Coworkers save Colorado Springs woman’s life when she has seizure at work
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - On an ordinary Wednesday, Michele Yoder went to work, just like she always did.
Little did she know: her coworkers were about to save her life.
On March 1, 2023, Yoder was getting ready to grab lunch for her coworkers.
“I think I said out loud, ‘I think I’m going to have a hot flash,’ and that’s literally the last thing I remember,” she recalled.
And it all went black.
Yoder was having a grand mal seizure, brought on by a brain tumor she never knew she had.
“I can’t even imagine. Had [her coworker] not noticed something was wrong with me, I would have gotten in my car and driven. Like, that’s crazy to me!”
Had she gotten in her car to get lunch just a few minutes earlier, had she been anywhere else, the outcome could have been very different.
But of all places, she works at an urgent care in Colorado Springs -- exactly where she needed to be.
“They went and got the doctor ... he looked at me and said, ‘I think she’s going to have a seizure. And so they put in me in a wheelchair and rolled me to what we call ‘The Quad,’ where there’s a nurse, medic. If you’re going to have a seizure, that’s the perfect place to do it! And our nurse manager walked out. He said, ‘Yeah, she’s going to have a seizure,’” Yoder said.
“I was with a patient,” said Robert Spallone, the nurse manager at Complete Care Colorado Springs. “I heard somebody call my name. I went out and they said, ‘Rob, we need you,’ and I saw the patient in the back of the chair and they were wheeling her. I didn’t even realize it was Michele.”
The pediatric room was empty, so Yoder was wheeled in there.
“I put my stuff down and went into the room. I looked down at the wheelchair, I came alongside of her and I realized it was her. And she was actively seizing: Her eyes were rolling back in her head and her face was distorted, and I knew she was about to go into a full-blown seizure.”
Spallone scooped Yoder up out of the wheelchair to get her on the bed.
“I was literally in his arms, and i just went into a grand mal seizure,” she said.
Because she was where she was, the response was immediate. She was put on oxygen, had an IV in her arm, and a doctor by her side.
“So the guys dropped me onto the bed [laughs] -- I say dropped me! -- lifted me onto the bed, and I guess basically Dr. Colmenares was like, ‘Get an IV in her, you get one poke’ ... It was just, like, craziness. And sure enough, our medic got me in one poke, drew my labs, and so they ran all my labs, got my seizure under control, and that’s when I remember starting to wake up.
“... I could hear Dr. Colmenares talking to me. And he was telling me, ‘Michele, we’re all here, you’re going to be okay.’
“I remember my first thought was, ‘Why am I in the pediatric room?’”
Once she was stable, she was taken to the CT machine down the hall.
“And sure enough, I had a brain tumor in my frontal lobe.”
Yoder would later learn that she’d had that tumor for more than five years.
“So the guys dropped me onto the bed [laughs] -- I say dropped me! -- lifted me onto the bed, and I guess basically Dr. Colmenares was like, ‘Get an IV in her, you get one poke’ ... It was just, like, crazinessAnd sure enough, our medic got me in one poke, drew my labs, and so they ran all my labs, got my seizure under control, and that’s when I remember starting to wake up.having hot flashes, memory loss, not finding my words, they were all the repercussions of that pushing on my brain.”
Yoder tells 11 News reporter Lindsey Grewe that for years, she chalked up those symptoms to menopause.
“I thought I was having hot flashes. They were weirder than everybody else’s, but, you know, nobody’s body’s the same, so you just kind of think, ‘That’s how my body is.’” Not at all. I think had I been more expressive and talked more about what was actually happening during this time, it’s possible [doctors] may have found it [the tumor], but I don’t know.”
With the tumor confirmed, she was immediately transported to Penrose hospital.
“That’s when they were like, ‘Okay, you don’t get to stay here. You have to go. You’re going to be in the hospital for quite some time!’”
She would undergo an eight-hour brain surgery, followed by a nine-day stay in the ICU.
“It was benign, which is fantastic, but the location was the issue. It was tucked up underneath [gestures to head] and it had been pushing up against my brain for five or six years. ... Because it had grown for so long, it had gotten really big, so that’s why it was pushing so much on my brain.”
Surgeons were successful at removing the tumor.
“I went home on my 50th birthday and then spent the last three months recovering. My scar is mostly gone now -- that’s why I have my fancy haircut, and the way they shave it’s crazy -- and I have third nerve palsy, so for a very long time, I looked like this [closes right eye] and my vision is almost back to where it’s supposed to be. Three months healing from a brain tumor. They had told me, ‘Oh, there’s not going to be any pain,’ and I’m like, ‘Well, you obviously have not had one, then, because I had periods where, just horrendous pain -- your whole face.”
But all considered, her recovery is remarkable. Three months later, she’s back at work.
“Honestly, I think the outcome couldn’t have been any better,” Spallone said when asked how critical those early seconds and minutes were for her recovery. “The doctor was there, I was there, we had a tech there, the scan was immediate ... if it had happened at a grocery store or anywhere else, she could have fell, hit her head, and it could have been way worse. I’m just glad it happened just as it did. It was just a godsend.”
“Getting it under control and finding it so quickly is truly what also helped save part of my thinking, as well as my body, just the wear and tear of clenching and the dropping and the things like that,” Yoder said.
“I just thank God for the doctors. Thank God for the medical staff, because truly they knew exactly what to do at the exact right time. And they found [the tumor]! Had they not found it, who knows. The unknown is frightening and I’m just very thankful they were here.”
Below are signs and symptoms of a brain tumor, courtesy of the National Brain Tumor Society. However, Yoder says many of these symptoms, such as headaches, she never experienced. Her advice: If you’re noticing anything out of the ordinary for YOU, even if it seems minor or easy to write off, mention it to a doctor.
- Difficulty thinking, speaking, or finding words
- Changes in personality or behavior
- Weakness, numbness, or loss of movement in one part or one side of the body
- Difficulty with balance or dizziness
- Sensory changes like difficulty hearing, difficulty seeing, or loss of smell
- Memory loss
- Confusion in everyday matters or disorientation
- Unexplained nausea or vomiting
- Fatigue or muscle weakness
Often, people won’t start exhibiting symptoms until the tumor starts to grow.
Now, we know most people don’t work in a medical facility. We asked nurse rob what you can do if someone around you has a seizure, as well as what some signs are that one may be about to occur. He explains below.
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