On June 1, 2019, when Thomas Stites, a 22-year-old La Verne resident, walked
into the shower for the third time, his mother and girlfriend knew something
was terribly wrong. They immediately called 9-1-1, and it was a good thing
they did. Thomas had just suffered three mini strokes.
The paramedics brought Thomas to our Emergency Department, where he was
also diagnosed with diabetic ketoacidosis, a complication where the body
doesn’t produce enough insulin and causes dangerously high levels
of acidic substances to build up in the bloodstream.
This diagnosis came as a shock to his family, as Thomas had never been
diagnosed with diabetes. In fact, Thomas had never had a blood test in
his adult life, nor had he seen a doctor in years.
Thomas was quickly admitted to our cardiovascular intensive care unit (CVICU),
where he spent more than three days in a diabetic coma and received dialysis
treatment for kidney complications related to his diagnosis.
While Thomas doesn’t remember most of his hospital stay, his mother,
Susan Pennington, stayed by his side and recalls every moment.
“My son wouldn’t have made it through the weekend had he not
been brought to PVHMC,” says Susan. “The nurses were amazing
– they were quick, competent, and hyper vigilant. Their teamwork
and collaboration in my son’s care was phenomenal.”
After a total of 11 days in the hospital, Thomas was well enough to go
to a rehabilitation center, and then, finally, home.
He says the best part about being home is that he gets to spend time with
his family, two cats and dog. Thomas recently celebrated his 22nd birthday on June 30. He is working hard to make positive changes to his
lifestyle, including a healthier diet, more exercise, keeping his stress
levels low and visiting his doctor!
Looking back at his ordeal, Thomas says his message to the world is:
“Go see your doctor! An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”