Surviving an Accident With Heart Failure (Part 1)
Editor's note: This is part 1 of a series. Be sure to read part 2!
Months ago, as I headed downstairs to my kitchen, I slipped on the last two steps and fell hard. As I collected myself at the bottom, I was in unbearable pain, and I looked down to find my ankle completely deformed.
I had to call 911 as I was alone, my husband out of town on a work trip. I explained what happened they sent an ambulance. I got the question we all love "are you on any medications?" “Why yes, I am,” I responded as I explained my condition and meds and more meds.
Finally, they loaded me onto a gurney and into the ambulance, and I asked one medic to grab my purse and keys and feed my cat – I wasn't sure how long it would be before I came home.
Going to a different medical facility
In the ambulance, they asked where I wanted to go. I said the hospital downtown, but that was outside their jurisdiction. It never occurred to me that I wouldn't go to my regular hospital, and I'd be sent to one that didn't have any of my medical records.
I rethought my request to the medic – I should have asked him to grab my medical folder before he fed the cat. Priorities! At least the cat wouldn't kill me when I got home – she'd be well fed.
I couldn't have asked for a better ER crew to care for me. I calmly explained my situation and all of my ailments and medications. It took a while to go through it all – the heart attack, the ICD, the medicines, and finally, all the allergies.
The X-rays of my swollen and deformed ankle confirmed what we thought – I did break one side in a few places and severely dislocated the other side, which would require surgery.
They did do an EKG out of caution and added a chest X-ray. Unfortunately, my EKG shows some abnormal features stemming from my heart attack, which caused some concern.
However, even at 8 pm, I was able to sign a consent to secure my last EKG from the other hospital. They confirmed there were no new changes and all was good. I was then painfully put into a splint and sent home.
Now months out, I continue to think of ways always to be prepared, should something like this happen again. Researching online, I found several methods for records management.
There are medical id bracelets that will state the main issues. Some bracelets contain a USB dongle that stores your information. I have decided to keep an updated two-page document on my google drive and my email.
Should I find myself in another situation, I can reference this as my phone is usually with me. I also sent this to my patient friend/advocate if I need someone to communicate on my behalf.
Helpful information for my condition
Information that is helpful for my condition includes:
- Conditions – a quick synopsis in my health records that document my heart conditions – Information from MI and resulting echos and stress echos.
- Medications, supplements, and vitamins
- Implants – if you have stents and ICD – include the manufacturer and serial numbers
- Allergies – include medications or materials – for me, I have severe allergies to certain metals
- Contact information for your care team - cardiologist, PCP, and electrophysiologist. If you have your last interrogation report, that can come in handy.
- My ICE team. My husband and patient best friends' contact information. It may be best to list more than one person.
They always say, "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger." I guess that applies to me. I now have a fortified ankle, complete with some titanium and a new way to keep my medical records on me. And to those wondering - yes, the cat was okay. She was well fed and waiting for me when I got home.
Stay tuned for my article on surgery preparation!
My PSA – be mindful of stairs and pay attention!
Besides heart failure, do you have any other chronic medical conditions?
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