No one ever plans on having a life-threatening medical emergency, and it
was certainly the last thing on Chad Meyer’s mind last Christmas
Eve. The healthy, 39-year-old father of two was handling a busy holiday
season as CEO of Soutirage — a wine merchant and collection consultant
— and the founder of Meyer Family Office, a start-up incubator.
“In early December I’d moved a heavy bookshelf,” recalls
Meyer. “I thought I’d pulled a muscle in my left thigh. I
iced and elevated my leg and the pain would go away, but when I returned
to the gym, it hurt even more.” Despite the significant pain, there
was no fever — a symptom that was probably masked by the ibuprofen
Meyer was taking.
When the pain continued to increase, Meyer finally called orthopedic surgeon
Brian Freeto, MD. He wanted to wait until after Christmas to get the problem checked out,
but Dr. Freeto insisted he come in immediately.
“He appeared much more ill than he had made it sound over the phone,”
recalls Dr. Freeto. “His overall appearance and exam findings indicated
that there was a more malignant, systemic process at work.”
With a patient this ill-appearing, it was critical that a diagnosis be
made fast. He sent Meyer to
Queen of the Valley Medical Center’s Emergency Department, where he was given the full range of screening and
imaging diagnostics that would yield the quickest results — including
an X-ray, EKG, ultrasound and CAT scan. The hospital treats thousands
of local residents like Meyer each year in the emergency department, which
is also home to Napa County’s only Level III Trauma Center.
The evaluation revealed a remarkably large abscess in Meyer’s thigh
that was badly infected with staphylococcus and signs of systemic sepsis
— a condition that could have quickly become fatal. After his condition
was stabilized in the ICU, Meyer was wheeled into the operating room on
Christmas morning. Dr. Freeto worked with a skilled surgical team to perform
decompression of the abscess and remove the offending infection.
“With something like sepsis, a patient can deteriorate fairly rapidly,”
Dr. Freeto says. “Chad’s extremely lucky he came in when he
After the surgery, Meyer was moved to the Marjorie Mondavi Center for Intensive
Care, designed to encourage family-assisted patient care that contributes
to the best possible patient outcomes. Under the direction of infectious
disease specialist J. Kenyon Rupnik, MD, he received intravenous antibiotics
and stronger painkillers to address some of the infection’s residual effects.
“In the ED and the first couple days of ICU, I couldn’t have
anticipated this positive outcome,” says Meyer’s wife, Aimee,
who is also co-founder and COO of Soutirage. “I was worried first
that he wouldn’t survive, and then that he would lose the whole
leg. It was an incredibly stressful, difficult time.”
As impressed as she was with the new state-of-the-art ICU, Aimee Meyer
was even more in awe of the Queen’s staff. “It wasn’t
just the medical attention, but their broader support of the whole family,”
she says. “They considered what I needed as the caregiver, even
what our kids needed. They looked me in the eye and said, ‘You can
sleep because we’ll be awake. Get some rest.’”
Fortunately, just a month after his critical event, Meyer is now well on
his way to a full recovery. He is working with an endocrinologist to deal
with his heightened blood sugar and blood pressure, and is making some
elective lifestyle changes in his diet and exercise. He expects to be
back to his normal activity level soon, which includes piloting his own
small aircraft and, of course, enjoying his young family.
“Even on Christmas day, the Queen was significantly better equipped
and staffed than the average regional hospital,” Meyer says. “Proper
diagnosis was key to saving my life — at another hospital, I may
not have received the expert care I so desperately needed.”
For more information about Dr. Freeto, click
here. For more information about Queen of the Valley Medical Center, click
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical
care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.