Sending a loved one to the ER for COVID-19 is a terrifying possibility that has unfortunately become a common reality for too many people. Kate Fenno (@kate.escaped) recently chose to document her own experience sending her mom to the ER on TikTok.
In the video, Kate explains how she's preparing her COVID-positive mother for the ER as they wait for an ambulance to arrive. Notably, she's packing a bag that contains imperative personal and medical information about her mother that she will send along with her. That information includes a list of her mother's medications, her ID and insurance information, a copy of her temperature and oxygen levels, a list of four emergency contacts (and their phone numbers), and her mother's written consent to speak to them, as well as a phone charger.
While she isn't sending her mother to the emergency room with shoes because they'll most likely be lost, Kate notes that she has changed her mother into a fresh set of clothes. Most importantly, she has placed several stickers on both the bag and her mother's shirt indicating her mother's severe allergy to latex.
Kate's video has been viewed over 1.1 million times and liked by 138.5K people. The comment section is filled with appreciation for the video, stories of firsthand COVID-19 experiences, and healthcare workers thanking Kate for sharing the information.
I spoke with Kate and her mother, Diane, who has since returned from the hospital and is slowly recovering. Kate described the creation of the video as a panic response in the time between calling 911 and the ambulance's arrival. "In that minute to rest, I had to fill the time," she said. "I just went around writing everything down." Diane added, "We knew that Kate could not go with me, and I was not in any mind frame to give any kind of history. It was a panic, but it was a necessity. We are sending these people in alone, and often delirious, ill, and not coherent. It is terrifying."
Kate, who has a master's in public health, also accredits the decision to make her mother's COVID bag to her experience as a caregiver in a professional setting. She said, "I had so much emergency response training. I would sit in on care plan meetings with people coming in who were not always able to see their family." When deciding what to send with her mother, she remembered those meetings and thought, When somebody would come in, what is something that I wish they had brought with them?
The EMTs who took Diane to the ER thanked Kate for the bag she packed, and Kate was happy to see nurses and healthcare workers in her video's comments share similar sentiments. She said, "It's so validating and comforting to know that we were as helpful as possible to take some of that burden off of nurses and EMTs."
While Kate described the entire experience as a lot, she also found it very validating. "It’s also brought me and my mom closer. We’ve always been best friends, but when you’re caring for someone on their deathbed, it takes it to a whole new level," she stated. Now, Kate plans to continue chronicling her mother's journey to recovery on her TikTok channel. "With the response, we said, 'Let’s keep documenting the experience, posting videos.' I know that everybody says this, but even if you only help one person, it’s worth it," she concluded.
Have you had to send a COVID-19 positive loved one to the ER? What advice would you give others going through this? Let me know in the comments.