Don’t take your good health for granted

Jackie Hayes with staff

Never take good health or good health care for granted. I experienced that firsthand this week when my usually super-good health went downhill fast. I woke up one morning feeling terrific, ready to start the day in my typical zero-to-60 fashion. But a sudden throbbing in my left elbow gave me pause and made me wonder what I might have done to hurt myself. Except for the tiniest of scrapes, neither my husband nor I found much to worry about. Within hours, however, my elbow was swollen — as big as a tennis ball, quite red and hot to the touch. My oldest daughter, Katie, who’s a physician assistant, quickly diagnosed an infection and encouraged me to see my primary care physician. That’s rule No. 1: Everybody should have a primary care physician.

My doctor confirmed Katie’s diagnosis, took a sample from the offending joint and put me on antibiotics. But things continued to get worse and I ended up in the emergency room at Norton Brownsboro Hospital. Rule No. 2: When things get bad, know where the nearest emergency room is.

The hospital staff was efficient and kind. The emergency room physician explained I had a serious infection that would require stronger antibiotics and surgery to get to the source of the infection. Rule No. 3: It’s good to have a team of experts on hand when you need them.

While infectious disease doctors worked to determine what kind of infection I had, an orthopedic specialist cleaned out the infected area, which had begun to spread into nearby tissue. Talk about being thankful I had the help I needed, when I needed it! From start to finish, it was a crazy 72 hours.

Now that I am on the mend, what am I most grateful for? I’m grateful that I have health insurance; a wonderful primary care physician; and an efficient, no-nonsense emergency room staff and super-smart doctors and nurses who were part of an exceptional team to help me get my formerly under-appreciated good health back.

To those who do this life-preserving business every day, please know how much you are appreciated and how grateful I am that you are there for us when we need you.