Some of you may have heard that I have had a recent health issue. While the rumor about me being air-lifted out of our hospital is not true, I have indeed been seriously under the weather. As for the rumor that I was not really sick at all and that I was just playing “Undercover Boss” to find out how things really work inside our department walls – I started that one. Nonetheless, in of the spirit of transparency – and gratitude - I want to provide you with an update straight from the horse’s mouth.
Over the course of the past few weeks I began experiencing a cluster of puzzling symptoms – rib pain, back pain, flank pain, fatigue, and vague upper respiratory symptoms. Eventually, my pain increased to excruciating levels and I became extremely short of breath. It was clear that I was dealing with more than a run-of-the-mill seasonal virus. After a series of exams, our exceptional Cass Health team was able to rule out all the ordinary diagnoses and determine I had an empyema (infection) and a pleural effusion in my lung cavity. While my right lung wasn’t completely collapsed, I was essentially breathing with only my left lung due to loss of lung volume secondary to fluid accumulation in my right lung cavity. It was at about this point, that I realized my “Undercover Boss” story was about to be blown.
Almost immediately after diagnosis, I underwent a thoracentesis (draining of the fluid). In following days, I was admitted to our ICU and scheduled for surgery to clean out my lung cavity. At some point, I was asked if I was comfortable having this procedure and following care rendered at Cass Health. After all, pre-pandemic, a patient in my condition may have been transferred to a tertiary facility. My thoughts were, “Our Cass Health team is an ‘A’ team. I want to stay here.” I knew that they cared about me in a way a metro hospital might not. I would have personalized, compassionate care versus being a number. Additionally, even if a tertiary facility had a staffed bed into which I could have been admitted, my procedure may not have taken place timely. I knew, just like every other patient, my care would be a priority at Cass Health. There was no doubt in my mind that Cass Health was the best choice for quality, outcomes, and patient experience, not to mention that it didn’t disrupt my family as much being able to stay right here in town.
Though I have been a patient in the hospital daily this week, I am happy to say that I am now home and making my way back to wellness. In my time away from the grind, I had time to reflect on the experience, and here are some of the key things I learned: 1) If this could happen to me, it could happen to any of us. 2) I am not as tough as I thought I was. 3) It is one thing to know Cass Health is a very special organization because of our incredible teamwork and compassionate care, but it is a whole other thing to experience this as a patient and from a hospital bed; Cass Health is special. 4) Our plans are not the Lord’s…I think God is telling me to slow down and take the foot off the accelerator a bit and keep things in perspective—I needed that! I would invite us all to consider 2022 as the year for “keeping life in perspective,” after all, we are not in control as much as we think we might be.
The last couple of weeks have been by far the most physically painful times in my life – but the pain has become a distant memory. What rises to the top is the superior experience that you all created for me as a patient. While I have counted over 75 people that impacted my care, I dare not begin to list names as I will surely miss someone (the pain control throughout my stay was top notch); nonetheless, I am overwhelmingly grateful to have received my care from your healing hands. I look forward to seeing you all in person as I continue to improve and get back inside our walls, hopefully beginning Monday.