Life-saving care delivered with compassion Clayton Akatsuka

“He fell in the shower. He’s hitting the walls. It’s just progressing.”

When Lynn Akatsuka called the Adventist Health Castle Central Medical Clinic, she thought her husband, Clayton, may have just been experiencing the effects of strenuous exercise. But the Adventist Health Castle nurse who answered the phone immediately recognized the potential danger and alerted physician Owen Kaneshiro, MD, who urged them to go to the Adventist Health Castle Emergency Department (ED). “You gotta take him in. NOW.”

Once Lynn and Clayton arrived at the ED, they learned that Dr. Kaneshiro had already updated the staff. Everything moved very quickly, with two nurses preparing Clayton for tests and brain imaging. Soon, a physician came to his room with a laptop and some answers. “He showed us Clayton’s brain and we could see the 2.3-centimeter subdural hematoma [a type of brain bleed],” remembered Lynn. “It’s a big portion of his brain!”

Neurosurgeon William Beringer, DO was called to the case. Dr. Beringer helped ease Clayton’s anxiety; the two joked about Dr. Beringer giving Clayton a “haircut” – good timing, Clayton kidded, because he already had a haircut scheduled the next day. Within only hours of that initial call to his primary care physician’s office, Clayton was being wheeled in for his procedure.

The nursing staff helped create a positive and caring environment, Clayton recalled. “They’re very personable… very attentive.” Some of the nurses had even taken classes with Clayton, a retired professor, when he taught mathematics at Windward Community College. He recalled how his night nurse, Sherane, recognized him as “Professor Akatsuka!” and how the day nurse, also a former student, rushed in, saying, “Sherane told us all Professor Akatsuka’s in here!”

His team of nurses stayed by his side at every moment, meeting his needs (even for extra cups of coffee), and managing his care from the time he arrived at the ED, through his post-surgery recovery. “It was very calming,” Clayton reflected. “They give you a sense of not having to worry or stress too much… It could have been very stressful because so many things are happening so quickly, but the nurses were always there.”

Lynn and Clayton realized they had life-saving care. Following Clayton’s hospital discharge, Dr. Kaneshiro called to check in. Lynn told him, “Dr. Kaneshiro, you saved my husband.” She knew that had Dr. Kaneshiro not been so insistent, they might have delayed going to the ED – and that could have led to a devastating outcome.

After surgery, Clayton’s recovery progressed remarkably well, with repeated check-ups by doctors and a visit from a physical therapist. When assessing Clayton after surgery, Dr. Beringer explained, “They were very lucky they came in that night,” since the combination of lack of balance and increasing subdural pressure could have led to a fall and a stroke. When Clayton was cleared to go home, the nurse gave him his discharge papers and Clayton was surprised to find a bag containing the hair they shaved for the surgery. “They’re so funny. I had to laugh. It made my head hurt, but I had to laugh.”

As part of his wellness program prior to surgery, Clayton’s goal was to play badminton, the sport he’d taken up after retirement, twice a week at the Kaneohe district gym. After surgery, his goals were different: to work on his balance, strength and endurance.

After completing post-surgical physical therapy, Clayton resumed a wellness program and surpassed his former activity level, going from three double matches to five at a time.

To his health care team, Lynn and Clayton expressed enormous gratitude. To his badminton buddies, he said, “Oh yeah. If you have any problems: Dr. Beringer and Castle. They’ll take good care of you!”

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