By Ken Rosenauer, American Red Cross
“A bunch of nurses walking through the neighborhood in Dickinson, Texas, saved my life.”
That was part of a voicemail to the Red Cross government operations desk from a woman who had been helping her mother in an area inundated by the Dickinson Bayou last weekend.
Columbus, Ohio, volunteer Sally Strong was one of two nurses walking through the neighborhood of flooded homes that day. They were looking for people out in their yards so that they could check on any health needs they might have.
Strong says a woman started talking with her and said she wasn’t feeling well. She had drunk more than three gallons of water and used the toilet only once. Moreover, she said her vision was going black. She had thought she was experiencing heat exhaustion
After checking her blood pressure, Strong advised the woman to get to an emergency room. Since the woman’s mother is a nurse, Strong was confident she would get the assistance she needed.
At the hospital, the woman was facing kidney failure and had dangerously low potassium levels. She was admitted to the hospital, where she was treated for two and one-half days.
“It was dumb luck that I didn’t lose a kidney,” she said that her nephrologist told her.
The woman has been advised to continue with weekly ultrasound and blood work to monitor her kidney health.
The nurse retired in May after working the past 14 years as a school nurse. She was unaware of the impact of her health check for this woman.
Strong, who is on her first Red Cross deployment, will be returning return home on Saturday. She takes with her some significant impressions of her two weeks in Texas.
“I am overwhelmed at the people, the communities, the Texas spirit,” she said.