It was the phone call no loved one ever wants to get or to make, and it changed Autumn Paciera’s life. Paciera wants to share her story with you so that you may never have to go through what she and her husband Philip endured.
On January 1, 2014, I was talking to my husband on the phone and just got a feeling that things were not right with him. He had had the flu since Christmas Eve. He was struggling to breathe and I could hear it. He was to a point that he could not physically get out of his truck.
I knew where he had shut down the night before, so I looked up the non-emergency number for the police department in that area. I had them send an ambulance to his location.
While I was on the phone with them, a 911 call came in and things got very serious and real very fast.
The operator asked me a few questions about my husband including his phone number. She called his number. HE was the patient for that 911 call. I was on the phone and could hear the entire thing. He had gotten out of his truck to go inside and collapsed. He does not remember any of that.
He was taken to Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center in Virginia. It took over an hour for me to find out if he had been transported and if so, where to. Imagine for a minute – a SOLID hour of knowing that things are bad but nothing else. It was hell.
Once I found out where he was, I was told that he was being admitted for pneumonia. Sigh of relief, right.
Antibiotics and fluids and home to rest, right? NO!!! By Monday the 6th, there was little improvement and he was still on a high amount of oxygen.
There was something else wrong with him. BAD WRONG!!! They ordered a CT scan and found PULMONARY EMBOLISMS — yes more than one, in BOTH lungs!
This was the point where I knew that I had to be with him. With the help of too many to count, I booked a flight and arrived on Wednesday the 8th. When I arrived, I was so relieved to see him alive, but it was so hard to see him reduced to what he was.
He was but on 2 different blood thinners one injectable and the other was Cumadin. The injectable was BRUTAL. It burns like fire every time it is injected and there were two shots twice a day. The shots also left his abdomen looking like someone had used a jack-hammer on him.
He still had a clot left in his leg that they were trying to keep from moving. He was restricted to strict bed rest for two weeks and lost 25 pounds while there. I had to fly home and leave him still in the hospital on the 12th. He was finally released on the 15th. But it does not end there. He will be under treatment for at least 12 months.
Could this have been prevented?
Yes it could. Trucking is a very sedentary job. When they explained it to me they described the veins like a water hose. If you kink a hose it restricts the flow of the water. When they are sitting the veins get kinked. The blood flow in the legs from the feet to the hips gets restricted and the blood does what sedentary blood does. IT CLOTS. The survival percent for ONE Pulmonary Embolism is less than 10%. We need to stress to our drivers that they MUST get out and walk 5-10 minutes EVERY 2 hours. And not just a trip to the bathroom.
Walk with a purpose! Because of the above events my husband is now required to do this every hour.
What Is Your Duty As A Wife/Girlfriend/Significant other?
You know your man. Go with your gut. If things don’t seem right health-wise, then chances are there is something wrong. You MUST know where they are. I recommend Life360 but it did not help us that day. It did not have him pinged even close to where he was. I was only able to help him because I ASKED where he shut down. Know all information about his truck and have pictures on file.
Missing Truck Driver Alert Network has a flyer that will give you all of the info that you need to have.
Our drivers live their life to provide for us and our families. It is our job to try to keep them safe and get help to their stubborn asses when they need it.
Hopefully you have made it this far and are still reading. My husband was told that if he had laid down to nap or sleep for the night that he WOULD NOT have woken up. He had pneumonia, congestive heart failure, and multiple pulmonary embolisms. I am blessed that he is still alive.
Thank you for reading and hopefully it will prevent this happening to anyone else.