Imagine walking into the rest room at work feeling so dizzy you pass out on the floor.
That’s what happened to Darrell Clough, age 51, from Greenfield, MA. Luckily, a co-worker found him and called an ambulance.
When he arrived at Baystate Franklin Medical Center, Darrell was alert and said he felt fine. He figured he could just go home. Doctors examined him and found his heart rate was low.
Emergency room physician Dr. Sunny Shukla noticed Darrell’s sensitivity to lights and headache and ordered an immediate CT (computerized tomography) scan. The scan showed Darrell had subarachnoid hemorrhaging, or bleeding in his brain. With this condition, minutes can make the difference in preventing brain damage and even death. Darrell was rushed to Baystate Medical Center’s Level 1 Trauma Center in Springfield for emergency surgery.
Almost half the people with subarachnoid hemorrhaging may die within three weeks from complications of the initial bleeding or from rebleeding if the source of the bleeding, typically an aneurysm, is not treated promptly.
TECHNOLOGY ENABLES DOCTORS TO MOVE QUICKLY
Baystate Health’s electronic records system allows providers throughout Baystate to share a patient’s records quickly.
Doctors at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield had already reviewed Darrell’s CT scan by the time he arrived from Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield. They were ready to perform surgery as soon as he came through the doors. “The ability to share information instantaneously between these two facilities very well saved my life,” Darrell said.
COILS AND RECOVERY IN THE ICU
Neurointerventional surgeon Dr. E. Jesus Duffis immediately performed surgery to stop the bleeding in Darrell’s brain. In the procedure, called coiling, the aneurysm (an outpouching of the wall of an artery) is filled with soft metal coils. This secures the aneurysm and prevents future bleeding.
“Treatment through coiling and other techniques has revolutionized the care of patients with ruptured aneurysms, as in Darrell’s case,” Dr. Duffis said. “Complications are less likely than with traditional open surgical techniques, which makes this the preferred treatment for most patients with a ruptured aneurysm.”
After surgery, Darrell recovered in the ICU Neuro Critical Care unit for nearly a month. This allowed him to be in a controlled and monitored area in case there was any complication with either the aneurysm or procedure.
Neurocritical care doctors Dr. Melissa Mercado and Dr. Benjamin Barnes followed Darrell’s recovery closely. They explained to Darrell what had happened, what they were looking for in terms of recovery and release as well as courses of action for the future to lead a healthier life.
“Any questions were answered in terms I could understand,” Darrell said. “Overall, I was made to feel that I was going to be okay and at that time that was the best news possible.”
PERSONALIZED CARE MAKES A DIFFERENCE
“I never knew the level of care could be so personalized and attentive,” Darrell said. “Everyone treated me with professional courtesy beyond what I thought possible, even the young man from food services with his trainee. On my birthday, they brought me a cupcake and sang me Happy Birthday. That still brings tears to my eyes.”
He remembers how professional and courteous the entire staff was during his month-long stay in the Neuro Critical ICU.
“The men who conducted my daily Transdoppler Radar test were like friends. The people that came to draw blood. Housekeeping. Just everyone. I owe them my life,” Darrell said, “And I pray for their safety daily as they work during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Home now, Darrell says he’s 100 percent recovered and without side effects. He continually thinks back to how positive his caregivers were and uses that in his own work environment.
“I have seen firsthand the difference it can make,” he said. “My eternal gratitude to everyone who cared for me.”