A Story of Being in the Right Place at the Right Time

Medical emergencies are stressful, and stress can be an underlying cause of many health conditions. Anna Hoebee can attest to these two facts based upon her own personal experiences.

Earlier this year, Hoebee’s husband Denny was experiencing vertigo. Anna called Denny’s physician, who told her to take him to the hospital since vertigo could be a sign of a serious problem. Anna couldn’t get Denny into the car, so she called for an ambulance. She followed the ambulance to Bayhealth Hospital, Kent Campus. Naturally, Anna was very anxious as she waited to find out what was going on with her husband.

That’s when things took an unexpected turn. “I suddenly got a headache,” Anna recalled. “I said to my husband, ‘My head hurts really badly,’ then I grabbed my head and started throwing up. The emergency room staff immediately took me to have a CT scan because they thought I’d had an aneurysm.” As it turned out, a blood vessel had burst in Anna’s brain as a result of a combination of blood thinners and high blood pressure — the latter of which was likely brought on by the emotional stress of worrying about her husband’s health.

“They had to put me into a medically induced coma so they could drain my brain of the blood. I was in the Neuro ICU, and I couldn’t have any visitors because my brain needed to be still,” said Anna. “I don’t remember much about being in the hospital since I was in the coma for three weeks.”

Bayhealth Neurosurgery Nurse Practitioner Meghan Schepens, MSN, ANP, CCRN, CNRN, recalls talking to Anna in the Emergency Department to explain what was going on with her condition. “She was scared and understandably so. I explained to her that we needed to do things to help her, which included possibly putting her on the ventilator. I held her hand and told her that we needed to do this to save her. She then responded, ‘If it is going to save my life then do it.’ Giving her the choice and her being able to make that decision was extremely helpful when I went to talk to her family about her condition. Being able to tell them she was awake and was involved in the decision about her care helped make it easier for her family to process the situation.”

When she came out of the coma, Anna recalls Bayhealth Chief of Neurosurgery James Mills, MD, saying to her, “Anna, you don’t know me, but I know a lot about you.”

“Even when patients are unable to communicate directly with us, like Anna, we get to know them personally through their family and the constant care,” said Dr. Mills.

After she was discharged from the Neuro Intensive Care Unit at Bayhealth Hospital, Kent Campus, Anna says she spent about a week in Inpatient Rehabilitation at Bayhealth Milford Memorial and another two weeks at her son and daughter-in-law’s house before returning home. She also said her rehabilitation went much faster than she expected and that she was off a walker in three days. Three months after the incident, Anna was able to start driving short distances during the day and said her primary care physician stated she was doing well.

“Dr. Mills has answered all of my questions,” said Anna. “I asked him if I would ever be able to work again, and he said I needed to focus on slowing down. My primary care doctor told me the same. So after 25 years of staging model homes and working as a housekeeper, I retired.”

“This experience has changed my life in how I approach things. What’s most important is that I stop to smell the roses and proceed with caution. I’ve worked all my life taking care of others, but now I need to focus on not allowing myself to get stressed. If I feel myself getting anxious, I remove myself from the situation so I can focus on calming down.”

As for Denny, he was discharged from the ED after the staff was able to determine he was okay. Anna says she firmly believes if she hadn’t been in the hospital when the blood vessel burst she would have died. “My husband took me back to the hospital to thank all of the staff for what they did to save my life.”

To learn more about Bayhealth Neurosurgery, call 302-526-1470.