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Feel Good Friday - Terry Edwards

Surviving and Thriving Against All Odds

Physicians describe Terry Edwards’ near-death experience as a once-in-a-career case of life-saving care. Edwards sees it as a new lease on life thanks to his incredible team.

Terry Edwards has seen a lot in his lifetime. A former Kentucky state trooper turned attorney, and now a retired police law professor, the 67-year-old Bothell resident has come face to face with many life-or-death situations—now, including his own. Earlier this year, Edwards began experiencing debilitating back pain from a herniated disc, leading to a series of emergency room visits.

Things took a sudden turn when Edwards began to feel lightheaded and his wife, Lisa Brouelette, a lieutenant with the Kirkland Police Department, found that he had lost consciousness. She quickly called 911.

When the medics arrived, they immediately observed that Edwards was struggling to breathe. Knowing that EvergreenHealth was his best option for emergency care, they raced him to the Kirkland hospital.

Life-Saving Collaboration

Within moments of arriving at EvergreenHealth, Edwards went into cardiac arrest. Like a well-rehearsed orchestra, emergency department techs sprang into action administering CPR. They maintained a steady rhythm of chest compressions for an astounding 45 minutes.

Simultaneously, nurses administered medications and IV fluids, and drew blood for lab tests. Respiratory therapy quickly assisted in ventilation, as well. Dr. Kevin Hori, the lead emergency medicine physician that night, was able to place a breathing tube while he directed the team’s CPR efforts, and also administered epinephrine and delivered multiple defibrillator shocks to Terry’s heart.

“Our focus was on resuscitating Terry and restoring critical blood and oxygen flow. At the same time, we were running diagnostic tests to determine the cause of his cardiac arrest,” Dr. Hori explained. “Signs were pointing to a life-threatening blood clot, and the team put our combined years of training and experience together to decide on the best course of action to save h is life,” said Dr. Hori.

Tests would later show that Dr. Hori’s instincts were right— Edwards had developed a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot in his lung that triggered the cardiac arrest. Miraculously, the emergency care team was able to stabilize him, thanks to their collaborative efforts and a life-saving dose of the clotbusting drug tPA.

“Because Terry’s case was so complex, physicians, nurses, ED techs and our inpatient pharmacist jumped in to help with resuscitation efforts,” said Dr. Maeve Bowen, an EvergreenHealth hospitalist who also cared for Edwards. “We work well together because we recognize each other’s strengths and combine them to deliver the best patient care. It was a phenomenal display of teamwork.”

Terry, Part Two

Though Edwards had survived both the embolism and sudden cardiac arrest—an incredible odds-defying feat—his wife and his providers shared real concern that his cognitive function could be impaired.

“The first night in the hospital, I asked Dr. Bowen, ‘Will Terry talk again? Will he be the same person when he wakes up?’” Brouelette recalled. “She was very forthcoming with me, walking me through the best-case to worst-case scenarios. It was extremely helpful to be able to have that open conversation about our next steps, and what would ultimately be best for Terry.”

After four days in EvergreenHealth’s Critical Care Unit (CCU), Edwards showed enough improvement to be moved to the Progressive Care Unit (PCU), where Brouelette saw promising signs of his old self. Over the next two weeks, Edwards’ care team—including cardiologists, pulmonologists, hospitalists, pharmacists and others—coordinated all aspects of his care to support his rehabilitation and road to a full recovery.

“Every single provider cared for me as a person, not just another patient on a piece of paper. My team clearly communicated to me what was going on at every step and included Lisa and me in goal-setting and decision-making. I felt completely involved in my care plan,” said Edwards.

Today, Edwards is making strides in his recovery with a new lease on life as “Terry, Part Two,” as he refers to himself.

“Facing death has inspired me to embrace a healthy lifestyle and reminded me how much I value my family and relationships. I’ll never take anything for granted.”