Looking back, my story began in June of 2013. I was enrolled in summer school at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and visited five different healthcare providers in three days seeking assistance for swelling in my throat and face, and difficulty breathing. The first four providers diagnosed strep throat. The fifth visit to the emergency room revealed my true diagnosis to be Ludwig’s Angina, a deep neck space tissue infection. After emergency surgery, being placed in a medically induced coma and on life support, my parents were informed that I would have had only 8-10 hours left to live if I had not been in tune with my body and chosen to speak up.
With thankfulness for the North Carolina Children’s Hospital, I strive to raise awareness as a patient advocate through sharing my story. I am engaging patients and their families, educating to improve health literacy, and empowering others to become informed and involved members of their healthcare team.
As a proactive survivor, I have developed my social media platform, “Get In Tune and JUST BREATHE.” Get in Tune, relating the importance of being in tune with your health just as I am in tune with my flute. “Just Breathe” being the directions I was given before surgery as they attempted to secure my airway passage. My mission is to tell people of all ages the importance of patient safety and health literacy.
Through my platform I have been able to create statewide collaboration with the USO of NC, North Carolina Department of Public Health, North Carolina Hospital Association, and more. I have also been selected to serve on a state and national council, The North Carolina Quality Center Patient and Family Advisory Council, and The National Patient Safety Movement Handoff Communications Workgroup.
It is my hope that through my story and my work, I can save lives.