When you live with chronic health issues, the definition of a good day can be much simpler than what most people think. I have also learned that we cross paths with people for a reason. There are individuals in the medical field that are exceptional at their jobs and deserve to be recognized. I was fortunate to have a medical angel for a nurse during my recent sepsis episode in Pennsylvania who made every day I needed to get an infusion a good day.
After 10 days in York Hospital battling sepsis, I returned to my parents’ home in York, Penn. and was drained from all that my body and mind had endured. When I was released from the hospital, the fight and treatments weren’t over. My blood cultures revealed that there was bacteria in my bloodstream but my doctors were unable to determine the cause. The best treatment was a two-week course of antibiotics administered intravenously. My infectious disease doctor at York Hospital opted out of having me get a PICC line for fear of infection and wanted me to try and keep a peripheral IV for the remainder of my treatment post-hospital stay. This included one week of going to an infusion center and getting antibiotics daily.
I am a habitual “hard stick,” whether for labs or an IV. My veins are tiny and have a tendancy to roll and my IVs quickly clot when there is not fluid flowing constantly through the vein. The thought of leaving the hospital with an IV and hoping it would work every day at the infusion center and then being saline-locked until the treatment the next day was quite concerning. I left the hospital with the mindset of “one day at a time.”
My mom and I arrived at the infusion center the day after I was released from the hospital and that was when I met my infusion nurse, Michael Torres, aka “Big Mike.” He had kind blue eyes and a sweet demeanor. I had a good feeling about him right away. I have been a patient since the age of five, so I have learned to analyze those caring for me right away and assess their aura. He flushed my IV that was still in from my hospital stay and it instantly infiltrated. I thought, ‘Here we go.’ There was no option but to remove the IV and put another one in. Michael put the tourniquet below my left elbow, looked at my arm while turning it to the left and right, did not feel for a vein and then opened the IV kit to place the IV. Next thing I knew, the IV was in my vein, there was good blood return and I tasted saline in my mouth, which I love because that is the taste of success. I was shocked, speechless and grateful. How did Michael put an IV in my arm on the first stick and without feeling for a vein? Can I say “medical angel?” Yes!
As the next couple of days unfolded, I went into the infusion center where the antibiotics were given and I was sent on my merry way. It went way easier than I imagined. After several days, though, my IV failed and I needed another one. Once again, Michael got me on the first stick without feeling for the vein. I was amazingly impressed. I needed to know his secret. He said that he looks for the shadows of the veins versus feeling for them. Incredible! I have never met anyone like Big Mike. My second IV lasted the remainder of the week. I was in awe as I walked out of the infusion center every day giving my mom or dad a thumbs up, high fives and a hug as we happily exited the building. I was overjoyed and relieved every time that my appointment went smoothly, having forgone countless sticks, pain and stress. Leaving Apple Hill Medical Center after accomplishing my main goal of the day, getting the vital antibiotics that I needed, equaled a good day in my world.
While it may have seemed to Michael that he was just doing his job, he was helping me heal by making a challenging time in my life better than expected. He showed me that exceptional individuals in the medical field can make difficult tasks easier, and he made my treatments an enjoyable experience with his happy spirit, eliminating a lot of potential stress. A fun connection that Michael and I discovered at my last appointment was that he knows my dad. It is a small world and I believe I crossed paths with this special infusion nurse for a reason.
My white blood cell count wound up spiking again while I was getting my IV antibiotic infusions, meaning there was an infection brewing. Due to this, my doctor had me take an extra week of oral antibiotics when I was finished with my infusions. I’m now back home in California getting weekly bloodwork and more diagnostic tests. I’m also seeing an infectious disease doctor, hoping to catch the infection before it gets in my bloodstream again, and still searching for the cause of my sepsis.
Our health can simplify some of the seemingly complex things in life and show us what truly matters. Although I was exhausted and not feeling well after I got out of the hospital, my mom, dad and I made the best of our days together. Accomplishing the important task of getting the necessary meds I needed to recover counted as a good day in our minds. Anything else beyond that was a bonus. Life is precious. I encourage you to find the good in every day, no matter how big or small it may be.
Do you have someone in the medical field who had a positive impact on your health journey? If so, I encourage you to share your story and acknowledge and commend them for their efforts.
What do you classify as a good day?