Retired French Teacher is Savoring Life Once Again Thanks to Exceptional Emergency Care

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In emergency medicine, every second counts, and having a well-trained, dedicated team can mean the difference between life and death. At Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge (MMC), the emergency room (ER) is a place where expertise, compassion and teamwork translate into exceptional care.

Bethany Crabtree, a registered nurse and clinical manager in the ER, says it starts with a diverse team of healthcare professionals.

“Emergency care is multi-faceted,” Crabtree says. “While we all have a foundational knowledge that allows us to provide emergency care, we also have many other certifications that provide us with additional education and resources to care for the critically ill in their time of need.”

The ER team includes many different kinds of care providers from registered nurses, paramedics, techs and health unit coordinators to social work. “Each individual adds a wealth of knowledge to our team,” Crabtree says.

The MMC emergency department is also directly connected to an array of specialists including surgery and pulmonology, cardiology and OB/GYN among many others. 

Deciding to Go to the Emergency Room

Amy Graham enjoys a warm beverage at a local coffee shop.

One of the many recipients of life-saving emergency care at MMC is Amy Graham, a recently retired teacher who lives in Clinton.

A steaming cup of hot chocolate sits on the table as Graham takes a brightly colored macaron from a small box before she tells her story. The sweet treat reminds her of France.

During her years teaching the French language to high school students, Graham has traveled to France several times, enjoying the language and culture in person. But today she is content to relax at a local coffee shop and enjoy the simple gift of being alive.

“My leg was basically the same size from my thigh to my ankle, it was purple and it was cold,” Graham says. “It was terrifying! 

Graham woke up before sunrise one morning in April 2024 to see the shocking evidence of a blood clot. At first, she wasn’t sure what to do.

She texted her husband, who was downstairs: “Something’s wrong. I can’t use my right leg. I can’t walk.”

Graham also called a retired surgical nurse next door who urged her to get emergency care as quickly as possible. A few minutes later, an ambulance arrived. 

Emergency Care for a Blood Clot

The MMC ER team is trained to provide a quick and thorough assessment determining the level of emergency a patient is experiencing. The assessment can begin from the first contact on the scene, to the ambulance and then on through the hospital doors. 

Once the patient is inside the hospital, a very specific and efficient process begins for quick and seamless care in critical moments.

“It allows us to get patients in front of a provider quickly and begin important tests and procedures needed to get the patient on the way to recovery,” Crabtree says.

After an x-ray and a CT scan, Graham was referred to vascular surgeon William Dallas, MD, one of the many specialists aligned with the Methodist Medical Center emergency department. Graham was diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is the medical terminology for a blood clot that forms in one of the larger veins.

“The typical symptoms can include swelling of the extremity, pain, warmth and tenderness,” Dr. Dallas says, adding that there may also be redness on the site of the blood clot. 

Emergency care for a blood clot is always important because the ER can provide labs and imaging studies to confirm the problem and intervene. 

“One of the risk factors of a DVT is the potential for the clot to travel to the patient’s lungs causing a pulmonary embolism,” says Dr. Dallas. “Ms. Graham ultimately had to undergo an operative procedure where the clot burden in her vein was removed mechanically using a special device.”

Dr. Dallas says not everyone who experiences a DVT has to have surgery, but Graham did because of the “extensive nature” of blood clot.

After Graham was shown the images of her leg and consulted with her surgeon, she fully understood just how critical her condition was.

“The clot went from my abdomen, just off center, all the way to my hip and then all the way down my leg to my foot, so it was massive,” Graham says, then she quips with a sly smile, “I’ve always been an overachiever.”

Always Ready

After a short stay in the hospital and a prescription for blood thinner, Graham is doing well today. She says everyone at Methodist Medical Center was “fabulous,” and she’s glad to be getting on with her life.

A bonus for Graham was that some of the healthcare professionals who took care of her were her former students. She’s also grateful for the procedure that resolved her crisis. 

“To say that Dr. Dallas is a good surgeon would be an understatement,” Graham adds.

“We never know what is going to come through the doors,” Crabtree says. “Whether we need to be a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear, a voice of reason or a lifesaver, here at MMC we are always ready to meet our patients’ needs.” 

Meanwhile, Amy Graham is happy to be at her quiet table sipping hot chocolate, snacking on macarons and remembering Paris. But there’s no doubt she’ll also remember her medical crisis for a long time and the people who cared for her so she could enjoy these simple pleasures and many more to come.

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