“I’m convinced Laurie has nine lives,” said Brooke Anderson, RN Case Manager, Lifespark Community Home Care, who began working with her client in August 2020. Although Laurie, now 77, was struggling with several chronic health conditions, including lymphedema, vascular wounds, depression, and pain, she initially only wanted help with medication management.
For Brooke, that meant reaching out to her client’s primary care physician, cardiologist, psychiatrist, and pain specialist to request refills, picking up prescriptions, and setting up her meds, including a narcotic that she locks in a timed pill dispenser. Soon, Brooke was also scheduling doctor appointments and accompanying Laurie to the clinic.
But when an exacerbation of lymphedema caused the wounds on Laurie’s legs to break open, Brooke brought in Lifespark Skilled Home Health to help heal her client’s legs.
Four months later, the wounds opened up again. “Even with home health coming in three days a week, I went from seeing Laurie twice a month to every week to daily,” Brooke said. And still her legs wouldn’t heal.
“I finally told her that she needed a live-in caregiver,” she said, but Laurie, a private person who lived alone, wasn’t interested. She did, however, agree to having a caregiver come in twice a week for four hours at a time. Brooke taught the caregiver how to bandage the leg wounds, and between the two of them, they managed to keep Laurie out of the hospital.
Sometimes it takes a crisis
Then, one Sunday evening, Laurie called Brooke from Urgent Care. She’d fallen the day before and needed a ride home. “She doesn’t really have anyone else she can count on, so she relies on me,” Brooke said.
The next day, Brooke got a call from the hospital. Laurie had fallen again and had been admitted. But it was worse than that: she’d also had heart attack, was now intubated, and had developed sepsis.
After a week in the hospital, Laurie was again discharged to Brooke’s care. “This time when I picked her up, I said, ‘Now do you believe me that you need a live-in caregiver?’ She did,” Brooke said. Within 24 hours, a full-time Lifespark caregiver had moved in.
Thriving and ready to move forward
The new arrangement was a success. Laurie was thriving and her wounds were healing. In fact, one leg had healed enough to no longer need a dressing and the other had just a few small lesions.
Laurie felt hopeful for the first time in years, because now she could have heart valve replacement surgery which her cardiologist believed would improve her circulation, reduce the edema, and prevent future leg wounds. But first, she would need a CT scan, and a week later, an angiogram. Brooke cleared her schedule so she would be available.
Turn of events
On the day of the CT scan, Brooke brought Laurie to the hospital, checked her in, and went to the visitor lounge to wait. Suddenly, she was being ushered into the surgical suite. Laurie had suffered a cardiac arrest and the surgical team was frantically trying to restart her heart. Brooke stayed with her for the next seven hours until her family arrived.
Not only did Laurie survive the ordeal, but while she was in the ICU, the team was able to perform the valve replacement surgery. After a couple of days, she was discharged, and her live-in caregiver moved back in.
Six weeks post-surgery, Laurie no longer needs a caregiver. “I’m blown away by her progress—she’s doing even better than before she coded,” said Brooke, who is back to seeing her client once a week. “She’s not falling, she has way less depression, and she’s cut back on the narcotic she was taking for pain.” One other wonderful—and completely unexpected—outcome: she’s reconnected with a family member she lost touch with years ago.
Nine lives or not, Laurie is doing her best to make the most of this one.
To find out how Lifespark can help you or a loved one live a fuller, more independent life, give us a call at 952-345-8770, or visit Community Home Care.