NaturalNewsBlogs “The Sister”–How a naturopathic doctor got sucked back in to the western medical system.

On October 16, 2022 my
brother fell 8 feet off his back deck into the outside concrete basement
stairwell. It was dusk and it was 38 degrees and the only witness was
Sheldon—the neighbor’s dog.  Sheldon
barked furiously but his owner thought the coyotes were after him and promptly
brought him inside.

My 77-year-old brother laid
out there at the bottom of the stairwell all night.

When Sheldon came out the
next morning, he once again started barking and staring over toward my
brother’s house. Sheldon’s owner came out to look and saw both rails off the
deck, the glider overturned, flower pots broken on the ground, and keys strewn
in the driveway, but no brother. She finally called his name and heard him
moaning. Upon closer inspection, she saw my brother face down surrounded by
blood at the bottom of the stairwell. She called the paramedics and they
life-flighted him from Harding Stadium in Steubenville, OH to a trauma hospital
in Pittsburgh PA.

I later told him he had the
right idea arriving by helicopter. The streets surrounding the hospital were
all under construction– you had to pay to park in a parking garage, take an
elevator to one entrance and walk to another elevator, then walk what seemed
like a mile through a glass enclosed walkway and take yet another elevator to
ICU where you had to call to gain access. It wasn’t a trip for the faint of
heart and or short of breath.

As my husband and I began the
4 hour road trip to Pittsburgh, one of the ER doctors finally called to give me
the details of my brother’s condition. The connection was terrible and I
couldn’t hear anything he was saying. I asked him to please call me back
because at that point I knew nothing about his injuries or condition. He never
did. At that point I learned the first of many lessons along this long and
thankless journey of patient advocate. No matter what—take the call. Run naked
to your hot spot if you have to. Take the call. Because they never call you
twice and rarely even call you back.

In the days that followed, it
didn’t matter that I am a registered nurse with over 40 years’ experience. It
didn’t matter that I was a certified Medical Legal Consultant. It didn’t matter
that I worked for an Orthopedic surgeon or taught nursing skills at a Community
College. It didn’t matter that I know my brother better than any other human
being, and almost as well as his Creator. 
It didn’t matter that the year prior to this fall I was with him through
his wife’s death, our brother’s death, and two cancer surgeries.

None of that mattered. I was
simply, “The Sister”. Cue the ominous music or theme song from Jaws. Let me
tell you why I was such a threat. I was there every day in the beginning. What
I saw with my own eyes didn’t always match the narrative or the morning rounds.
I didn’t hesitate to question their narrative. The Sister wants what is best
for him. And that is to get him out of that hospital and back to his life. The
least drugs and the best care. Always.

My brother had two skull
fractures, a couple of brain bleeds, a fractured neck at C5-7, swelling on the
brain and was on a ventilator. They said he may have nerve damage and some
hearing loss on his right side since one fracture was so close to his right
eye. He mostly slept that first day, but honestly didn’t look as bad as I
thought he would. That was Sunday—less than 24 hours after his fall.

24 hours later, on Monday, he had surgery to repair the damage to his neck, a C5-C7ACDF. He was in surgery most of the day and under anesthesia for 5 hours. He came back up to ICU around 9 pm. He did well. He always does well.

Day 2 they removed his
cervical collar and inserted a nasogastric tube for feeding. We were told the
skull fractures were stable and no further surgery was needed. His vital signs
were good and his oxygen was 99%. His head was so swollen he could have been
Shrek’s stunt double though. But he was coming out of it.

Day 3 he was taken off the
ventilator. He had a lot of secretions and needed to be suctioned frequently.
He was pretty sleepy most of the day, but he told me, “I want out of here.”  By the end of the week, he was agitated and
trying to pull out all of his tubes. He was restrained. Speech therapy came and
gave him ice chips and he could chew and swallow without choking. They
continued to monitor him for seizure activity but he had none. Physical therapy
sat him on the side of the bed and he was able to hold himself up for a minute
but it looked like he was in a lot of pain.

Every morning the team would
do rounds and they invited and encouraged the family to be involved. I was
welcomed by most doctors except for one who told me to keep quiet so they could
finish rounds and then I could ask questions.

This was the only time you
could actually see the doctor during the day. We were there every morning to
hear the various residents report on my brother’s condition. Sometimes it
didn’t match what I was seeing. I didn’t hesitate to state what I saw. You
can’t unsee things. The Sister becomes a problem when reports don’t match
reality. I asked the night shift before I left every day if I could call and
check on him in the middle of the night. They said of course. So when I called
and they told me my brother was up singing oldies and taking requests (Dean
Martin anyone?) and they loved him—it didn’t match the story that the sleeping
pill Ambien was
working. So when you figure they are asking my brother at every shift change
where he is and who is President, giving him a drug that can cause confusion
and suicidal thoughts especially in the elderly– isn’t helping him regain
mental clarity. But one doctor would discontinue it (The Sister says it isn’t
working (backed up by nightshift staff), and another would reorder it. At times
it seemed like a power struggle; at times it seemed like they didn’t appreciate
me questioning their authority. The nurses were awesome.

Additionally, I tried to explain over and over to each and every nurse that my brother was extremely healthy and active before this fall. At 77, he was still working full time, had cared for his wife with dementia for years at home, worked outside from sun-up to sundown on his lawn, in his garden and flowerbeds. He helped all the neighbors and knew everybody in town. He had two cancer surgeries and never took a pain pill. He was/is the only one in my family who didn’t take the vaxx and trusted me to tell him the truth about how to stay safe. I truly believe his healthy lifestyle is what saved him. How many 77-year-olds could survive a fall and a night in the cold? And that’s why I continue to believe God has a plan for him.

However, first we had to go through Rehab. That’s coming soon in part 2 from “The Sister”   

Thomasina Copenhaver is a naturopathic doctor and registered nurse with over 30 years experience in the healthcare profession. Her passion is writing, researching, and empowering all humans with knowledge of healing at the cellular level; to enable them to make educated and informed choices regarding their health. For more information visit her website: or to buy her book, “Notes from a Naturopath” visit Amazon or Barnes and Noble.


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