Aug 19, 2009

If Today Was Your Last Day...

Today was perilously close to being my sister's last day. She dodged a big time bullet.

She had reconstructive knee surgery (completely torn ACL, partially torn MCL, extra long something'r'other that involved drilling into the bone) last Friday. She was 911'd to the hospital today after passing out and convulsing. She just managed before she passed out to click the button on the walkie-talkie and whisper "help, help".

Fortunately, my mom's house (next door) was quiet; she heard the whisper and went next door where she found my sister unconscious and, then, convulsing, in her bedroom.

And, for once I'm not going to save the whole lesson for the end, here's the first part: LISTEN when other people tell you about what they're going through. Even if you don't care that it's what friends do, you never know what you'll learn that may be useful later. For example, I learned from one of my best friends about pulmonary embolisms awhile back.

So we pushed for the ER staff to check for that. The ER doctor rather arrogantly dismissed the idea because my sister didn't recall having a hard time breathing. We pushed some more. (Ok, I pushed my mom via phone, she pushed my sister's husband via phone, my sister's husband and my dad pushed the ER doctor - it was kind of a chain event thing.) The doctor pushed on my sister's leg, it hurt. They did an ultrasound. Yep, a clot. They sent her up to get scanned all over. She does, indeed, have a clot in the upper lobe of each lung.

So here's the second part of the lesson: DEMAND to be heard. Unfortunately, we can't rely wholly on the health care system to know what's wrong with us and, in the end, we are responsible for our own health care. If it doesn't make sense in your gut, ask questions. If it still doesn't make sense, ask more questions. Keep asking, keep pushing.

If we hadn't, if we'd just accepted the codeine allergy theory, my sister would've been sent home from the ER with nothing more than "you just fainted" and a pat on the head which would have, most likely, killed her.

Scared the shit out of us all but she'll live. My sincerest thanks to that friend - I am so sorry you had to go through what you did to learn that but what you learned and shared saved my sister's butt. You know who you are and you're one of my best friends for many, many reasons.

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Anonymous h. said...

Oh, I am so, so glad you all pushed and that your sister will be alright. How very (!) scary!

10:38 PM  
Blogger JerseyTjej said...

I heard some actress on tv the other day saying that she was pushing for people to become better advocates for their own health. What luck that you were anchoring the chain and got them to take her seriously...Next to pilots, doctors have the highest God complex of insult intended.

12:32 PM  
Blogger smileymamaT said...

Wow, I am so glad this came out the way it did. "If it doesn't make sense in your gut, ask questions. If it still doesn't make sense, ask more questions." This is so very true. Sort of living it right now, and I had the neurologist whose first response to my symptoms was "go back to work and just try it" as if I could drive or think straight at all, so yeah, I had to do some pushing and maybe now we'll find out what's wrong. I hope your sister has a speedy recovery, sending hugs down the "chain". :)

8:37 AM  

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