Kirsten Is Sick – Thursday, August 30, 2012


Kirsten recovers in the PACU
Kirsten got in the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) at 2055. I had arrived to the waiting area prior to that, but wasn’t allowed in until 2155. Kirsten was asleep and looked peaceful (you would be, too, if you were in a narcotic fog). She’ll remain in PACU through the night and into tomorrow before they send her to a floor, probably R3.

Hopefully the liver tumors are not cancerous and the worst of Kirsten’s problems are behind us. Now the long recovery might finally be able to begin.


Dr. MacGillivray just called to the R6 nursing station, where I spoke with him. Surgery went well. Both adrenals were successfully removed, and the liver was biopsied. He said the liver tumor tissue doesn’t look like the ACTH source. This was expected, since they did not present on the octreotide scan. They will further analyze the tumor to determine its type and prognosis.

I haven’t seen Kirsten. I’m going to head down to the recovery room and hope they let me in, even if briefly. Dr. MacGillivray would prefer she be in a place where she can be more closely monitored than up on R6, considering what happened after her last surgery. It could be just in the recovery room. They’re not sure yet.

The rabbit foot worked!


Maine Medical Center and a landing airplane
On the way home I stopped by Burger King for a soft serve ice cream cone, which I ate while watching airplanes at the Portland International Jetport and listening to the tower on LiveATC.

When I got back to the hospital I had a nice long chat with Kirsten’s roommate, Deborah, and her nurse from last night, Allissa. They are both very sweet and concerned about Kirsten. Everybody who meets Kirsten loves her. How could they not? She is so sweet and hard working and compassionate and kind. She never gets angry or gossips. She loves to laugh. She is my best friend, and has been for more than twenty years.

I need for this surgery to be a success.


Limo ride to the operating room
Kirsten was taken to pre-op at 1631 and the operating room at 1738. Soni went down with her while I raced to get Hayley to Saco for her school’s open house. I met her teacher, who seems very nice. I’m glad Hayley will be in the gifted and talented program, and very concerned that overall the academics will be too simple. Oh, well. That’s the price we pay for a social life, eh? :)

Kirsten’s nurse, Marie, was so attentive and sweet today. She gave both me and Kirsten hugs as Kirsten was being wheeled away.

Now I’m going to head back to the hospital to await word from Dr. MacGillivray. And continue reading “The Better Angels of Our Nature” by Steven Pinker. Reading puts me in a good place.

Kris – Now is the time to rub that lucky rabbit’s foot. And do a little dance.


Maggie gives Kirsten a spa treatment
Maggie, Kirsten’s friend and CNA instructor, stopped by to give Kirsten a spa treatment. She gave her a sponge bath, massaged her feet and back, washed and braided her hair, and cleaned her teeth and mouth. I love Maggie very much because she makes Kirsten so happy, and takes such good care of her.

I just spoke with Dr. Dougald C. MacGillivray, who will be performing Kirsten’s bilateral adrenalectomy this afternoon. Surgery should last four hours. He’ll try to do an ultrasound and biopsy of one of the liver lesions at the same time. I’m very glad to finally be to this stage.

After talking to Dr. MacGillivray, Maggie finished up with Kirsten and we had a nice chat. She is an angel. We talked about the morning Kirsten became progressively more delirious in the SCU and went for a CT scan. Maggie held her hand, stayed with her, and made sure people were properly concerned about Kirsten’s deteriorating mental condition.

As I was talking to Maggie, another Maggie, a physical therapist, came in to help Kirsten go for a walk. As we were preparing to sit Kirsten up she had another episode of delirium which lasted approximately five minutes, so we abandoned the exercise plans.

Skye, Jenna, and Hayley and now visiting with Kirsten while I sit and write in the waiting area.


Operating Room after 5pm
Kirsten’s day nurse, Marie, has been excellent. She’s sweet and attentive and really seems to care, which makes a huge difference. Kirsten said she has learned a lot about nursing as a patient, and says that competence and compassion really are the attributes of a good nurse.

Surgery is planned for sometime after 1700 today.


Kirsten was upset this morning when I arrived. Apparently her nurse was less than responsive during the night. Kirsten didn’t get a lot of sleep because of noise and her pain wasn’t adequately controlled. She said the ear plugs she requested never arrived, and after two hours her nurse said she’d order them again. She must have forgotten that Kirsten works here and knows ear plugs take five minutes to arrive from supply. It could have been far worse, but is still frustrating.

They also moved her without supporting her neck. She had to remind them. I’m glad she was sufficiently cogent at the time.

The medical student talked to Kirsten this morning before I arrived. He said surgery would be in 24 to 48 hours, which is not what I was told last night. They shouldn’t let those guys off their leashes (I kid).

The neurologist ordered an electrocardiogram (EKG) yesterday to help determine what is going on with the episodes of delirium. They came in to do it today before I arrived, and put all the leads on her chest and body. I’m not a neurologist or EKG technician, so I assume those leads should be on her head. Oh, well.

