“I am a married lady from Eastern North Carolina who has lived in many countries and had a varied work experience of selling jewelry, then fundraising for the American Cancer Society to selling durable medical equipment.
My husband is twenty years my senior. For approximately five years he has had an afib problem with his heart. For the first of those years he was treated at two medical centers in the eastern part of North Carolina. The doctors at those centers felt that they could no longer help me to improve his health. After those doctors did not give him any hope, I contacted a friend who I knew came to see a doctor at Baptist to see if he would ask this doctor to see Russell. Our friend did ask that doctor to see my husband and the doctor very kindly and promptly agree to see him.
The Family House
After we came for Russell’s first appointment with the doctor, a series of tests were scheduled for which we would need to stay overnight in Winston Salem. The office manager at this medical practice asked if we knew of the Family House. Which we did not, he did immediately arranged for us to take a tour of the House as well as requesting that we stay there during my husband’s tests. We had a very positive first impression from seeing this facility with its wonderful building and grounds. The lady who showed us around had been volunteering here since the House opened and she was quite an enthusiastic guide. A happy coincidence for me was the fact that the dining area had been given by a family whose eldest daughter went to high school with me.
When we returned for his test, we stayed at the Family House which for us turned out to be our good fortune to be here for the first of many visits. When we arrived we were very warmly greeted and showed to our very good sized room which was nicely appointed with two comfortable beds, a good size bathroom, large TV and easy to work air conditioner. The room overlooked lovely grounds. The staff took an interest in our comings and goings always wishing us a successful day. That interest and encouragement is very instrumental to our love of this place.
My husband needed a cardioversion which was scheduled shortly and another request went to the Family House for us to stay here. We came up to stay for what we thought would be a couple of days. He had his procedure and we came back to the Family House for him to rest, then we ate, and afterwards played a game bingo. Both the dinner and bingo were provided by wonderful people who gave of their cooking talents and financial means to help those traveling the medical highway journey. Boy, have those meals been great and the games played afterwards a great diversion from one’s personal issues.
Boy, have those meals been great and the games played afterwards a great diversion from one’s personal issues.
Calm in an Urgent Situation
The next morning when we woke up my husband expressed that he had been restless all night long and when he stood up to shave he became very short of breath which concerned me greatly. He did not want me to but I went to the front desk and the staff member on duty advised me to call the EMTs. She remained calm to smooth my nerves and came with me back to the room to access my husbands condition for herself. Unbeknownst to us she called 911 again to stress the urgentness of the situation. My husband was transported to Baptist in critical condition with flash pulmonary edema. He was to remain in the hospital for one week. I kept in constant with the front desk staff as they always expressed their interest in his condition as well as how I was surviving. When my husband ‘s son arrived from Miami, he was welcomed here with open arms by the staff. After a week my husband came back to the Family House, to great greetings and welcome by the staff. Over this situation and their fine care of us, we felt bonded to the House.
My Own Diagnosis
I do not think I would have been comfortable in this process if I had not been able to have the Family House staff to support me through hugs, words of encouragement and at times a great sense of humor.
We continued to come back and forth for his checkups and be fortunate enough to stay here. Then as the old expression goes, the other shoe dropped as I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had for along time been followed at a major medical center nearer our home. After four months my case did not seem to be moving forward as I had hoped, so I called a friend’s son who had mentioned that a close friend of his was a breast surgeon in Winston Salem. My friend’s son was able to secure a prompt appointment for me with this surgeon to whom I am greatly indebted for taking my case. As good fortune was to have it this surgeon was the husband of the director of the Family House and the son of my mother in law’s doctor of twenty five years. I returned to the Family House in addition to my role as caregiver, also as care receiver. The latter role does not come easily to me so the staff helped me work on this transition by including me in small group discussion with student nurses, PAs and medical students. Encouraging me to interact with the therapy dog, participate in the relaxation techniques that were being taught. Since my husband is older, I was fortune to have some wonderful family and friends to come to stay with me while I had my surgery at Medical Park and afterwards when I came back to the Family House, I felt as if I was welcomed back to my second home. Over the course of the next year I traveled back and forth from my home to Winston many times for treatment. I do not think I would have been comfortable in this process if I had not been able to have the Family House staff to support me through hugs, words of encouragement and at times a great sense of humor.
I am on my behalf and my husbands so grateful that the Family House took us in from the cold outside world and warmed our hearts.”