Aneurism Disabled Wife And Caregiver Husband Suffer Due To Hospital Mistake
by Raymond Bernat, Jr.
(Woodridge Illinois, USA)
This story is not all about myself. It is a story about two people married and still in love.
I was almost taken away from my wife when my appendix ruptured. My system went septic and three surgeries and eight months later, I was okay.
The worse part of it all was that my landscaping business suffered. I lost a season's worth of income.
I am 54 years old and I am slowing down a little.
My wife Diane of 23 years is the true survivor of this story. She is 57 and has given us two children and they have given us three grandchildren.
Diane has had a trying life, but has always kept it together. She has been disabled due to psychological issues for several years.
The kicker is she has always made the best of everything.
Diane was almost taken from me on February 12, 2010. After arriving home from the grocery store and talking about what to leave out for dinner, we continued with our tasks at hand.
A few minutes later I heard a thump, thought nothing of it other than one of our dogs lying down. I then heard a muffled tone, and left the kitchen to investigate the noise.
Walking into the bedroom, I found Diane on her back, eyes rolled back in her head. Calling her name she finally came to. She was able to get up only to collapse a few steps away.
She complained of a headache, the light was bothering her eyes and she was overheating. I called 911 although she wanted me to call her girlfriend.
As the Paramedics took her away, she took my hand and said, "Ray, I don't want to die today!"
Diane was taken to Edwards Hospital in Naperville, Illinois.
After several hours of surgery, as I sat with the hospital's chaplain most of the evening (bless her heart), the doctor found us.
Diane had suffered a significant life threatening bleed, an aneurysm, He said she was alive but gave Diane only a 5% chance of survival.
Wow! That was devastating news, although it was also a blessing.
Diane has been a fighter all her life. I once told her she could do anything she put her mind to. This would be her biggest challenge.
While in a drug-induced comma, Diane was able to reach out and touch my heart to say, "I AM STILL HERE!"
Her recovery was nothing short of a miracle, as we were told over and over. One doctor said, "God visits this room!"
With all the prayers and energy from family and friends, she was taken off all the life support systems, and was on her own.
Though the doctors thought there might be some paralysis, loss of mobility, loss of speech, memory, or something she got better every day.
She understood most everything: who she was, where she was, what happened to her. Of all things, her sense of humor was still intact which I had to explain.
After only being in Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital in Wheaton Illinois for a few weeks they said she could go home! Well they released her for outpatient services.
Her only issue was that with a little loss of focus and concentration, she failed her certification to drive. That didn't stop her. She just started walking everywhere, up to six miles a day.
This past July 2011, Diane was admitted to the hospital due to a kidney issue. Years of certain medication over the years have done damage to her kidneys.
Lithium was the worst one and she was taken off it too late. The damage was done. She is close to renal failure, but as always still holding her own.
Every now and then her kidneys act up and they have to flush her system. Unfortunately this means taking her off and then introducing back her medications.
While she was hospitalized they changed one, decreased one, added one, all for the better for her kidney issues.
During her hospital stay they performed a CT SCAN and an MRI. This was done to follow up on her previous brain surgery.
They looked at the coils and the programmable shunt that was placed to aid in her cranial fluid drainage. However they did not follow protocol after the MRI.
The shunt being magnetic and the MRI machine a giant magnet, they needed to check and reset the shunt following the MRI.
They did not!
Diane was released from Linden Oaks Hospital to my care, and the help of an in-home healthcare service.
Diane was receiving visits from three therapists and a nurse weekly. She kept insisting that something was still wrong.
I took Diane to the emergency room and a CT showed that the ventricles were different than her last CT and that she should have the shunt checked. We did so the next morning.
The doctor's expression as he checked the setting of the shunt said it all! The doctor said that there was evidence of hydrocephalus and in the worst case she could have had a stroke.
I spent the next several weeks trying to find out why this happened and who was responsible for this oversight or breach of protocol.
The hospital's risk manager, a Mrs. Dawn Clark, eventually contacted me. We spent some time talking and Mrs. Clark had asked me, with all things considered, what would be a good settlement dollar amount.
She was quite direct and said to evaluate our situation and apply all the issues that this situation had created.
That being said, I told her that I have had to be at home to take care of my wife, since she could not be left alone.
With all the follow up tests, doctor visits and the fact that she ended up needing a cane to get around, I was needed 24/7 and not able to work.
We were at this point already having trouble paying our bills. Credit cards began to get used a lot, eventually closed and sent to collections.
I could not make lease payments and business equipment was taken back.
Our financial issues began with my illness. We took out an equity loan, and used that to survive for the time I lost not working.
Since Diane's complicated issues, which are still unresolved with Edwards Hospital, things have just continued downhill.
There is no way out from under all this, we are thankful to both be alive and still together.
Mrs. Clark had said that all we had talked about would be considered in the settlement and we would be okay.
She also thanked me for bringing everything that had happen to her attention, and that their staff had been retrained and procedures changed (at our expense).
The Hospital based their settlement amount without having all facts correct, and all issues applied. I felt that I was deceived the entire time.
I personally lost most of my income for three seasons, turning away jobs and loss of jobs I could not commit to due to Diane's unstable condition.
I would only take very small jobs that did not require me to be far away or for very long. This allowed me to get home quickly if I needed to be. I worked part time for UPS over Christmas.
I am currently unemployed and Diane receives SSI. We tried for SSDI and were denied.
My father and sister help us out when they can.
The NAMMI Foundation paid one of our mortgage payments.
We have received help from our county with a one-time food card. We go to a local food pantry for most of our food.
We also get help on our energy bill from the county.
I have been looking for work, mostly something that I would be able to do from home, so that I would be able to still be home to care for Diane.
As I write this story today January 9, 2012 we have exhausted all our funds to last one more month unless we can be blessed with one more miracle.
Third time is the charm.
We have been paying our first and second mortgage and utilities only. We are mailing a letter of apology for all other past due accounts and collection agencies.
We had a meeting New Year's Eve with a lawyer. If he thinks we have a case, then maybe we will be okay. However that could be months or years from now.
I would like to say that it would give me a warm fuzzy feeling inside to pay everyone back and maybe be able to help others in need.
We are open to any and all assistance we could receive.
We are surviving with the care and giving of the blessed individuals that have offered what they can, and we are grateful.
Thanks For Your Interest
Raymond and Diane Bernat