Angie Dotson, RN BSN, is a community educator at Henry County Medical Center. Her job revolves around teaching people the symptoms and signs of heart attacks, strokes, etc. Dotson, because she walks the walk, knew there was no family history of either. Imagine her surprise in March 2014 when she stopped to gas her vehicle and experienced complete double vision.
“I was preparing for a community screening and had been putting up signs,” she said. “When I tried to get out of my car it felt like my eyes were being pulled into my nose. I was on the phone with my mom and dad and I said, ‘You need to come and get me…something isn’t right.’”
Dotson had bilateral CVAs (strokes) to the cerebellum, and a third in the mid-brain. Her parents took her to Henry County Medical Center’s emergency room, just two blocks away.
“To look at me, I looked normal,” she said. “My eyes weren’t crossed, although they felt that way. The CT was negative, and I was told to follow up with my eye doctor.”
After a visit to her eye doctor the next day, Dotson was told she needed an MRI. She was still experiencing double vision, and nausea had set in. Once the MRI was completed, Dr. Mitchell called the ER immediately.
“From the moment I walked in, the first question was, ‘Are you opposed to flying?’” Dotson said.
Dotson praised Craig Peeveyhouse, now the director of the HCMC ER.
“He took great care of me both days,” she said. “He was fabulous. They knew I needed to get to a higher level of care…fast. A lot of patients with this type of stroke do not survive, and if they do the quality of life is not good.”
The Waverly, Tenn., Air Evac crew of pilot Keith Roy, flight nurse Karen Ledbetter and flight paramedic Frank Miller flew Dotson to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. Dotson remembers how calm she felt on the aircraft.
“Karen talked to me the whole way there,” she said. “They put a headset on me and told me what was going on. There was no fear because she told me everything they were doing – she made a huge difference.”
Ledbetter wrote down a cell phone number for Dotson’s husband, Jason, and called him upon arrival at the hospital.
“He was still driving, and that was such a comfort to him, knowing I arrived fast and safe,” she said.
Ledbetter, now program director for the Waverly Air Evac base, said she always tries to keep the patient’s family informed.
“They’re en route from Paris, and don’t know what’s going on with their loved one,” Ledbetter said. “A lot of times I’ll call back and talk to the family members or hospital staff to check on the patient. You get in that zone and do what you’re trained to do, so it’s nice to hear back from the patients and know they are recovering well.”
Thanks to the combined efforts of doctors at HCMC and Vanderbilt University, and the rapid transport from Air Evac, Dotson is back at work, and celebrated her 40th birthday in December 2014.
“You have no idea how excited we are to have Air Evac in Henry County,” Dotson said. “It’s so wonderful to work with people like Mark Pierce (program director at the Henry County base). We are the sixth generation to live on our family farm in Henry County, and we are very vested in this community. People at Air Evac are from this area…that makes a difference, because they are invested in this community, too.”