An Editorial by Dave Warner

It’s easy to forget sometimes that we have something really unique in a small City like ours…a hospital. How many communities of 5,000 people have that?

Of course, there are all the stories of how it used to be versus what it is today, and then there are the supporters of the hospital and the ones that have had an experience that they didn’t care for.

I’m not going to write about any of that, but I’m going to tell my experience with the hospital because I feel that it was something that is worth writing about.

On March 24th, I had dental surgery in Utica on the upper and lower right side of my mouth. They gave me antibiotics before starting, as well as some Motrin for pain and then they went to work.

After a couple of hours, there were finished and the procedure seemed to go pretty well. I didn’t have much pain during their work, and as I left, I felt pretty good about the morning except for the drool rolling out of the right side of my mouth.

In a few hours, the Novocain started to wear off, but I still had no pain on the right side of my mouth. I thought, “This is great! Dental surgery and no pain!”

By 6 pm that day, I was running a fever and had pain on the LEFT side of my mouth. On top of that, I had a raging migraine headache. As someone who has never experienced one of those types of headaches, that was what I was calling it.

The next day was worse. My temperature was really spiking and all I could do was stay in bed, sweating and shivering at the same time, and wondering when those antibiotic pills were going to start doing their thing. The Motrin wasn’t helping, and all I could think of was “Why is all the pain coming from the LEFT side of my mouth?”

On Friday, my wife Deborah called our doctor, who immediately said to head to the hospital. Of course, being a guy, I told her we should wait until the next day to see if the antibiotics were going to start working, or if Motrin or anything else I was trying to take was going to kick in.

None of it worked and Saturday was really bad. A temperature of 103′, no sleep, sweats, shivering, severe pain from the teeth on the left side of my mouth that shot up through my ear and then across my head. I was so foggy-headed I wasn’t even thinking straight.

That’s when Deborah said, “I can’t think of anything else to do for you, we are heading to the ER.”

I stumbled to the passenger side of our car like a Zombie and got in. Big hint here that something was wrong with me – I ALWAYS drive. The fact that I didn’t even attempt it meant that things were really bad.

We got to the ER and went through the COVID protocols and started explaining everything that was wrong. I was pretty silent because I was out of it.

These days, everything starts with “It sounds like you have COVID.” Of course, after testing negative, that whole idea was dropped and they focused on what might be wrong.

I spent six days in the Little Falls Hospital, and instead of going through all of the medical ins and outs of what was wrong with me, I want to talk about the ‘experience’ of it. For those who have to know, it was Sepsis (probably from the dental surgery) and then a kicker of Pneumonia, which, who knows came from where.

The ER staff on duty that night were fantastic and thorough. There was a concern that it might be Endocarditis, which is an inflammation of your heart’s inner lining, called the endocardium. It’s usually caused by bacteria, so that’s what they were focused on initially.

Of course, they are not equipped to handle heart conditions there and wanted to transfer me to a cardiac unit. They had already started all kinds of testing and had cultures growing by that time, and it was late – 1 am Sunday morning.

I felt safe there, well taken care of, and I thought they were doing everything that anyone else would do. Besides, at that time of the morning? Nobody else was going to do a thing, so I told them I didn’t want a transfer – I wanted to stay.

Let’s just say that caused a bit of battle because they wanted to transfer me and we were pretty adamant about me staying.

In the meantime, there was test after test, antibacterial medicine of all kinds, fluids, you name it. The bacteria going to the heart was ruled out pretty quickly, so they were stuck with someone who was just really damn sick.

You’d think that spending six days in any kind of place, you would run into SOMEONE who was having a bad day. But no…not one person. The nurses were fantastic, every single one of them. The staff was fantastic, all of the helpers, from the cleaning staff to the kitchen folks who delivered the meals. I can’t remember any place that I’ve ever been where I’ve been treated so well.

I also can’t remember being called ‘honey’ so much, except for all my years in Texas. It’s usually a ‘Southern’ thing to be called honey.

My doctor was Norman Freund. He was totally focused on figuring out what exactly was causing everything and obsessed over figuring it out. He was not able to pin it down exactly, but I don’t think anyone could have. Every morning he came in, went over everything in great detail, and told me what the strategy was for the day and what he was looking for.

I tried using my Dave Warner humor on him, but he never seemed to get my jokes (obviously I was starting to feel a little better as the days went on). But, on one of those last days, he turned around and said, “You’re a funny guy,” and walked off.

Sepsis takes a long time to get over, and that many antibiotics, kill some of the good bacteria in your body as well, so there is a long recovery period of several weeks. I feel like I’m at about 80% of where I was before all of this went down.

But, I love the fact that I’m about four minutes from a hospital that gave me this kind of treatment. I really don’t know how to explain the fact that I felt safe, well taken care of, and that they would either figure things out or get me to where I needed to be.

I had someone tell me that if you feel that way in a hospital, it’s half the battle in getting better. I’m glad that my battle was fought at the Little Falls Hospital, and I can’t thank them enough for being there for me.