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One Saturday night in June 2020, Diane Carter, 52, helped her mother get into the passenger seat of her Lincoln sedan. After checking her GPS for the fastest route to the local emergency room, she walked away from home.
Diane’s mother felt ill and wanted Diane to get her checked.
In the middle of the 15-minute journey, the lives of the two women and their families will be forever changed.
As Diane was driving through an intersection on a green light, a car crashing into the cross street next to her at 100 mph.
“You know how they say your life can change in the blink of an eye? Well, it can.” Diane, a wife and mother of two children from Allendale, Michigan, said, “They don’t make it up.
“He definitely made me grateful for every single day.”
Diane remembers a little of that exhausting night or weeks that followed. She relies on her husband John to fill in the details from the early days of her trauma.
John narrated his wife’s story, often keeping a list of her injuries, from head to toe.
Significant concussion. Serious injury to the cervical spine. Damage to the four arteries leading to the brain. Fracture of the left collarbone. Fractured left shoulder. Twelve broken ribs. A punctured lung. A torn diaphragm. Rupture of the spleen. Intermittent liver. Injuries to the thoracic and lumbar spine. Fracture of the right forearm. Broken basin. In addition to broken teeth and many other minor injuries.
Level 1 shock
Dian’s severity of injuries and impact strength prompted an EMS team to the scene of the accident to map her case Level 1 shock.
Before you reach Spectral Health Trauma Center at Butterworth HospitalA team of about 30 people gathered in Shock Bay, ready to receive it, according to Alistair Chapman, MD, Who specializes in intensive care surgery.
“We’re there and get dressed before a patient arrives so we can provide time-sensitive care,” said Dr. Chapman. “Doing Level 1 Trauma Care is all about providing time-sensitive care for time-sensitive injuries.”
distance Advanced Trauma Life Support Protocol, the trauma team – including emergency physicians and technicians, nursing staff, radiologists, trauma surgeons, a blood bank representative and others – conducted a preliminary assessment of Diane’s injuries and sent her to perform a CT scan of the head through the pelvis.
Dr. Chapman said the examination confirmed that she had suffered “significant wound injuries”.
In such a situation, the trauma team focuses on saving the patient’s life.
“On that night, the first priority was treating a hiatal hernia,” said Dr. Chapman.
Rupture of the diaphragm, which is a muscle that separates the abdomen from the chest, allowing the contents of her abdomen to leak into the chest cavity.
Dr. Chapman said: During emergency surgery, “the doctors removed the contents of the abdomen from the chest, put them back into the abdomen and repaired the diaphragm.” They also removed her damaged spleen.
After the surgery, Diane went to the intensive care unit, where she remained in Breathing machine Due to an injury to her chest wall. The ICU team watched her closely to see how she would progress.
Meanwhile, John had tracked down his wife at Butterworth Hospital.
His research began after his wife’s father called to say there had been a crash and Diane’s mother was taken to another hospital.
She also underwent emergency surgery that night.
But for Diane’s mother, internal injuries proved too critical to be overcome. She died 10 days after the accident, as her daughter fights for her life in a hospital room across town.
Months later, the family is still struggling to understand their loss.
“My mom and I were very close, and she was gone,” Diane said. “Still – not there. But it will come.”
Six days, four surgeries
When John arrived at his wife in the early hours of the morning after the accident, her future was hanging in the balance.
“They took me down to see her, and she was on a ventilator – more tubes and different machines than I have ever seen in anyone,” he said.
They said: We will not do anything else for her for the next 24 hours. … we’re forming a team together to figure out how to put it back together if you get down to business in the next 24 hours. “
I succeeded the next day.
at that time, James Stopart, MD, A spine specialist, evaluated Diane’s neck injuries and concluded that he can treat it with a cervical collar instead of spine surgery.
This evaluation paved the way for major orthopedic surgery to repair a fracture in the right side of the Diane pelvis and another in the right ulna.
After a successful second surgery, the multidisciplinary trauma team set the following priority: Helping Diane breathe on her own. This will require a third surgery, with Dr. Chapman and his colleague Charles Gibson, MD.
“The team didn’t think they would be able to get it out of a breathing machine without repairing the chest wall,” Dr. Chapman explained. “She had a lot of rib fractures on the left side, and my goal was to recover those that fundamentally affect breathing mechanisms.”
Dr.. Chapman and Gibson placed five ribs on Diane’s left side, essentially reconstructing her chest.
By the time John arrived at the hospital the next day – more than three days after the accident – his wife was off a ventilator and self-laying.
