Susie Haines is not only one tough cookie, she’s inspiring. She beat breast cancer in 2016, and when it returned last year at 79-years-young, she maintained a positive outlook, which was all the more remarkable considering at nearly the same time, she was also diagnosed with pleural effusion, a buildup of fluid between the layers of tissue that lines the lungs and chest cavity.
To address her pleural effusion, a condition that makes it difficult to breathe, her doctor inserted a PleurX catheter in her back – and that’s when the VNA entered her life. For nearly a year, she’s been receiving VNA Home Health care.
The VNA’s talented home health team always tailors every patient’s plan of care to their specific needs. Some patients only require a few days or weeks of care, while others need long-term care for chronic illnesses. In Susie’s case, draining her excess fluid has been a long, multi-month process that’s ongoing.
Initially, Susie’s VNA clinicians visited her twice a week, but recently it was scaled back to once a week. Every time, they check her vitals, but their main objective is to provide wound care, something that the VNA specializes in. For Susie’s lung issue, this always entails a nurse draining the fluid from her catheter, then cleaning the area where the tubing comes out and bandaging that area up, keeping her safe from infection. And Susie has been doing this in between chemotherapy, which she’s been responding to very well. “My labs are good…and I’m not experiencing any nausea at this point, which is a miracle,” she says. “I have fatigue, but not bad.”
Susie attributes her body’s positive response to having done water aerobics year-round for the past 15 years, keeping her fit and strong. She also credits her overall well-being to her VNA clinicians. “The VNA nurses coming into my home, they’re very professional but friendly, and they do such a great job. I can’t say enough about them,” she says. “And it would have been just nearly impossible to try to go into the doctor’s office, that’s a very painful way to do it. I would have had to go and wait at the doctor’s office, wait to see him. This has been just such a blessing for me.”
Susie is fond of all her VNA caregivers, but she does have one ‘favorite,’ Kristy White, LPN. “All the people I’ve worked with have been just wonderful, but Kristy was someone that, I don’t know, we just bonded; it’s a thing you know. She’s a very sweet lady and she’s been here the majority of the time,” she says.
The feeling is mutual. “Susie Haines is truly a breath of fresh air and a gem. She always has a smile on her face despite her medical tribulations,” says Kristy. “I am so blessed to have taken care of her like she is my own mother or grandmother. She has welcomed me into her home, allowing me to make a difference in her life and forming a bonding relationship all while providing medical care.”
For her upcoming 80th birthday, Susie, undaunted by her health issues, is visiting family in Tennessee. She’s looking forward to the trip, and also to another one that’s in the works: traveling with a group of friends from Vero who she used to work with, destination to be determined. “We all retired about 2010, and we started traveling together, and we’ve done so many wonderful trips, it’s just been fabulous. But anyway, those five ladies are all over me wanting to do things, and now I’m able to do quite a lot!” she says in her upbeat, bubbly voice.