Kirsten Is Sick

I’ll continue posting updates here. Check back periodically if you would like to know how she’s doing.

August 19, 2012 @ 2103

I spoke with Kirsten on the telephone. She is going through so much right now. My heart absolutely breaks for her. I wish there was something I could do to make this all go away, but I am powerless.

Our angel, Kate Byrne, brought Kirsten pulled pork and sweet potato fries for dinner. We have experienced an outpouring of love, support, kindness, and generosity from our dear friends that warms my heart and touches my soul (you know what I mean). Thank you.

I spoke with each of the girls and gave them the latest update. They are worried, yet strong. They support each other and me. We are pulling even closer together, which has been incredible.

August 19, 2012 @ 1831

I just got home from the hospital. Things were quiet in 115A since her roommate was discharged. Kirsten disliked her lunch, but hopefully she’s getting the calories she needs to start building body mass. At ~82 pounds, she is very weak and frail.

I haven’t cleaned out my cubicle at Outside Television and I start at Auto Europe tomorrow. Kirsten also has her liver biopsy tomorrow. It’s going to be a crazy day. I hope I can keep it all together.

The girls have been amazing. Skye cleaned up the apartment and finished my laundry. They all play so nicely together and help each other. I’m not at all surprised, because them being awesome is very much normal. I’m extremely proud and thankful, and don’t know how I would be able to cope with all this if I also had to take care of them. Not only do I not have to worry about the girls, they make things much easier for me. They are strong. However, I’m trying to be sensitive to how they’re processing all of this and to be open about Kirsten in ways that doesn’t cause them unnecessary stress.

August 19, 2012 @ 1504

Kirsten got a little nap before the nurse woke her up. While she was sleeping I spoke with the dietician, who was great. Kirsten has been spending ALL her time at home since her diabetes diagnosis trying to calculate carbohydrates, proteins, and fats and prepare menus to meet targets. This is untenable and a big concern of mine. Her dietician helped me understand the requirements and physiology. When Kirsten awoke the dietician returned to discuss my concerns. She helped Kirsten work through ordering a meal and simplifying her nutrition requirements. Kirsten has the opposite problem from most: she prefers small portions of healthy foods and lacks cravings for junk food. It’s a challenge to get in her the number of calories required to put on fat and muscle.

Her meal has been ordered. She looks great. Her roommate has been released, which will allow Kirsten to get much-needed rest.

August 19, 2012 @ 1215

The CT scan she had last night revealed a couple lesions on Kirsten’s liver that may be secreting hormones that are causing her problems. Her team of doctors still have to read the MRI from two days ago. The preliminary review of the MRI shows a slight decrease in the size of her pituitary tumor. A growing tumor would be the worst news (they can’t do surgery or radiation), but that it isn’t growing means the current problems are most likely being caused somewhere else in the body. There aren’t a lot of answers right now.

Kate Byrne visited this morning and brought me a large dirty chai from Bard Coffee. We talked and laughed. It was very nice having her here.

Kirsten is tired, but in good spirits. She looks great, but at 82 pounds is very tiny. They had to order her hospital clothes from the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital.


In 2004 Kirsten was diagnosed with a benign pituitary tumor, which was removed surgically through her nose. What remained grew and was removed. It grew again and was removed via craniotomy surgery, followed by radiation therapy in 2010.

A few weeks ago Kirsten started dropping weight, becoming weak, and experienced reduced cognitive function and became occasionally confused. A month or so ago she was at work and became disoriented and was sent to the emergency room. She had dangerously low potassium. After a while she was released. Then she slipped on a stool and cut her shin. When the wound wouldn’t heal, she visited her primary care physician, who was alarmed. After consults and tests she was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes. This has been disruptive.

Kirsten spends all her time trying to count carbs and prepare meals according to her dietitian’s recommendations. She continues to drop weight: a few pounds between each doctor visit. Then, on Friday, she missed an appointment with her endocrinologist who specializes in diabetes, which is very out of character. When I talked to her she told me she became scared while driving due to overwhelming confusion regarding her surroundings. She spoke with her doctor on the phone, who called an ambulance.

Friday also happened to be my last day working for Outside Television. My friend and co-worker, Jeff, took me to a nice lunch at Sebago Brewing, a short walk from our office. When I returned to the office I had several rather frantic voicemails from nurses, physicians assistants, and doctors. I soon learned that Kirsten had been transferred to the wrong hospital and began working to get her transferred. She got another ambulance ride from Biddeford to Maine Medical Center in Portland.

