One Trauma Survivor’s Story: Suzanne Ditty

A motorcycle and a herd of deer do not mix, and Suzanne Ditty learned this firsthand on Labor Day of 2017. From her seat on the back of the bike, she saw that although the driver had swerved to miss the herd, they were about to strike a doe that was bringing up the rear. She remembers thinking, “This is really going to hurt.”

The next thing she knew, she was lying in a ditch, unable to get to her feet. Luck was with the pair, as a car came upon the scene with a nurse, who stopped and took charge of the situation. “She held my neck and wouldn’t let me move until EMS arrived,” recalls Suzanne.

Once she arrived at Grove City Medical Center’s emergency department, the trauma team took over, and found she had many broken ribs that had seriously injured her lungs. Nurses in the intensive care unit monitored her condition closely and she received deep breathing therapy hourly to keep her lungs functioning. But, by the next day, her lung function had decreased and she learned she’d need to have a chest tube inserted.

“I cried, thinking I worked so hard all night long, and now I still had to have a tube in my side,” she said. But, her nurse explained the procedure in detail, which eased her anxiety and afterward, she was relieved that she felt no discomfort during the procedure.

For the next three days, Suzanne had chest x-rays to monitor her lungs, and on the third day, she was discharged with the chest tube and a drainage bag in place. “I was a basket case,” she said. “I sell real estate—I knew nothing about caring for this tube and drainage bag.”

When she went home, her father came to stay with her and lend a hand. “You don’t think about all the things you do like bending, lifting and twisting,” she said. She had a scare when the chest tube stopped draining, which sent her back to GCMC’s emergency department where doctors tended to a blood clot.

Once her injured lung had healed and expanded, the pulmonologist removed the chest tube. “That is another story—you don’t really know what to expect,” said Suzanne. Apparently, the removal of the tube was far more uncomfortable than the insertion.

During her recovery, Suzanne focused on moving forward, leaving the crash in her rear view, exercising and eating right, and feeling grateful. “I can’t thank the EMS, GCMC emergency department and ICU enough,” she said. “I know that the level of care they provided saved my life and I recuperated well because of them.”