really just covering their ass by making sure you leave with somebody, they don’t actually care. So you could also just lie. But they did ask for my friends name and wheel me out to her car. Your coworker could pick you up in a taxi, make sure you get home and that’s that. Ask a coworker you chat / are on good terms with; I imagine they would be happy to help.
posted by mygothlaundry at 6:27 AM on June 27 [3 favorites]

Regarding making someone up who will "meet you at the exit", if you have been anesthetized it will probably be against strict policy to release you without another person being there. I've had to present myself several times to nursing staff to pick up my mother after she had procedures like a colonoscopy, or even just chemo administration because they administered benadryl, and I had to talk to them beforehand by phone and assure them I would be there to get her. They wanted my name and phone number before she would even be taken to the procedure area. Some facilities will not begin the procedure unless the transport person is already in the waiting room, though if you give them a cell number you can go to the coffee shop or cafeteria while the procedure is underway. Facilities differ in their policies.

Anesthesia can be tricky as it wears off. You could stumble off a curb into traffic, especially if you have pain meds on board. They are trying to prevent injury.

I get that it is a pain and seems like how you get home is none of their business but I have seen a few incidents of patients fainting at a bus stop and hitting their head after they just plain walked out of the waiting room after failing to find someone to escort them home.

As a last resort I think you could hire someone like an aide from a home health agency to take you home, - or perhaps a friendly neighbor, but the transportation part might end up being an Uber or paid driver. You will definitely not be able to drive yourself - it would be incredibly dangerous. Best of luck to you.
posted by citygirl at 7:43 AM on June 27 [1 favorite]

My insurance lists rides to/from appointments as a service they'll offer if you need it. Does your insurance offer anything like that?
posted by aniola at 8:39 AM on June 27 [1 favorite]

I have hired a home health care worker in these situations in the past. There is a cost, I think it was around $360 the last time. Insurance might or might not cover it.

Minnesota health care orgs are very persnickety about these situations. I have been required to have the person present with me when I show up, fill out their own set of paperwork, stay with me during the procedure, and I've been monitored as I go out to the attendant's car to be driven home. There was also a stipulation that the person be present to look after me for 24 hours after being released from the facility. (That part was not strictly monitored, but was part of the paperwork I had to sign.)

Some facilities will not begin the procedure unless the transport person is already in the waiting room

Yep, my experience exactly.
posted by gimonca at 12:08 PM on June 27 [2 favorites]

Yeah ditto on the anesthesia but I guess it depends a bit on what sort. I went to the Dental School for a cleaning under IV sedation class guinea pig free dentistry and barely remember it (had bff that time). Definitely check what level of sedation and whether you'll just be a bit loopy and shouldn't drive or your a walking zombie and won't remember a thing once you're home and take a long nap.
posted by zengargoyle at 7:44 PM on June 27

« Older 54 Pound Bag of Sumac...What Do??   |   Where to practice driving stick? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments