Diary of a Crisis, Part 3: Major Error and Tears
Note: CP Families editor Lee Vanderloop recently experienced a health care crisis with her daughter, Danielle. Part III of her story appears here today.
By Lee Vanderloop
After settling in and giving history to the admitting physician at the new hospital, meds were ordered and additional IV antibiotics hung. Several hours had passed when Danielle’s nurse entered the room with several medications. If I’m in the room at the time, it’s usually my habit to inquire as to what meds they’re administering, or what IV they’re hanging. The nurse told me: Pulmicort, her anticonvulsant, Tegretol and the blood thinner Heperin.
I stopped her right there and asked her who had lost their mind and ordered Heperin? Danielle’s bone marrow was making inadequate amounts of platelets and greatly reducing her body’s ability to clot blood. She definitely wasn’t in need of a blood thinner!
I demanded the name of the ordering physician. A physician who had made rounds earlier entered the room. He told me I was right and apologized for the error and assured me that the Heperin would be discontinued immediately. I asked him how such an error could’ve been made, and was informed that with non-ambulatory patients such as my daughter, anti-clotting therapy was standard protocol with admission. I was speechless at the thought of any order being written without first consulting the patient’s chart, med list and allergies.
“We’ll Make Her as Comfortable as Possible”
The day went on with repeated blood draws, medication administrations, and consults with various physicians. A chest x-ray was ordered but was of an inadequate quality to interpret, so a CT scan was ordered. We would not learn of the results until the following day, on Danielle’s birthday.
Danielle would be spending her 27th birthday in the hospital, but not without cake, balloons and family! We had several special visitors that day. The first was a doctor from general medicine, who agreed that it appeared some form of bacteria or infection was attacking Danielle’s bone marrow. But, he said, without a painful bone marrow biopsy there was no way to confirm or rule out the diagnosis of Pancytopenia. He ended with “We’ll make her as comfortable as possible.”
Then, a very special person in our lives appeared in the doorway, Lucy. Lucy had been one of Danielle’s many nurses and had experience in oncology and hospice. Lucy listened in as the physician was communicating how things would progress as Danielle’s immune system failed her. We discussed antibiotic therapy at home with visiting nurses and the eventual need for a central line.
I rejected the thought of a central line until absolutely necessary, if at all. When the doctor left the room, Lucy all but ran to me, and we cried in each other’s arms. I was at my breaking point in watching my child suffer. When hearing our wail of tears from outside the doorway, Lucy’s husband Matt (also our pastor) entered the room. An intimidating 6’2” with the heft of a football player, Matt came across the room in three steps swept me into his arms and held me tight as I cried my heart and soul out.
I asked Matt through words broken by tears, since he was a pastor and should have a direct connection to God, why God hadn’t seen it in his mercy to take my baby home and spare her further misery. I begged him to please ask God to take her home.
After several moments I collected myself and we left the room, headed to the cafeteria for a much needed cup of hot tea.
Sadly Danielle has passed away, but her mother Lee Vanderloop is helping other families daily as editor for the CP Family Network website.