BRITTNEY MELTON / STATESVILLE RECORD & LANDMARK Brittany Faw and Rodney Tomlin downplay their actions in helping Eyvette Isaac

Eyvette Isaac believes that Iredell County’s healthcare system is at the forefront for patient care. Isaac has personal knowledge of the system after she said she had a near-death experience in April.

Since January of this year, Isaac has experienced many changes in her life, but the biggest one is now living with a trach or tracheostomy tube due to having hereditary angioedema (HAE). HAE is a disorder that causing recurrent attacks of severe swelling and, for Isaac, that means attacks to her airways, legs and ankles.

Around the Easter holiday, Isaac’s trach tube fell out. She explains how scary this experience can be because without fast and swift work a patient can die within minutes.

“When your life is on the line, you are going to get emotional,” Isaac said, as she broke into tears recalling what happened.

Before calling 911, Isaac called her daughter Stephanie Paniagua, who is an RN. 911 was actually her third call.

Paniagua, who was in Mooresville when her mom called, knew right away something was wrong; “I could just tell from her tone.”

When Paniagua arrived at her mom’s home, she recalls Isaac just walking around as if nothing was wrong.

Paniagua then worked quickly to assess the situation and fit her mom with a trach that would be suitable until she could get to the hospital to get the care she needed.

“When she walked in she was in nurse mode but when they got here she was in daughter mode,” Isaac said.

“It was an eventful Saturday,” Paniagua said. “It was a very scary afternoon.”

Isaac was then assisted by two Iredell EMS medics that she described as outstanding: Brittany Faw and Rodney Tomlin.

“When we got there the daughter had already honestly taken care of most of the issues when it comes to the trach,” Faw said.

Family is normally taught how to take care of loved ones in case of any emergency issues, Faw said.

The biggest job Tomlin and Faw encountered during this visit was comfort care.

“That is usually 80 percent of your battle with all patients… getting them to understand that you are going to help them and getting them calmed down,” Tomlin said. “If you can get the patients … mental aspect, I would say, under control and get them to calm down then that is 80 percent of your battle right there I would say.”

 “After getting her nerves to calm down, she was a lot better and honestly, from there on out, it was more comfort care than anything…,” said Faw.

 Faw said Isaac was most worried about not being able to go to church on Easter Sunday.

“After talking to her and trying a different comfort tactic ... it came down to maybe me and her just needed to pray together and that seemed to help her … a bunch,” Faw said.

When recalling the eventful day, Isaac remembers the prayers and support most.

“It was great that she (Faw) was able to step out of her role and get personal,” Isaac said. “They don’t let God in many places, but there was so many prayers that day.”

Due to the comfort and support Isaac was given throughout the day, she has been tirelessly working to praise and give Iredell Healthcare the recognition she believes it deserves.

 “[I] couldn’t ask for better, right here in Iredell County…” Isaac said. “They will say that they were just doing their job.”

She’s right.

“It’s hard in this profession for you to praise ourselves. … It’s just not something we do because it’s our job,” Tomlin said.

Isaac has since sent Faw and Tomlin a card expressing her gratitude.

 “That day everything came into place… they saved my life,” Isaac said. 

Though the medics were there to help, they credit a different hero.

“Her daughter is actually the hero… if truth be told she is the real hero because she got the spare stoma and got that put in before we even got there,” Tomlin said. “If there is a real hero in the whole story, it’s her own daughter… we were just doing what we were trained to do.”

A spare stoma is an interchangeable medical term for tracheostomy or trach tube which is used as a new airway.

Isaac’s continued support system throughout that day and since being diagnosed with HAE helped her make it to her Easter Sunday service. It’s one of many goals that Isaac is ready to face and accomplish.

“My ultimate goal is getting back to my work family,” Isaac said, as she also works in the healthcare field. “I am ready to go to work … I am determined.”

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