WAYNE COUNTY WANDERINGS — A scary night in the ICU

The room was fuzzy and dark. Things were still spinning a little bit.

It took me a minute to figure out where I was. It took me another minute to locate the clock on the wall and focus well enough that I could tell the time.

3:16 a.m. and all was calm in room 212 of Wayne Memorial Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit. The only sounds I could make out were the soft hissing of oxygen and the regular, comforting pulse of the heart monitor.

I’d finally managed to sleep for a couple hours and it seemed to have helped a bit. The tightness in my chest was gone. The splitting headache had eased up. The tingling in the left side of my face and all down my arm were just a memory. Most notably, my blood pressure, which has spiked to ridiculous numbers around 11 p.m. had dropped significantly.

Maybe now I could get on with the process of figuring out what the heck was wrong with me … get back to normal, back to my newsroom cronies, covering events and writing stories for all of you out there in Wayne County.

Little Things

It’s funny how little things ... simple things ... can be of such comfort in moments of fear and suffering.

For example, someone just looking you in the eye, calling you by your first name, patting the back of your hand and saying: “Hey, everything’s going to be okay.”

Such a small gesture can make a world of difference.

Suddenly you understand you’re not alone in this terrible time. There’s someone there by your side, a caring and compassionate fellow human devoted to making things better.

These are the exactly the kinds of people you hope for when walk (or stagger, or crawl) through the doors of your local hospital.

And, that's exactly what I encountered during my recent stay at Wayne Memorial Hospital. And, I'm forever grateful.

Scary Stuff

Thankfully there was no one sitting in Stacy’s intake cubicle when I stumbled in.

Stacy and I first met quite many moons ago through my coverage of the Wayne County Women’s Softball League. We became friends over the years and hers was a friendly face I so desperately needed to see at that moment.

“Kevin what’s wrong?” she said. “You look awful.”

That was no coincidence because I felt awful. And, it only took Stacy a minute to recognize my distress and usher me into the Emergency Room.

There, she turned me over to Physician’s Assistant Debbie who couldn’t have been kinder.

Debbie listened patiently as I tried to tell her what was going on. She hooked me up to the monitors, fed me baby aspirin and got my IV going. In short, Debbie made a scary situation a little more bearable just by being both compassionate and professional.

My ER nurse Rich, whom I’ve gotten to know pretty well over the years after numerous with Mom and Dad, is another perfect example.

On this particular day, he came rolling into the exam room cheery and upbeat as always. It was comforting just to hear that voice.

And, when he arrived at my bedside I couldn’t help but smile: Instead of the typical hospital “scrubs,” Rich was proudly sporting a Queen+Adam Lambert concert t-shirt.

“Guess where I was last night?” he said with a grin.

“They’re my all-time favorite band,” I replied.

And so as Rich bustled around the room, we compared concert notes. My son and I had seen them two summers ago in Philly, while Rich was just hours removed from this year’s show at that same venue.

Remarkably, for just a little while, I forgot my pain and was carried along by the simple distraction of conversation.

Those few minutes of normalcy were a tiny island of peace amid the swirling, chaotic maelstrom of the next few days.

Familiar Faces

I've heard it people say that Wayne Memorial isn't really a “local” hospital anymore. Well, I'm here to tell you that's complete nonsense. Everywhere I went during my stay, I encountered familiar faces.

From the ER to the ICU, X-Ray to MRI, Cat-Scan to Stress Lab, I ran into people I've known all my life.

They called me by name, asked how I was doing, inquired about my family … everything you could hope for from the folks at your local hospital … small things that helped take the edge off an otherwise frightening scenario.

Home base during my stay was the ICU and once again the treatment I received was amazing.

While all the doctors and nurses were kind and compassionate, Magdalena really stood out.

A passionately dedicated RN who's also working toward her doctorate, Magdalena embodies all that's good about her profession. She went out of her way to make sure I was okay, talking to me and taking the time to listen patiently when I asked a hundred questions.

Magdalena also took the time to befriend my Mom and Dad, who couldn't have been more impressed with her knowledge, skill and dedication.

Gratitude

As you can probably imagine, this wasn't the column I'd originally planned for this week.

But, sometimes Fate has other ideas for us and we just have to adjust as best we can. I actually had a story about the Fair half-done, but after going through this health scare I knew I had to write something about my experience with our local hospital.

If you've been reading me for any amount of time, you probably know what a fan I am of legendary Dr. Harry Propst … the man who cared for three generations of Edwards men.

I've heard its said that Wayne Memorial isn't the same hospital since Harry died and that's certainly true. But, it's a new era. Time marches on and change inevitably happens.

I'm happy to report that my experience with the “new” Wayne Memorial was 100 percent positive.

Dr. Dewar is also a big fan of Harry's and it shows in his willingness to spend time with his patients. When I thanked him for actually listening to me this past week, he simply said:

“It's what I do. I learned from the best.”

So, I just wanted to take a minute to thank all those amazing folks who work at Wayne Memorial.

From Stacy to Debbie, Rich to Magdalena and everyone else who made my stay a little less scary: Thank you so much! You're a credit to the community and the people you serve.

We're very lucky to have such a top-flight hospital here in our little town and I hope none of us ever take that for granted.