An accident survivor's advice: trust yourself
Thursday, January 18, 2024
- Heart & Vascular
Amber Allen was exiting the driver’s side of a side-by-side all-terrain vehicle (ATV) when her foot caught on the edge of the vehicle’s bottom frame. With her right leg stuck in the ATV, Amber fell until her left knee slammed into gravel. She scrambled up, embarrassed, and took three or four steps. Just then, someone stopped and pointed to blood soaking Amber’s pant leg.
When she pulled her pant leg up, Amber knew something was wrong. So did her boyfriend, who had first-aid training. “It was gushing blood,” Amber said. “I remember being shocked that slipping was turning into such a big ordeal.”
Her boyfriend used his belt as a tourniquet to stop the flow of blood. They called for an ambulance and Amber was quickly taken to a trauma room when she reached Genesis Hospital. A CT scan showed that she’d sliced an artery. The injury required two layers of stitches, one set internally and the other externally.
Know when to seek care
A week later, during which she had to keep her splinted leg perfectly straight, Amber was getting ready for a family party when she had trouble catching her breath. Chalking it up to asthma, the change of seasons and fatigue from using crutches, she kept going. She had to tell her sister to slow down as they walked a few doors down to the party. Later in the week, she borrowed a lift chair so she could get up and down without feeling completely exhausted. She said she felt like she was going to die.
Unfortunately, the people around her downplayed her complaints, reminding her of her asthma and the physical toll of recovering from an accident.
When it got to the point where she couldn’t walk two feet, Amber said, “This isn’t normal,” and demanded that someone drive her to a doctor. Genesis FirstCare in New Lexington immediately rerouted her to the Emergency Department at Genesis Hospital, where a CT scan showed both lungs full of blood clots. In medical terms, these are called pulmonary emboli.
The next day, Amber had surgery to remove the clots. “I immediately felt better,” she said. “Once they told me I could get up and move around, I was on the move.”
However, she had to stay another night for observation because the right ventricle of her heart was enlarged due to the clots.
Amber has had one follow-up appointment with Abdulhay Albirini, M.D., a Fellowship-trained and Board-certified Interventional Cardiologist at the Genesis Heart & Vascular Institute who performed her procedure. She is doing well but will take blood thinners for a while to prevent new blood clots from forming.
“Amber did the right thing by insisting to seek medical attention.”
Grateful for care
“I’ve heard of people dying from a clot in their lungs the size of a pebble,” Amber said. “I escaped death twice in a few weeks thanks to Genesis.”
She’s thankful for the care Dr. Albirini and the team showed her in the hospital. Dr. Albirini let her family look at the clots and explained what they were seeing. “The nurses had such great personalities,” she said. They joked and made her hospital stay much easier.
Amber knows she’s lucky that she survived despite the time between her symptoms and her trip to the hospital. “I’m glad that God was patient with me,” she said. If she has any advice, it’s to stand your ground when you feel something is wrong. She is already urging friends and family to ignore anyone who minimizes or dismisses symptoms. “Trust your instincts,” she said. “You live in that body, and you know when something is wrong.”
Dr. Albirini said, “Amber did the right thing by insisting to seek medical attention.”