Warren Dillaway: An unexpected and enlightening trip to the ER

It has been just over a week since an attempt to do something good ... took an odd turn.

As more restrictions were added to public gatherings it became clear, through an announcement from the American Red Cross, that blood shortages could become likely as blood drives were cancelled at schools and other venues across the country.

So on Thursday, March 19 I walked into Ashtabula Towne Square to give blood, around 11:30 a.m., and immediately following my donation proceeded to have a quick apple juice and a few crackers before heading back to work.

That quick apple juice probably should have been at least three and I also should have had a few more crackers.

About five hours later I was working here at the Star Beacon when I apparently rolled my chair back from the desk and ... passed out.

At least that is what my co-workers told me when I moved back up into my chair after sliding to the floor.

They had already called 911 and a squad was on the way as I told them I was fine. Upon arrival the squad from Community Care asked me questions, did an EKG and when I passed out again for a few seconds, decided to transport me on a stretcher to the Ashtabula County Medical Center emergency room.

The man and woman who gently took me out the front door of the Star Beacon were kind, humorous and chatted with me on my first official ride to a hospital in an ambulance.

Anxious thoughts entered my mind as I realized I had never been a patient in an emergency room, but had spent time there with my elderly mother.

The calm staff, several of whom knew me from newspaper work, were getting used to new equipment with the coronavirus in the forefront of everyone’s thoughts.

They were extremely sympathetic and tried to keep me in touch with each test during a five-hour period of review of my condition. We talked about their children, sports and other events happening in the community.

An ER doctor said they found a slightly enlarged left ventricle and suggested a consultation with the cardiology department.

At the time it was unclear when that might happen, but an appointment was set for March 23 and the next step within the medical community amidst a pandemic was realized.

I reported to an appointment with cardiology nurse practitioner Ben Luoma who took another EKG and explained the ventricle was due to my many years of running. He suggested a change in blood pressure medication, a reduction in sugar and said training for a marathon in October would be a positive choice.

Amidst the challenges potentially facing the medical staff at area hospitals, it was a wonderful experience to navigate the medical system with a group of committed professionals who keep their patients first.

May we keep them in our prayers during this difficult time.

And it is important to hydrate and eat well before and after giving blood.

Warren Dillaway is a Star Beacon photographer and reporter. Write him at warren@starbeacon.com.


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