A Weight Lifted
I_m writing in response to A.J. Heightman_s From the Editor ("Dead Weight," JanuaryJEMS). For years, I_ve been fighting weight issues. I have Type 2 diabetes mellitus, hypertension and high cholesterol. I was on five different medications, along with insulin and ASA. I would lose weight and then gain it back again, and then some.
In August 2006, I had a routine visit with my endocrinologist, who recommended an exercise cardiac stress test. My cardiologist called me that evening in a panic and wanted to know how I was feeling. He explained that the images looked good, and no blockages were found, but that my ejection fraction was 37%. I told him I didn_t have chest pain or dyspnea. But he knew I was a paramedic, lugging all that equipment up steps and treating people, just like A.J. talked about in his column.
In September, I had my first and hopefully only cardiac catheterization. It turned out normal, but the left ventricle was definitely weak. My family physician said if I didn_t do something immediately, I might have only 10 years left. I was devastated. He went on to tell me that if I got gastric bypass surgery, my problems would go away over time.
On March 5, 2007, I had laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery. I was 380 pounds with a 52'' waist when I hit the table. As of today, I_ve lost 155 pounds and have a 40'' waist. I feel great. All my medical problems are GONE. That_s rightƒno diabetes, no hypertension, no cardiac issues. I just recently had an ECG done, and it showed my ejection fraction now up to 60%. I thank A.J.for sharing his story and inspiring others to lose the weight.
Brian Flavelle, EMT-P
I don_t have a problem with the article "Recognizing a Seriously Ill Patient" (JEMS.com/ross) per se, but we don_t want staff thinking "Zebra" when they hear hoofbeats! I_ve seen what I refer to as "House Syndrome" (what used to be Zebra Syndrome)ƒnewbies watching episodes of House, then seeing the same symptoms in patients. Factor in that patients tell paramedics one story, the triage nurse a (slightly) different story, the ED nurse yet another (slightly) different story, then the doctor (who they think is God-like and can automatically tell if they_re lying, so they don_t bother with it by this stage) yet another version, and it can end up playing out like a child_s game of "Telephone."
"Treat each patient as a puzzle to solve" is something I try to live by each day. Pain is pain that has a physical cause until I prove otherwise. Sometimes, though, people just don_t want to tellus the full story, no matter how hard we pull on their teeth.ecnalubma JEMS