It's been a rough month for our family. On Saturday, November 5th at 10:45 I received a phone call from the Emergency Room at Edwards Hospital in Naperville. The obviously busy doctor shared hurried details and ended with "get here in an hour". My heart literally skipped a beat or two and I had to get organized. I told the stranger on the other line "Extreme measures. You do what you have to do and I'll sign off when I get there. If you need to go before the hour, you go. Don't wait for us."My sister, Tania Rients, age 44 was visiting a patient at Edwards and had collapsed in the hallway. When she fell she hit her head pretty hard. To everyone's shock, right there in the hallway, Tania coded. No pulse, no breathing, and the nurses who were miraculously close performed CPR. Tania was brought back and rushed to the Emergency Room.While in the Emergency Room she was sitting up and talking to doctors. She was able to share two magic words "blood clots" before she coded a second time. This was enough information to focus treatment. CPR was performed and she was brought back again. I was called, her head wound was quickly patched up, and a plan was drafted. The diagnosis was a massive pulmonary embolism. Not only did she have a huge clot in her chest but a second in her leg, from ankle to hip. The head wound at this point was not the main concern. Family was notified, Tania's 3 kids were corralled, and we all made it to Edwards Hospital. While in transit the doctors decided to start the procedure. A line was inserted to place massive amounts of powerful clot busting medicine into the clot. In the waiting room we all breathed a sigh of relief that she tolerated the procedure and was en route to the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. The cardiologist shared that the first 24 hours are minute by minute, the second few are hour by hour, then we will talk day by day. It was really up to the medicine at this point because the clots could not be surgically removed. Tania's daughter was on her way from Alabama, Mom was on her way from Florida, Tania's two sons were going to be staying in the family waiting room with their Dad so I took the first night watch. That night was rough. Tania was intubated and heavily sedated. She spiked a high fever due to pneumonia from aspirating during CPR. Since she was on massive amounts of clot busting medicine her head wound would not stop bleeding. A quick CT scan had been done and no damage was noted. The ICU nurse and I sat there and stared at Tania for hours, only getting up to silence beeps and alarms. At some point during the night Tania did something odd, the nurse and I looked at each other puzzled. Maybe it was our imagination? Now we stare harder. Damn, there it is again. The nurse and I look at each other again and we both know, that was a seizure. The nurse leaves the room, minutes later a neurologist appears and Tania is whisked away for another CT scan. Bad news, there is a brain bleed where she made impact. Double bad news, all clot busting medicine has to stop now. Ok, we can do this, bad news comes in 3's right? So we are done now, right? Suck it up and move on to Plan B. You have a Plan B, right? Plan B was no medicine, shift focus to the brain, install a filter to catch any clots from traveling north, and pray. Nobody liked Plan B. Hours turned into days, days turned into milestones. Tania was taken off of the ventilator, neurological testing was frequent, but she passed! Two fingers, hooray! She looked left and right, yippee! A few days later she walked, sat in a chair, wahoo! Solid food was the highlight of the CICU experience. Every day a little more activity, another CAT scan, and another milestone met. Staples were removed, fevers stopped, coughing subsided, crazy hair was washed, and the blood thinners were slowly reintroduced weeks later. It has been a long month with many ups and downs, but I am happy to report that Tania is home now. Somebody was definitely watching over her. The large life-threatening hurdles have been cleared, now reality has hit. She is not comfortable driving yet, we may need to add some assistance railings to her home, and she will not be able to return to work for a while. Eventually, the hospital bills will start arriving too. All of this, with the knowledge that short and long term disability do not cover 100% of your normal salary. If you are reading this you care for Tania and her 3 kids. Please consider making a donation to help pay down the medical bills and let her heal at home stress free.
Thank you for your generosity, Lidia Granger(Tania's sister)