When you have an emergency medical issue during a pandemic, it might be easy to ignore your pain and hope it goes away. Dickie Anderson is glad she listened to her body and got the ER care she needed.
Anderson was experiencing urinary retention and extreme pressure in her abdomen – so much that she went to the emergency room at Baptist Medical Center Nassau during the COVID-19 crisis.
“I have lived on Amelia Island for 20 years and I know the hospital and the doctors well, so I knew they would have the right safety measures in place during the pandemic,” Anderson said. “I wasn’t concerned about that.”
What she was concerned about was the urinary retention pain and what it could mean. “I have always been healthy and active,” said Anderson, who is well known on Amelia Island for her weekly column in the Fernandina Beach News-Leader called “From the Porch.”
Unlike Anderson, many people are delaying medical care during COVID-19, concerned that they may contract the virus by being in the hospital.
“I could see that Baptist Nassau was taking extreme precautions,” said Anderson. “Before I was allowed to enter, they took my temperature and asked questions to make sure I didn’t have the virus, and then I was ushered back to a separate area.”
Dr. David Page, Anderson’s primary care physician, met her at the ER and ordered imaging of her lumbar spine to find out what was causing her symptoms, but the results came back inconclusive.
Timothy Lucey, a neurologist with Baptist Nassau, was brought in to help determine what was causing Anderson’s pain, because urinary retention is often caused by damage to the nerve fibers of the spinal cord.
An in-depth MRI and spinal tap revealed that Anderson had acute transverse myelitis, a rare complication of a viral infection (not COVID-19) that causes inflammation in the spinal cord.
“This is an uncommon condition, and usually the cause is unknown,” Dr. Lucey said. “If left untreated, it can be catastrophic.” He gave Anderson intravenous steroids to decrease the swelling and inflammation in her spine.
After the first round of steroids, Anderson’s pain and symptoms started to subside. “I was worried they would find a tumor,” she said. “I was so relieved it could be treated. Dr. Lucey didn’t stop until he figured it out.”
Anderson is feeling good these days, and is back to her regular routines of writing for the local newspaper, walking on the beach and enjoying the beauty of Amelia Island with her husband, Shelly.
Her advice? “Don’t delay medical care, especially in an emergency situation,” she said.
“I am grateful that Baptist Nassau was there for me. Listen to your body and don’t ignore your health.”