Alva Review-Courier -

A life saved because of Alva hospital location


Randy Hamilton woke up normally at 5:45 a.m. and started his routine of getting ready to go to work at his store, Alva's Market. About 15 minutes later he felt sick and experienced a swelling in his stomach. His wife, Mary asked if he wanted her to take him to Share Medical Center (SMC). He said, "No, let me sit down for a minute."

A few minutes later his stomach was distended as if it held a soccer ball, and Mary once again asked if he wanted to go to the hospital. This time, he said "Yes."

After arrival, one of the nurses commented about his growing stomach, "You look about nine months pregnant!"

Mary said, "I knew it was something bad because by now he was in great pain!"

The Hamiltons were puzzled because Randy had not been sick a single day. He hadn't been feeling bad; he had just been living normally.

ER personnel determined he was very dehydrated, his veins had collapsed and it was a wicked struggle to find one to accept an IV. Also they needed a blood sample for testing. Mary commented, "I was so impressed with the Share Medical staff as they never gave up in this difficult situation ... rotating among several providers to find a non-collapsed vein."

A CT scan was done and Dr. Michael Lawrence said, "We've got to get him to OKC to a place with additional diagnostic machines. I think it is severe pancreatitis." After a 40-minute flight to St. Anthony's Hospital in Oklahoma City, the doctors elevated the diagnosis to acute pancreatitis.

Son Todd Hamilton was already in the city to watch the landing of the helicopter carrying his father. Dr. Lawrence had warned him by telephone that there was a good chance his dad wouldn't complete the trip alive.

Mary, daughter Lynn and son Paul drove to OKC. Mary praised the combined efficiency of Share Medical Center and the St. Anthony's team. Share quickly arranged for the OKC hospital and the helicopter, and the St. Anthony's staff was waiting, quickly welcoming Todd to the room prepared for Randy.

Randy's gall bladder was producing numerous gallstones that were moving up into the pancreas. One of the physicians said they only see something like this about twice a year and most people don't survive. Mary learned that St. Anthony had a specialized machine that would "go after" those stones and they were the only hospital in the area with such equipment.

On the second day, the gall bladder was removed, and the machine that would zap the stones was used during the surgery.

This helped the over-the-top pancreas numbers to start coming down. The doctors and family began to hope for recovery.

Also during this time, Randy was receiving a large amount of IV fluid to help fight dehydration. This fluid began to accumulate around the heart. It was NOT an optimal surgery situation, but they had to add more medicine to remove the fluid.

Mary said, "At about this time the other physicians called in an infectious disease specialist because Randy started running a very high fever."

The specialist asked, "Do you believe in God and do you believe in prayer?" Randy said, "Of course!"

The doctor advised, "Call upon all the friends and relatives you have for prayer. We need help in figuring this out." The infectious disease doctor started a massive round of antibiotics to try to lower the excessive body temperature.

The prayers worked because Randy's fever came down, and his pancreas level came down.

After two weeks in St. Anthony, Randy was dismissed with an IV pick in his arm. Mary was trained to give the antibiotics through his IV three days a day.

St. Anthony's hospital arranged for home health care nurses to meet him in Alva.

One of the hazards of being bedfast is the possibility of developing pneumonia. While he was at home in Alva, that occurred and Randy was re-admitted to Share Medical Center. Mary said, "Earlier, they took defenses against that possibility in OKC by providing breathing treatments and keeping him moving."

X-rays were completed at Share confirming pneumonia, and Dr. Rader in OKC, using the telemedicine equipment at SMC, easily monitored Randy's lung sounds.

Mary said, "The telemedicine service was amazing. Dr. Rader could hear better in OKC than folks with stethoscopes could hear in the room. Rader said, 'I'm going to put you on antibiotics for the upper half of your body, while the docs in OKC can give you antibiotics for the lower half.'"

On a return checkup to St. Anthony's in Oklahoma City, blood clots were found in the lung. So Randy has to take it easy, to keep from loosening the clots to keep them from flowing into the blood stream.

St. Anthony's in Oklahoma City offered to keep him there, but Randy declined, saying, "I'm going to Share. We'll just go back to our primary doctor (Michael Lawrence) because he takes very good care of me. Also, we are very comfortable with the care we are getting at Share." Dr. Lawrence started Randy on a blood thinner that the OKC doctors said they were going to use.

One of the side-effects of the blood thinners is dizziness. Randy said, "When I stand up to walk I get light headed. Looks like I will be on this from three to six months, so I can't drive just yet."

Mary added, "One thing we've noticed is that Share Medical Center is the cleanest hospital we've been to in years. It is the brightest, with wonderful light paint that makes you feel better because of the atmosphere. Even if you are sick, the cleanliness and brightness bring you up. The nursing staff is just superb.

"We sure appreciate our hospital and both of us are convinced that on that first morning, had Share not been five minutes away, and if we had to drive 45 minutes elsewhere, Randy would not still be with us.

"We're doing this interview not to seek pity, but to give huge thanks to the Share Medical and St. Anthony's team. We have a wonderful healthcare chain working well in Alva. Also, many people have inquired what went on and this is a good way to explain everything to them.

"I just want people to know if you wake up in the morning with a stomachache, don't automatically ignore the symptoms and make a guess that it is minor," said Mary. She also thanked everyone for the calls, cards, visits and text messages. She said, "It was so nice to watch Randy reading those cards with a smile as he fought for his life. I promise, I'm going to start sending more cards to make more people smile."


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