My medical awakening came as I lay in the ICU, tethered to a multiplicity of machines and monitors working in concert to keep me alive. Tears streaming down my face as I played back the surgeon’s words, “I don’t know if you will make it through the surgery, it doesn’t look good. If I have to make a choice to save your life, you may wake up without your leg.”
How did my ‘routine’ procedure come to this? Prior to 2006, “medical” to me meant mammogram, Pap test, acupuncture. So, when I learned I needed to have two small fibroids removed, I went into action as a fully engaged patient. To prepare, I researched my procedure, looked up the ratings of my doctor and hospital, exercised and ate a super healthy diet. All of that and my excellent health were still not enough to protect me from a severely broken system. It left me wondering, “If this can happen to me, what chance does the average mom or elderly patient have?”
Even though it would be months before I’d learn that over 100,000 patients a year die from preventable infections – a sense of urgency came over me. I promised God that if I survived (leg or not) I would dedicate my life to saving others and making a difference in healthcare. Surviving sepsis and necrotizing fasciitis was just the beginning of my journey. Each subsequent stage an education in the many pieces comprising the medical puzzle – home care, wound care, mental health care, compliance, oversight, legislative, policy and legal. For more perspective I returned to school to study Healthcare Management. I am humbled to represent the “Patient Voice,” sharing my seven years of “clinical” experience and aftercare; teaching, learning, listening, collaborating and partnering for change to protect us all.