I met her in the Emergency Room. They rolled her for x-rays and then an MRI.

Support from friends and family have been heart-warming. Kate Byrne has visited the past two days, each time bringing me a large dirty chai from Bard Coffee. She has been a champ. My friend Rebecca went to the movie with me and laughed the whole time, which was truly priceless. Many of you have expressed concern and offered help. We appreciate that very much.

If prayer is something you do to feel comforted, do it, but please don’t tell us about it. Tell us you’re thinking of us and wish us the best. We appreciate the tight hugs, dry shoulders, telephone conversations, tweets, visits, words of kindness, and lattes. Keep those coming.

19 Replies to “Kirsten Is Sick”

  1. Kris Lethin says: Reply

    Sending love and affection. Also grieving for the uncertainty and fear; I can’t imagine the stress.

    1. Thanks, buddy. 🙂

  2. Angela Rand says: Reply

    Would love to stop by tomorrow if that’s ok….what room is she in and best time to visit?

    1. Kirsten would love that. R1, 115A. As you know, naps and tests are frequent. Most times are good. I’m starting my new job tomorrow, so I don’t know how much I’ll be here.

  3. Bernard family says: Reply

    Brent, Kirsten, and family. You’re all in our thoughts. We hope you find swift answers, and a path to normalcy.

    Don’t worry I won’t pray to the spaghetti monster for you. 🙂

    Dan and family.

    1. Prayers to the Flying Spaghetti Monster are okay, obviously. 🙂 Actually, that people pray doesn’t bother me (much). It’s that some feel a need to make it a point to tell us about it in a pointed, insincere, flippant, or casual way.

      I hope we find answers soon, too. Thank you.

  4. Angela Rand says: Reply

    One time I prayed to the porcelain god….just saying… 😉

    1. Hilarious!! 🙂

      Any random activity has equal effectivity for healing. Actually, studies have shown that telling someone you’re praying for them makes things worse, probably because of added emotional stress. I don’t have time to look up the reference, so you’ll have to trust me.

  5. I don’t know what I can offer in the way of help but I do offer my concern and continued hope for a positive outcome. Kirsten is a wonderful person and has shown such strength considering all she has been through. Thank you for sharing her updates with us, Brent. It great that you have the tight-knit, loving and supportive family you and Kirsten created.

    1. We appreciate very much your expressions of concern and positivity. Kirsten is indeed a trooper. She endures this all with a smile and positive attitude.

      Thank you, Beth. The girls have been simply marvelous. They are strong, supportive, patient, and have stepped-up at home to make things work while Kirsten and I have been away or occupied. I know this isn’t easy for them. I try to check-in frequently to find out how they’re feeling and to communicate to them what I can in the most sensitive way I know how. I couldn’t be more proud of my girls.

  6. Brent, I just would like you to know that even though AJ and I haven’t see you in a while, through following your on-line life updates, I have come to care about you and your family. I hope Kirstin’s health improves quickly and that we see you all sometime soon. Hope you enjoy your new job. Take care

    1. I’d love to see you again soon, too, Sue (and AJ). I’m pretty sure I’ll love the new job, it’s just going to be hard to dive in while my mind is at home and Maine Med.

  7. kathy longacre says: Reply

    Oh I am so sad that Kirsten is undergoing so much. My heart goes out to you, Kirsten and the girls. May Kisten be comfortable and find answers soon. Here is to a speedy recovery. I love you all.

    1. Thank you, Mom. We love you, too.

  8. Brent, I’m so sorry to hear of all this! Kirsten is one of the sweetest, gentlest, kindest souls I’ve ever met, truly. It breaks my heart that she’s going through this and I’m thinking of all of you. I wish and hope that answers are coming quickly followed by treatment and healing. If there’s anything I can do or if you need to leave the girls here at some point, we’d love to have them. I do work full time, but Katie’s here all the time and I get home around 4:30pm.

    1. Thank you, Cheryl. Kirsten is all that and more. I’d love to bring the girls. They could use the diversion, and they don’t want to spend all day at the hospital (which probably isn’t good for them, anyways). Thank you so much for your kind words and offer of help. I appreciate it a lot.

      1. Brent, we’d be so glad to have the girls here any time. Skye could just give Katie a call to give her heads up. Your girls are wonderful and so very welcome. I just read the latest about Kirsten. I can’t even fathom the frustration, the alarm, of no answers with such a serious thing like this. The minutes, hours, must feel like days and weeks. I hope some answers came today.

        1. Skye could really use a friend right now. Tomorrow would probably be great for all three of them. Thank you, Cheryl.

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