When Creig Doyle of Holderness woke up on the morning of November 11, 2010, he noticed his right arm felt stiff and that it was a little swollen. Seeing two “red dot pin prick” marks he chalked it up to a spider bite. As he was shaving he recalls his arm feeling tighter, and that he couldn’t make a fist, but continued on with his morning routine.
As the chief of Plymouth State University Campus Police, he arrived at the office about 7:45 am. By 8:30 am the swelling in his arm had inched up his bicep toward his shoulder, and the little voice inside his head was saying, “Maybe I should get this checked out.” He proceeded to the Emergency Department at Speare Memorial Hospital.
Being Veteran’s Day it was fairly quiet. After being triaged, Sharon Hilger, RN, talked to him about what was going on, and she was followed a few minutes later by Dr. Steve Danosi. Creig notes, “He had a really good demeanor, personal but professional, wanting more detail on symptoms and their onset. He disagreed with my assessment saying, ‘I don’t think we have any spiders in New Hampshire that would make this happen, so let’s see if we can figure out what is going on.’ That’s when he decided on blood work and ordered an ultrasound.”
It wasn’t long before Dr. Danosi had an answer. The ultrasound showed Creig had a wrist to clavicle blood clot that Dr. Danosi began addressing right away. “Oh, you mean I’m staying,” Creig asked.
For wife Leonetta, it was a miracle he took himself to the emergency room to begin with. She says, “He down plays everything. When I arrived at Speare he was still in the Emergency Department, but moved upstairs shortly thereafter. I was very concerned because it was a blood clot, and I realized the seriousness of it even though he was playing like its nothing.”
Had Creig waited any longer to come to the Emergency Department, he would be telling a different story. His primary care physician/hospitalist Dr. Kathy Pearson was clearly worried, which solidified Leonetta’s concern.
Creig says, “Dr. Pearson gave me a very somber over the top of the glasses look, ‘It is a good thing you came in when you did. We got you in the nick of time.’ That’s when the light bulb went on that this is serious.”
In an effort to dissolve the blood clot, Creig was taking Coumadin and on a heparin drip. While not in traction, he had limited mobility with his arm propped up on two pillows. At times he was allowed to sit in a chair, but otherwise no walking around. Dr. Pearson was insistent, “You are not to move.”
Despite “just hanging out” in the hospital for eight days, Leonetta remembers her husband to be in good spirits. Creig insists, “I was in no pain, I didn’t feel sick and felt so guilty for taking up a bed.”
Leonetta says it was the teamwork of the staff—clinical and non clinical— that made a difference. “I want everyone to know how appreciative I was. They never made you feel rushed or imposed upon. When they were there, they were there to take care of you like you were the only patient on the floor. It just amazed me they gave you the time you needed and maybe a few minutes more. You began to feel like it’s a family.”
Creig and Leonetta made a particularly special connection with LNA Amy (last name). The emotion rises in Leonetta’s voice as she reflects back: “Amy talked to me at length a few different times. Once was just to ease my concerns and say whatever she could to encourage me. Then we began to connect on a more personal level. The day we found out something showed up on a follow-up x-ray and might be a spot on his liver, Amy was there for me. I had questions and she helped put me at ease.” An MRI cleared up any lingering concerns.
Leonetta continues, “Amy was one of those people God puts in your life to help you through something. She is a woman of faith, and so are we . . . I felt that I had the faith support I needed. It was then I realized this is a community, and I felt I belonged.”
Never, in any other hospital I’ve been anywhere, was the staff concerned about my needs as a family member like they were here at Speare. It was a good warm feeling. That stood out most importantly for me.”
Creig went back to work the Monday after Thanksgiving, but put himself on the “rubber gun squad” during the five months of physical therapy that followed. He became an avid reader during his down time, but is back to being fully active, working around his yard, as well as trying something new—kayaking.