Guardian Nurses Mobile Care Coordinator Stephanie McCool, BSN, RN, recently worked with a patient who went through quite a rollercoaster ride on his way to a diagnosis. If it hadn’t been for the persistence of his family, he might have been suffering from life-interrupting symptoms, discomfort, and uncertainty for much longer.
The young man started feeling tingling and numbness on the side of his face as well as dizziness. Over the next few days, the dizziness got worse and worse. Then came nausea, vomiting, and hiccups. By the time he went to the ER, he was weak and off-balance. The ER doctor ordered labs and a CT scan, all of which showed nothing.
He was told he had a case of vertigo and was being sent home with a suggestion to take the over-the-counter drug to control his symptoms.
But, before he left, the doctor was asked if vertigo normally starts with tingling and numbness on the face. When the doctor said no, the family asked for more testing to better diagnose what was happening. An MRI was ordered and it showed two lesions on his brain. He was admitted into the hospital immediately for more testing.
Nurse McCool joined his healthcare team to help him and his family understand all the tests and results in real-time. They ruled out cancer and had slight concerns about other neurological diseases. When clinical staff did a deeper history, the patient’s family recalled that a few months before, he was hit in the head while playing soccer. He was briefly dizzy then, but felt better after a few days and forgot about it.
At a follow-up appointment with a specialist, when other testing was negative, the specialist focused on this head injury. She said that it was likely that the patient had gotten a concussion then, which hadn’t completely healed. When a virus made his body sick recently, it also brought all the concussion symptoms back with a vengeance.
She said he’d recover from the virus in about three weeks with rest and medicine. Three weeks later, he was feeling better and back at work. He’ll have some follow-up tests in a few months to ensure everything is ok.
Nurse McCool’s Advice: Trust your gut. You know your body better than anyone else. You know your loved ones better than a doctor does. Don’t be afraid to speak up when you have concerns.