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‘My son carried me to his truck and drove like lightening to Headwaters’: One patient recalls a 17-day stay in our Intensive Care Unit

Karen, a 61-year-old Orangeville resident, began drifting in and out of consciousness.
Her son, a firefighter and paramedic, rushed to her aid and quickly assessed her.

“My son carried me to his truck and drove like lightening to Headwaters,” shared Karen.

After being triaged, Karen was taken to a patient room in the Emergency Department where numerous Diagnostic Imaging tests and bloodwork were ordered. The team was working as fast as they could to find out what was causing her to lose consciousness.  

The following day they had determined that Karen was Diabetic and likely had been so for the past eight months. Karen had never experienced a single symptom so did not know she needed to take care of herself in that way.

Karen’s blood pressure and fever were sky high; she had developed pneumonia on both lungs and Emphysema in one lung. Emphysema in the lung is a collection of liquid between the lung and inner surface of the chest wall. It reduces lung expansion and causes breathlessness. This infection in Karen’s lung was making it extremely difficult for her to breathe. Karen had no idea how sick she was.

Karen was placed on oxygen immediately and moved from our Emergency Department to our Intensive Care Unit (ICU) where she could be monitored closely.  

“The nurses and doctors in the ICU were amazing. They treated me with such respect and dignity. Dr. Mauro visited me every morning, she was outstanding and made sure I understood everything that was happening and was going to happen to me,” shared Karen.

Karen never spent a moment alone during her stay with us, sharing “My family was my rock, and I would have been lost without them at my bedside each day. I also felt like the care team treated me as if I was their family. I am so blessed to have had them taking of care of me.”

As Karen’s breathing was greatly impacted by her condition, she required the frequent care of a respiratory therapist. Karen was terrified when her breathing machine would alarm and kept thinking that her health was not improving. When the nurses would call for the help of a respiratory therapist, Karen never had to wait. The quick response of Melanie, and the entire Respiratory Therapy team provided great comfort.

After several days at our hospital, community paramedics from the Dufferin County Paramedic Service, brought Karen to Southlake Regional Health Care Centre for a specialized procedure to drain the liquid on her lungs. Upon her return to Headwaters Melanie was waiting for her, eager to see how she was doing and help plan for getting her back to good health.

“Karen and her family tried to accept each day for what it was, but the health care team could see the uneasiness in their faces when they were experiencing hope and fear at the same time.  We worked together as a health care team to assure Karen about her health and progress along the way,” shared Melanie.  

After 17 days in the ICU, Karen was indeed brought back to good health with normal oxygen levels. Members of our Diabetes Education team worked with Karen to develop a plan to manage her Diabetes once at home.  

“I am forever grateful to all the wonderful staff who took care of me and my family. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” shared Karen.

We could not agree more Karen, and as we celebrate Respiratory Care Week (October 23 – 29), we could not think of a more fitting time to share your story - one with a positive ending because of the tremendous care provided by our respiratory therapists and entire team.
Photo caption: Karen, who spent 17-day stay in our Intensive Care Unit.