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Attitude of Gratitude

It was New Year’s Day 2012 when Derryl Benton and his wife, Jackie, went for a leisurely walk. Although the pace was slow, Derryl struggled to keep up.

“Breathing was hard, and I remember I sat down on the trail and asked her to keep going, and I would just wait for her to come back,” says Derryl.

It was out of the ordinary for him to be so tired, but he chalked it up to a recent lack of activity. He’d had rotator cuff surgery in December, and it was the holidays, after all. But later that week, as he was heading to the airport for a business trip, it happened again. He was sweating and his breathing was quicker than normal. Perhaps it was time to call the doctor.

AN URGENT REQUEST

“On this day for some reason I didn’t call my primary care physician, but instead called the cardiologist,” Derryl says.

He reached a receptionist and asked for an appointment later that week, since he was heading to Texas for a meeting. She inquired about his symptoms, and he explained what he had been experiencing the past couple of weeks. With that, she asked him to come to the office immediately. He pushed back a little; the meeting in Texas was important.

“But this young professional kind of insisted, so I did,” he says.

It turned out to be a lifesaving decision. Derryl was examined by physician assistant Scott Giles, who determined that he needed further testing. After a CT (computed tomography) scan, two blood clots were discovered, one in each lung. In other words, Derryl had two pulmonary embolisms, and flying at high altitudes in that condition could have been fatal.

“God was on my side,” says Derryl. “I know everyone gets great care, but on this day it seemed like everyone was expecting me.”

DERRYL’S TREATMENT

A pulmonary embolism is “a clot in the veins that breaks loose and goes into the lungs,” explains Vikas Verma, MD, cardiologist and chairman of the cardiology department at Florida Hospital Altamonte. “It usually comes from the legs and can block the pulmonary arteries and reduce blood flow to the lungs.”

Derryl was first admitted to Florida Hospital Altamonte and treated by Dr. Verma, then transferred to Florida Hospital Orlando for additional treatment. By January 20, his surgeons, Nipun Arora, MD, and Rajesh Shah, MD, both interventional cardiologists, had operated on his lungs and successfully removed the clots.

Thanks to this expert team of clinicians at Florida Hospital, Derryl has fully recovered.

AN UNDER-DIAGNOSED CONDITION

Derryl admits that at the time, he had no idea how serious it was. That’s true for most people with pulmonary embolism, according to Dr. Verma.

A blood clot can happen to anyone, young or old. Often it’s simply a result of a prior surgery, a long plane ride, prolonged sitting, birth control pills, obesity or pregnancy. Sadly, it’s not the first time Derryl’s family had been touched by the condition.

“A couple of years prior, we lost my brother-in-law to a blood clot,” says Derryl. “By the time he fell, he was gone.”

The key is to prevent the blood clots from happening in the first place, says Dr. Verma.

“That’s why we try to mobilize patients as soon as possible after surgery,” says Dr. Verma. “You have to make sure the blood is moving.”

TAKING THANKFUL ACTIONS

Needless to say, Derryl and his family are grateful for the quick thinking and treatment from his physicians, nurses and caregivers. He has chosen to give back in several ways: by serving as a Florida Hospital Ambassador and sharing his management skills through the Florida Hospital Foundation.

Also, he and Jackie support the Florida Hospital Altamonte Eden Spa, a full-service salon, which provides services specifically designed for cancer patients.

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Blood clot 101
Blood clot 101

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