March 31, 2010 > News Article Prompts Man to Seek Urgent Medical Care for Wife
News Article Prompts Man to Seek Urgent Medical Care for Wife
Carol Mahmood had been sick for a couple of weeks with a bacterial respiratory infection. Her regular physician had prescribed antibiotics, but she was growing increasingly tired and weak. She also was experiencing episodes of mental confusion and impaired thinking. Still, she resisted going back to the doctor.
"I was having mood swings, but I thought perhaps they were just anxiety attacks, and I didn't want to seem foolish by going to the doctor for something that wasn't important," Mrs. Mahmood says.
Then one night, when she was feeling particularly exhausted and confused, her husband Syed happened to read an article in the Tri-City Voice newspaper that prompted him to insist that they head to Washington Hospital right away.
"I was just scanning through the paper when the headline 'Diabetes Can Be a Heart-Breaking Disease' caught my eye," Mr. Mahmood recalls.
The article featured an interview with Washington Hospital cardiologist Ash Jain, M.D., explaining the link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease. As part of its commitment to educating the community about various medical conditions and treatments, the hospital contributes a variety of articles to each issue of the weekly newspaper.
"The first sentence of the article was very striking, noting the high rate of death due to heart and vascular disease among people with diabetes," Mr. Mahmood explains. "Carol, who is now 59, has known since she was 35 that she has diabetes, and she was experiencing many of the symptoms described in the article, including shortness of breath, weakness and extreme fatigue. The article triggered my sixth sense that something was seriously wrong."
Despite his wife's initial resistance, Mr. Mahmood drove his wife to the hospital.
"In the car, I was totally exhausted and I began to lose my ability to sit up straight," Mrs. Mahmood notes. "When we got to the Emergency Room, I just sort of fell out of the car onto the pavement, and the attendants lifted me into a wheelchair and brought me in right away."
Mr. Mahmood adds, "When she fell on the ground, I was worried about the possibility that she was having a stroke, since the article talked about the dangers of strokes in people with diabetes. She was completely 'out of it.' She had no strength, and she was incoherent."
Fortunately, Mrs. Mahmood was not suffering a heart attack or stroke. The medical team quickly diagnosed her with double pneumonia and bronchitis. An extremely low blood sugar level accounted for the exhaustion and disorientation. In extreme cases, drastically low blood sugar levels can result in a coma - and even death.
"While I was ill, I hadn't been eating properly," Mrs. Mahmood explains. "Nevertheless, I had continued to take my diabetes medication, not realizing that the medication was lowering my blood sugar to dangerously low levels."
Under the care of her attending physician, Zulfiqar Ali, M.D., Mrs. Mahmood spent two weeks at the hospital, including several days in the Intensive Care Unit. In addition to treating her pneumonia and bronchitis, the staff closely monitored her blood sugar levels, using insulin injections rather than oral medications to manage her blood sugar more precisely.
"Everyone at Washington Hospital treated me very well," she says. "It is an excellent hospital. I loved the quality of care they provided. The doctors, nurses, kitchen staff - everyone, in fact - all try to make you comfortable and happy. Dr. Ali's prompt attention and ongoing care for the entire two weeks was remarkable."
While his wife was in the hospital, Mr. Mahmood saw Dr. Jain in the hallway one day. "I recognized Dr. Jain from his photo in the newspaper and approached him," Mr. Mahmood says. "I told him I was grateful to him because that newspaper article really saved my wife's life."
Now recovering at home, Mrs. Mahmood celebrated her 37th anniversary with her husband on St. Patrick's Day, March 17. The couple observed the occasion with a quiet dinner at home, enjoying each other's company.
"After 37 years, I really don't want to lose my wife, and that was my fear at the time when I was racing her to the hospital," Mr. Mahmood comments. "After this experience, we have an even greater appreciation for each other. And now I read the newspaper articles from Washington Hospital faithfully every week."
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