Nicole’s Story

Told by Nicole’s Sinnissippi Centers’ Recovery Support Specialist, her story is one of the importance of caring for the whole individual and having close cooperation between the medical and the behavioral healthcare fields.

Nicole first came to Sinnissippi Centers on a referral from her primary care physician. She was experiencing psychotic-like symptoms; hallucinations, racing thoughts, increased anxiety.

Nicole was hospitalized psychiatrically for a period of time at Provena Mercy. Following the hospitalization, she experienced a short period of stability, about a month, before experiencing similar symptoms and returning to the emergency room.

Nicole was not hospitalized at that time, but was still experiencing lingering medical symptoms as we as anxiety and depressive symptoms.

In 2010 Nicole had a severe head trauma. She states that she fell off a bathroom sink while attempting to kill a spider. She went backwards, with nothing to break her fall, and hit the bottom of her head on the toilet. She says that since 2010 she has experienced severe medical issues but was never given proper treatment.

Nicole went to the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic as well as other emergency room facilities in Ohio where she lived at the time.

Nicole says that she was only given the basic MRI, EEG, and EKG testing at these hospitals, and unfortunately was given no real answers. She was told by medical providers her problem was psychiatric, and told by psychiatric providers it was medical.

Nicole had to live with her severe medical issues over a period of years with no real assistance.

There were periods that Nicole had several months of stable symptoms. She even obtained her driver’s license successfully after initially being told by her medical doctor not to drive because of the seizures she was having. But she was given the necessary clearance and subsequently passed her driving test. This was a big accomplishment for Nicole.

As the years went on her medical symptoms increased. She was experiencing random crying spells, head pressure, loss of motor skills, memory issues, and many more symptoms. These episodes would last as little as one day and as long as several days, followed by a relief of symptoms were she could go back to being her happy and outgoing self.

Nicole also saw a neurologist in the area who said her symptoms were too severe. She then started seeing a neuropsychologist in St. Charles and was hopeful.

With the help and advocacy of a Sinnissippi Centers’ Recovery Support Specialist, Nicole was able to attend several appointments in the suburban area. She was then informed that the doctor she was seeing left the practice and gave no referral. Once again, Nicole lost hope that she would be given any real answers. It was a frustrating time.

Nicole started seeing Peggy, Sinnissippi Centers’ Physician Assistant, for medications, because over the course of the past years Nicole had been bounced back and forth from medical to psychiatry, with no real direction.

Following some encouragement from Peggy, Nicole went to see Dr. Demko, a KSB physician. Dr. Demko referred Nicole to a brain and spine specialist in Rockford.

As Nicole’s Recovery Specialist, I was able to attend her appointment with her in Rockford providing much guidance, advocacy and encouragement. She was anxious and hopeful that this time she would be given some answers. After her appointment Nicole had even more hope; she was given a direct action plan by the doctor and a course of treatment.

Nicole also attended two more appointments with the doctor in Rockford where they did a more extensive EEG. The EEG’s done previously were not detailed enough to look for any abnormalities. She continues to have hope for the future.

This is a “success story” of integrated, coordinated care because with the help and advocacy of many Sinnissippi Centers’ and KSB Medical staff, Nicole now has hope and is on the road to recovery. And in addition to her wanting me to tell her story, she also wanted me to put some of this in her own words:

“I was lost until I came to Sinnissippi. I was having terrible symptoms from the head trauma, no doctors were addressing it medically as they should. I was being treated as if it was no big deal, as if it was just something in my head. I came here and I remember the staff welcoming me when I first came and as bad as I was feeling I felt comfortable, like I wasn’t going to be tossed aside. My counselor has been beside me, I have always felt like she was there for me. I remember one day when she was leaving an appointment and I was having a rough day, I said to my counselor ‘I don’t know where to turn, I feel like I have no one’, and my counselor said to me, ‘you have me,’ and gave me a hug. That made me feel so awesome, made me feel cared for, like I was not alone and yes there was somebody at bat for me.

Bobby has been awesome; he truly has a heart for people, he was really interested in what was going on with me because he wanted to learn. It wasn’t as if he was just taking me to my appointment and watch to get there, he really wanted to know what was going on with me. He isn’t just working here to have a job, he truly cares about the people he works with.

Peggy is somebody that the time I met her, I knew immediately that she was not the typical doctor, get in my office and get out. She listened and as she was listening she was making eye contact with me. She knew exactly what was going on with me and in tune with everything. She went above and beyond what she had to do to care for me. She is very caring and I could sense that.”

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