Beth Nguyen says that doctors dismissed her concerns on four separate occasions and failed to diagnose a fatal disease. Now the dying ER nurse is lashing out at doctors who ignored her pleas for treatment on four separate occasions. As the nurse was unknowingly dying from a fatal disease of the spine, doctors were downplaying her symptoms as “stress-related” instead of looking for answers.
The Daily Mail reports that 35-year-old Beth Nguyen worked as an ER nurse in Atlanta, Georgia. As a nurse, she was trained to never ignore patients symptoms. Therefore, when she started exhibiting startling symptoms of her own, she sought medical advice. However, instead of receiving answers, she was told her symptoms were likely stress-related. Beth says it all began with a headache located around her right eye, nausea, and a feeling of dizziness while she was working in the ER. She immediately knew the symptoms could be serious so she requested tests to be performed for diagnosis. She was sent for a blood test and MRI which both came back normal. The doctor said her symptoms were likely from stress and that she should just try her best to reduce stressful activities.
However, the symptoms did not subside and became increasingly worse. She notes that in an interview with Cosmopolitan Magazine that she began experiencing “limited use of her right hand, problems with balance, periods of blindness in her right eye, and vomiting.” Everything came to a head one night as Beth was treating a patient who had suffered a heart attack. As she cared for the man, she began feeling dizzy and almost passed out in the room. The patient noticed the nurse was in distress and screamed for help.
“I remember the patient called out: “My nurse needs help.”‘
Beth was then admitted to the hospital for further testing. A spinal tap was performed, and the results came back as abnormal. The test indicated that Beth was suffering from intracranial hypertension, which means she had pressure built up inside of her skull. This pressure can cause a plethora of problems from headaches to potential blindness and stroke.
The ER doctor treating Beth asked her why she hadn’t sought medical care earlier. Beth explained that she had, but doctors dismissed her symptoms. The ER doctor prescribed meds that were designed to decrease the pressure in her head, and she was told to follow up with a neurologist. However, to Beth’s surprise, her concerns would be brushed off yet again, this time by the neurologist. When she went in for her follow-up, Beth expressed concerns about her symptoms, but the neurologist told her that the meds were working and she shouldn’t be concerned.
That would all change as Beth began to have frightening symptoms including drooping of the right side of her face and legs dragging and slurred speech. She finally made it to a doctor at Johns Hopkins University who took all of her concerns seriously. Beth says the doctor immediately sent her for a barrage of tests and was angry that previous doctors had dismissed her concerning symptoms. The doctor says that the lack of action could have resulted in a stroke.
Beth finally discovered what was causing her symptoms and the diagnosis was grim. The new doctor diagnosed her with syringomyelia, a disease that is fatal if left untreated and is characterized by cysts on the spine that slowly destroy it. The doctor noted that the cysts were present on the first MRI that Beth received, however, the doctor had failed to recognize them.
“I felt betrayed. Having worked as nurse for 15 years and being told that, I was very angry and upset. It was like, how could this happen? But I also felt validated.”
Now Beth is struggling with heart failure and is completely wheelchair bound from increasingly severe symptoms, all of which could have been prevented if doctors would have taken her concerns more seriously. Had the doctors diagnosed her upon receiving her first MRI, the disease may not have been fatal. Now the woman and mother-of-two is dying with no more options for treatment and is using her last days to speak out about the disease. She is working to ensure that misdiagnosis doesn’t happen to other syringomyelia sufferers.
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