When I think of the difference Jamestown Regional Medical Center has had on my family, I can’t help but get choked up. If it weren’t for the Emergency Department and wonderful emergency medical services staff, as well as the CPR starter and the flight team from Devils Lake, I would have lost my best friend. It’s not just the Emergency Department, it is also my JRMC “family” who supported, consoled, encouraged and listened to me for more than two months while I was gone. Without the support of my family here or my family at home, we would have had so much more to worry about.

I work in the Health Information Management department, also known as the Medical Records. We don’t work directly with patients, but we play a key role for both patients and providers alike.

It was lunchtime on July 25, 2017. People were taking their breaks. I was releasing something to someone when I got the call from my dad.

“Honey, Phillip is on his way to the hospital in the ambulance and has had some sort of heart attack. He was found lifeless in the back lot, but a driver pulled into the yard started CPR. They shocked him a few times, finally got a weak pulse and are on their way to JRMC.”

My response was something like “Are you kidding me?”

To me this was impossible. Phillip, my husband, was 38 years old. Two months ago, he’d had a physical with no real red flags. He’d just spent a hot weekend in Kansas racing go-karts with our boys. Surely this isn’t right. I panicked. I didn’t know what to do. It seemed like I couldn’t find anyone around to let them know what was happening. As I was about to run upstairs to await the arrival of my husband, my best friend and the father of my boys, I heard the overheard page: “TRAUMA CODE Emergency Department…TRAUMA CODE Emergency Department….”

I RAN.

And, can I just add, I don’t run.

I remember going to the front of the ED and was met by Marietta Heidt, the admissions clerk at the time. Marietta knows me and my family well.

I couldn’t think of who to call or what to do. I was hyperventilating, in full-blown panic mode. I knew my dad was coming because he called me. I knew he would call my mom. Marietta called my mother-in-law. And one of my co-workers found Phillip’s stepmom who also works here, to get ahold of his dad. I called Logan, my oldest son who lives in Fargo, so he could meet his dad at a hospital there. That was the hardest call I’ve ever had to make.

Thankfully, I had help telling our youngest son, Wyatt.

Then, Sheila Krapp, the ED manager, brought me back to the family/waiting area consultation room where she updated me on his condition. Honestly, I have no idea what she said. I just knew that it didn’t sound good.

I remember hearing phrases; these are the ones I remember.

“We’re waiting for a Lifeflight.”

“He will be transferred.”

“We’re intubating.”

I got to see Phillip before he was transferred. I remember Registered Nurse Ryan Keffler being one of Phillip’s nurses. I remember Ryan really looking me in the eyes to explain things to me. Ryan knew that I might hear what he was saying but I also might not process the information. The Emergency Department treated my family with respect and patience.

When you hear “full organ sustaining mode,” “respiratory failure” “PEEP (I HATE PEEP),” “Trach and Peg,” “artificial means,” “brady episodes,” “mini heart attack due to a brady episode, “brain damage,” and “no purposeful movements;” you really value the knowledge you have from working in healthcare 18 years. You also see the reality what could happen next. Over the next few months, my new normal changed. I was at a hospital everyday almost all day long.  I questioned everything. I questioned what would be for not only my husband, but for my family. My new normal became all-medical, all the time. There were countless conversations between the wonderful staff in the intensive care unit and the doctors assigned to Phillip. I took in all the information I could and then shared it with my sons, my in-laws and my family. Decisions were ultimately up to me. I valued the knowledge of the staff and I valued the people that knew us that always thought of us, prayed for us and just plain sent a positive vibe to us in Fargo. For six weeks, we didn’t know the answers. For six weeks, we waited. Then one great night, he was awake.

“No brain damage,” doctors said.

After Phillip’s episode in July, we finally got great news in September. No brain damage. Not even a spec on the scan!

I was lucky. We were lucky. Phillip was lucky; we know that! We also know that without EMS, the Emergency Department, HIM and all of JRMC and Sanford Fargo, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Phillip is home. He is fine, no effects whatsoever. It’s simply amazing!

Without JRMC and those involved in the recovery, I would’ve never decided that ultimately I want my nursing license. I want to be a patient advocate. I want to be able to lend a voice, a comforting ear, a compassionate smile and above all else, I want to make THE difference.