Warning Signs


November 15, 1991|By AUGUSTA HARRISON

Day after day I sit and listen to the news or read the news or watch the news. And almost every day there is news about educating people how to take better care of themselves and what signs to look for. We are urged to go to a doctor, do not try to make your own diagnosis, because so many times people make the mistake of treating what turns out to be a serious problem with home remedies. And it sometimes leads to death. We are told to go to a doctor, do not take matters of this sort into your own hands.

But what if you see the warning and you go to the doctor for two days straight with chest discomfort, rapid heartbeat, not feeling good. And each day the doctor says, ''Oh, its only gas, go home, take some Mylanta.'' You are told this even after reporting that the doctor the day before told you the same thing and it has not helped.

On the third day, the same problem was no better and we went to another hospital emergency room only to be told in an instant: Your child is a very sick little girl. Are you just getting her to a doctor?'' After hearing the story about the two previous days, they couldn't believe that the child who is now near death was not diagnosed, but was sent home.

At the second hospital the child was treated and then rushed by ambulance to Johns Hopkins where she was treated in their emergency room. The child was alert at all times talking to the doctors as they tried to slow her heart beat down. She never lost conscious. She was transferred to the pediatric intensive-care unit where the doctors continued to work on her, but it was too late. At 2:15 a.m. Thursday morning, October 15, 1987, my little girl died of a myocardial infarction. A heart attack.

Her name was Latonya T. Hawkins, age 10. We took seriously all the warning signs, but the doctors did not, and therefore the problem was not treated until it was too late.

I am writing this in hope that it will help ease some of the pain I and her twin sister and other family members have felt continually for the last four years. The pain never leaves. Sometimes I feel that if everybody knows what happened, somehow the pain would be a little easier. We will see.

Augusta Harrison writes from Baltimore.

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