Tommy Burns

Tribute

Posted on February 2nd, 2018

Karen, Tommy's sister

Tommy (43 years old) was an amazing father, brother, son and friend. Tommy survived a gunshot to the abdomen from a hunting accident in 2011. He had also had another major abdominal surgery in 2014. This time it was his gallbladder that took him to the ER with severe abdominal pain, he thought it was a heart attack, turns out he passed a gallstone. (Sepsis and Gallstones) He was discharged and scheduled to see a general surgeon, this is when it was decided to remove his gallbladder.

He went in for a scheduled procedure, the surgeon knowing his history of 2 major abdominal surgeries. The surgeon opted to do the surgery with the robot; during the surgery the surgeon changed the surgery to laparoscopic due to dense adhesions. (Sepsis and Surgery) Tommy was kept overnight as he was in pain and his history.

The symptoms were subtle at first. The next day when he should have been up moving and ready to go home as most people would have been at home, he was doing the opposite. Around noon the post op day one it was decided to keep him another day, without any orders, no labs, no scans, nothing. By mid afternoon he again was on oxygen, needed his IV restarted, major changes in his vital signs and was unable to ambulate in the halls. Not only this but he was complaining that he couldn’t breath and was sweating profusely, and his IV needed to be started with an ultrasound machine.

His symptoms worsened by the hour, nothing was done until 11:00pm on post op day one. At this time he was going into shock. They still did not treat him as he was septic. He did not receive the correct care. They worked him up for a pulmonary embolism. He was transferred to the ICU where he became increasingly unstable. His first code blue was around 3:30am (mind you no family had been notified of any of these changes). I got the first call around 3:45am ( I was awake feeding my 2-week-old) “Karen your brother is in the ICU and he was having trouble breathing so we have placed him on a ventilator.” I will never forget those words.

I woke my husband and flew to the hospital to be by his side. Not one medical professional would really say what was going on. Being an RN I was demanding answers, then he coded again…. I was devastated. It was right there in front of me, my big brother was dying right in front of my face and I could do nothing. They robbed me of that when they didn’t call any earlier to let someone know. As I call my family and his son, how do you tell a 13-year-old that your Dad is dying, worst day of my life by far. Finally around 6am when the physicians decided to show up and he had coded 4x, they took him into surgery again, Yes his bowel was perforated. (Sepsis and Perforated Bowel) We basically watched them pump him full of every thing they could and watched him blow up like a balloon for hours and hours all while holding on the a glimmer of a miracle. Watching this was almost impossible, I knew he was gone and everyone else just waited for some good news. He died at midnight on post op day 2, the 6th time he coded, with all of his family and best friends at his side.