It will take another operation before her prolonged rehabilitation begins: Two days after stabilizing the rib, Diane had her fourth surgery, an orthopedic operation, to repair her left collarbone.
This concludes what Dr. Chapman calls the second phase of the trauma patient’s path, the phase in which doctors decide how to fix the remaining injuries once the initial life-saving phase has passed.
He said, “This is a very calculated move on our part because you can only push the patient’s body hard, and you have to be very careful about how things are timing.” “Interference in one case is likely to have definitive effects on others.”
Diane’s medical team has now shifted their focus to her recovery – starting with pain management.
“There was a lot of pain spreading all over,” John said.
They would ask, ‘Is this painful? Does it hurt?’ Yes, everything hurts.
“She fell asleep for 20 or 30 minutes at a time and then wakes up again. Getting her to sleep and letting her body heal was a huge thing.”
These agonizing post-surgery days – this is where Diane’s memory goes back in time.
Because even though her upper body had sustained more than thirty fractures, the occupational therapy staff still had to wake her to prevent fluid from settling in her lungs.
“Some of my early memories – the scariest memories – were coming from OT and wanting me to sit in bed. Then I sit in bed that turned into bedside sitting.
“The pain will just make me want to lose my lunch. The room was just spinning – yeah, it’s hard even to express it in words.”
John couldn’t bear to watch his wife in pain during those moments.
“Yes, during a lot of those times I have had to leave. The protection instinct – to protect the person you love – will be so strong that it’s like, ‘You guys are doing what you have to do. I’m going to the hall. I could hear her screaming in the hallway … a cry full of blood. “
The inpatient treatment program prepares patients for the third phase of the trauma journey, the rehabilitation phase. Fortunately, Dr. Chapman said, Diane qualified for acute rehab, Rehabilitation Boot Camp.
“That’s always the best scenario – when we can take patients to the highest level of rehabilitation – because when we move them out of the hospital, we know they will be pushed,” he said.
Three weeks after her arrival, Diane left Butterworth Hospital by ambulance Mary Free Rehabilitation Hospital.
As it happened, Diane’s exit fell off the same day as her mother’s funeral. John left the gathering at the church in time to escort his wife to her rehab hospital room.
The following month, Diane engaged in an intense physical therapy daily. Although she still felt intense pain and nausea, she was bringing motivation and determination to every session.
“It always seems like she has an attitude of“ I’m going over this. ”There’s really no other option for her -“ I’m going back to normal life, and I’m going to use my arms and legs as I would have done before this injury. ” Joe Westerhof, PennsylvaniaWho specializes in Bone trauma.
Westerhof has seen Diane on her rehab visits to Multidisciplinary trauma clinicIt is a collaborative office that includes specialists in orthopedic injuries, acute care, burns, physical medicine, rehabilitation and neuropsychology.
Both Westerhof and Dr. Chapman were marveled at her rapid recovery.
“The first time I saw her in the office, she was in a wheelchair but she was wandering around. Then the second time I saw her in the office, she walked in. That was cool,” Dr. Chapman said. “I just hastened her recovery in a really exceptional way.”
Dr. Chapman credits Diane’s rapid progress to two factors: her positive outlook and John’s presence by her side.
“Her feeling of optimism that there is a good future there, and there is a good outcome for her, and having her husband’s support to get through difficult moments … really helped her through this recovery in a way that was very positive and very fast,” he said.
To gauge how quickly she recovered, John recalled a conversation he had with a doctor in the early days of hospitalization.
“I asked at one point, ‘Just give me a timeline, just something I can understand. What are we talking about? Years?’ And the doctor told me Christmas would be a good time, a realistic time, to shoot her to go home – Thanksgiving if all goes well, John said.
Instead, Diane came home on July 21, four months earlier than anyone had expected.
Home of her family and friends, a profession she loves and hopes to teach again in the service of the children of her church.
Although she still has months of outpatient physical therapy – and performed two unexpected surgeries in December to deal with issues of scar tissue and gallbladder – she is as dreaded by her prospects as everyone else.
“When I think back to how shocking it was, how I can (now) get out of the chair so smoothly, I can go for a walk, and I can crouch and pick things up – it’s really cool.” She said.
What’s more cool? She is alive to tell her story.
“If I look at how many ways I shouldn’t be here – then if I am here, I shouldn’t be talking; and then, if I can talk, I shouldn’t walk – it’s really a miracle,” she said.
“There are no words in the English language that express how grateful I am that God saved my life and put all these wonderful people on my way to bring me back together.”
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