Singing Their Praises
Hatfield Man’s Experience is a
Matter of Life and Breath
Jeffrey Greaser says he’s met a lot of Lansdale Hospital “angels” since his near-death experience on November 5, 2010, when he arrived by ambulance in acute respiratory distress. A professional vocalist, Jeffrey’s been singing the staff’s praises ever since.
Jeffrey had been having some shortness of breath, but fell gravely ill that night. “I felt like I was drowning – I couldn’t breathe.” His wife, Jane, called 9-1-1 while the retired postal worker fought for air.
“I was so worried, but once I got to Lansdale Hospital’s Emergency Department, I knew I was in good hands. I couldn’t breathe lying down, and the ambulance staff couldn’t allow me to sit up. Once Dr. King met me at the doors, she took over.”
Emergency Department Physician Jennifer King, M.D. was surprised to hear Jeffrey express that his diaphragm wasn’t functioning, in the midst of his acute distress. “Most people, unless they sing or play instruments, don’t really recognize that aspect. But he was right. It wasn’t moving, along with what we suspected was a pulmonary embolism.”
Pulmonary embolism occurs in some people with blood clots in the veins of their legs. Sometimes large pieces of clot will break off and travel from the legs to the heart and then lodge in the lungs, blocking off blood supply to the lungs. This condition can be fatal.
Dr. King explains, “We needed a CT scan to be sure of the embolism, but Jeffrey couldn’t lie flat. Rather than resorting to placing him on a ventilator, we fashioned a BiPap mask (used to help with sleep apnea) to cover his face and force air into his lungs. We then proceeded with the scan, which showed a ‘saddle embolus.’ This means the clot was blocking the main vessel into each lung. Because he was a singer with such large lung capacity, he was able to continue oxygenating his blood—improving his chances for survival.”
Dr. King and Cardiologist Joseph C. Kraynak, M.D., chief of Lansdale Hospital’s Medical Staff, administered TPA, a potent medication that dissolves clots anywhere in the body. TPA is used to dissolve blood clots that can cause heart attacks, strokes, and pulmonary embolisms. The medication is simply injected into an intravenous catheter.
Dr. Kraynak adds, “Our echocardiogram demonstrated that the blood clots in his lungs were also seriously jeopardizing the function of his heart. The TPA was quickly started, and shortly thereafter he felt much better. He demonstrated positive clinical signs that blood flow was restored to his lungs, and that his heart function improved.
“We then started Jeffrey on standard blood thinning agents – intravenous heparin and oral Coumadin – to minimize risk of forming additional clots in his legs or in his lungs.”
Jeffrey adds, “Dr. King and Dr. Kraynak were really fantastic. They called in a team of about six physicians. I felt the worry leave me, and I could just give myself over to what they needed to do.”
The Hatfield man’s welcome extended throughout his stay. “When I got to the ICU, everyone was terrific, the nurses – Kelly, Carrie, Kim, and Heather were all great,” Jeffrey says. “I wish I could remember everyone’s name, but I never saw so many people concerned for me and my family.
“Even when I got to the main floor, I knew they had other patients, but they made me feel like I was the only one. Even the hospital’s chef, Al, was the greatest guy. Every day he stuck his head in and visited. It was such a ‘pick-me-up’.” Again, nurses like Vernice and Cara were just so attentive. No matter what shift, no matter what I needed, they took control and helped me,” Jeffrey acknowledges.
Three weeks after he was discharged on November 9, 2010, Jeffrey was back to his job driving an elementary school bus. “I missed the kids, and they made a card for me.”
“I really feel I was given my life back by these ‘angels’ at Lansdale Hospital. The fact that I am telling my story is testament to that,” Jeffery concludes.
Of course, Thanksgiving was a really special time for the Greaser family. Jeffrey’s daughter suggested each family member write what they were most thankful for on the tablecloth. The plan is to bring it out each year to remember their blessings.
Jeffrey says, “My granddaughter wrote that she was thankful for grammy and pops. I said that I was thankful for my Lansdale Hospital ‘angels’ and my family.
“I am just so grateful. Life is good.”