Marie, Kirsten’s day nurse, just came in and removed breakfast and told us Kirsten is now on an NPO order and will likely have surgery today. I’m doing a little happy dance in my head. :)

Venti dirty chai for Brent, from Jilly
As I was getting ready to come in this morning I got a text from my friend Jill, who asked me to stop by the Starbucks in Saco where she is the manager. I chatted with her for a bit across the counter, then asked her to make me a drink. Just then Nikki, a cute young barista, handed me the drink Jill had asked her to make when I arrived, unbeknown to me (It was wicked delish!). Nikki and I are friends on Facebook, but have had scant interaction with each other. She told me that her mother asked her how is “Brent’s wife doing?”. It’s touching that a total stranger is interested, and fascinating that social media has such reach. Jill and I had a nice embrace before I left. Hugs from dear friends have been so uplifting these past couple weeks, and provide strength they surely cannot appreciate.

33 Replies to “Kirsten Is Sick – Thursday, August 30, 2012”

  1. Kris Lethin says: Reply

    EKG = electrokardiogramm in english ECG=electrocardiogram; or fancy heart monitor thing. Electrodes to head would be an electroencephlogram or EEG. See Ido have a little science geek in me somewhere.

    1. Aha! Thanks, Kris. Makes perfect sense. Now I’m very curious why they did the ECG.

      1. Kris Lethin says: Reply

        Guessing they suspect any irregular heart activity could be causing blood pressure spikes thus the intermittent dizziness and incoherance symptoms but I’m definately not qualified to have an opinion. Love you guys.

        1. Sounds good. It’s mostly guesses and shots in the dark at is point.

  2. Kris Lethin says: Reply

    The heartbone’s connected to the brainbone… love you guys.

    1. LOL! Love you, too.

  3. Sending wishes for surgery to go smoothly. Great friends can sure make a difference during these times of stress, and I’m glad you and Kirsten have so many! I know the surgery is one of the things that will start her on the road to recovery so like you, I’m hoping it happens today. Tell Kirsten that I admire her strength and tenacity. It must be so frustrating to be having some of the experiences especially since she is a nurse herself. Sending love and virtual hugs to your entire family. You guys are a great team and an example to us all of how to pull together when things get tough!

  4. Allow me to add to the chorus of positive vibes already heading your way.

    1. Feeling the vibes, buddy. Thank you.

  5. Kris Lethin says: Reply

    I’ll do my crazy rabbit rubbing dance after about 2000 if I haven’t heard anything. Keep us posted.

    1. I don’t know which comment is my favoritest – “crazy rabbit rubbing dance” or that “the heartbone is connected to the brainbone”. Well done, sir :)

    2. Please be sure to adhere to the strictest of the ritual’s requirements. We can’t afford any fuckups. :)

  6. dang it, I was going to explain the whole EKG, EEG thing, but due to the time difference, someone beat me too it. :) Hope todays a great day and progress is made. Look forward to hearing all about it tonight when I get off work. :)

    1. Thank you, Lisa. Have a wonderful day. I’ll blog as things develop and I have time. Stay tuned…

  7. Yay for good news! Well, the surgery part (still totally unimpressed to read that they attempted to move her without supporting her neck… again).
    Let’s hope the surgery does indeed take place today. Keeping you all in my thoughts.

    “Hugs from friends have been so uplifting these past couple weeks”
    Well, I haven’t seen you in person for a few weeks, but I hope that counts for cyber hugs as well. Sending a big one with this post :)

    1. Thank you, Kerry. I hope to get a real hug from you very soon. :)

  8. Jodi Clayton says: Reply

    I think I love Maggie too.

    Thinking of you guys.

    1. Jodi I think you have that Uhler sweetness :)

      1. I think you’ve made a few new fans, Maggie. You deserve every one.

  9. Kris Lethin says: Reply

    Ritual in progress. Fur flying. Don’t…. know…. how…. long….. i…. can…. keeep…. this…. up…..

    Love you guys.

    1. Keep going, man… ;)

  10. Rubbing rabbits feet and dancing my best dance for you in Connecticut. We’ve never met, and I’m not sure how I happened upon your blog a few weeks back. I feel a bit guilty to be lurking, but this is probably the most powerful experience I’ve encountered on the interwebs. Your strength is amazing, and your ability to tell the story is just as impressive.

    Thinking of you and your family. Best of luck to Kirsten in her surgery.

    1. Thank you, Todd. That’s very nice.

  11. That’s a promise, Brent. :)

    Thinking of Kirsten as she is in surgery! So glad this is actually happening today!

  12. Jessica Somers says: Reply

    Thinking of all of you right now. Sending positive thoughts and wishes your way.

  13. Kris Lethin says: Reply

    Yeah! Maybe it works 42.5% of the time now! Woop Woop!

    Love you guys.

  14. Have I mentioned lately that I LOVE rabbits? :))) I very much dislike that she had another “episode” but happy that her surgery went well. One thing at a time :) Thanks so much for the awesome updates Brent! Can’t wait to see her beautiful smile tomorrow!!!

    1. Ps…I love you too <3

    2. Yes, one thing at a time. I’m feeling like we’re finally going to start down the road to recovery.

  15. Congrats on the good surgery.

    1. Thanks, mate. I’m pretty stoked about it. You should see all the holes they made.

  16. Very happy to read the newest report. Glad Kirsten is resting comfortably. Here is the beginning to the road to recovery for her ! Love to you all! I’m so happy to see her peacefully resting even if it is due to anasthesia.

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