Posted on November 6th, 2014
by Genna Cousineau (Nicole's sister)
Monday January 14, 2013, my sister Nicole Dias went to see her primary care doctor with complaints of excruciating lower back pain to such an extent that she was barely able to walk. Her pain was also in the right buttocks region, and shooting down her legs. With a fear that it could be spine related, her doctor told her to go to the emergency room and have an MRI done right away. She went and was seen. They were too busy for an MRI and told her she would wait all day for one. So they diagnosed her with sciatica and sent her home on pain medications.
Tuesday January 15, 2013, in the late evening, my sister asked me, via text message, to take her back to the ER. She couldn’t walk well and needed the support of a walker. She had been in horrific pain and was vomiting. I made my way to her home to pick her up and she looked horrible. It took quite some time for her to make it into my vehicle. Once in my car, we made our way to the hospital. We arrived and were seen in triage by the doctor on call. My sister was still vomiting at this time. I asked the doctor to do an MRI. Her response to me was, “We can’t just do a MRI. They have to be ordered.” She also stated that, “they are reserved for people who had an appointment or for car crash victims who may come in.” Basically, they were telling my sister that she had to wait her turn, and she wasn’t sick or serious enough to get one. I asked: “Can you do anything else?” The doctor pacified us with an x-ray. I watched my sister in excruciating pain, pricked and prodded with needles, then administering pain med after pain med. She was diagnosed again with sciatica and sent home.
Thursday January 17, 2014, her life could have been saved this day. I arrived at my sister’s house to her crying and screaming hysterically in bed. She couldn’t move. She hadn’t held her daughter in days. She begged to die, to go to our mom, who had passed 10 years before, so she could take care of her. She was in complete agony. She began complaining of chest pain and pain in both legs along with her arms. I called an ambulance. They came and I stood there as they moved her to the gurney from her bed. I will never forget the screams she let out. It was as though a thousand knives were stabbing her all over her body. I went to the hospital and sat with her as she cried and cried. Again, she was injected with more pain meds. She was finally able to have her MRI. My sister began crying on the gurney that was taking her to her test. She said she didn’t think they believed her, that they think she is faking.
Once the test was over and she was back in her room, the doctor on-call stated that there were no changes in her MRI from a previous one she had months back. I asked him, “If everything is the same, then why does she look like that?” He just kept going back to sciatica. I BEGGED him to keep her in the hospital, to watch her and run more tests. He crossed his arms and said, “That’s not my call to make.” Completely drugged up on pain meds and with barely any relief she was discharged again. When we said goodbye at the hospital she looked at me and said, “I love you,” three times. Those were the last words I would hear from her.
Friday January 18, 2013. She went the ER again. She sat in the room in pain, complaining at this point that if she didn’t get relief, she requested that her husband to shoot her in the head. They put her on suicide watch and left her in pain. She began hallucinating, her vital signs were unstable. A nurse coming in during shift change saw that she was in distress and whisked her away to CT. She was in septic shock. Procedures began, panic and confusion set in as she was transported to ICU. She would never wake up. Her organs began to shut down and her heart stopped on January 19, 2013.
The autopsy showed she had a very serious staph infection from an abscess in her right pelvis. Had she been taken seriously, admitted to the hospital, and given IV antibiotics, the septic infection could have been found and treated. Instead, her pain was dismissed as sciatica day after day.
Her loss has been the most painful experience of my life. I watched my little sister die an unnecessary and painful death. It is in her memory that I share her story with as many people as I can, perhaps it will save a life, maybe even your own.