Yesterday at around 15:00 I was at work, talking to Kirsten on the phone about a recent visit she had with Jenna’s school guidance counselor, when she became panicky and complained of intense pain in her head. She went from carrying on a normal conversation to not being able to talk at all, within the space of a few seconds. I asked if she needed me to call the paramedics, to which she struggled to indicate in the affirmative. I hung up the phone and called 9-1-1. The operator was confused why I was in Portland having an emergency in Saco, but quickly transferred me to the Saco dispatcher, who sent a team to the house.
I left work, and began tracking Kirsten’s movements on my “Find My Friends” iOS app. Then I called the girls to make sure they were okay. Skye said mom had left, but said it as if Kirsten had gone to the store for a gallon of milk. I asked if her car was there. Yes, it was. I had her ask her sister, who reported that a man in a black shirt with a US flag on the sleeve had taken her away. :)
I was a mess. I know how fragile is Kirsten’s health, and I knew how she sounded on the phone. I paced outside the ER, fighting back a flood of tears with every bit of strength I could muster. It was one of the most difficult half-hours of my life. Finally, an ambulance arrived from Saco. I met them where they parked, and was relieved when they opened the door that she was obviously alive. She was, however, it terrible condition. Her neck and chest were very flushed, and she was writhing in pain. Her blood pressure was north of 200, which I’m told is pretty high. The paramedics wheeled her into the Maine Medical Center Emergency Department, where vitals were taken before she was assigned and wheeled to Hall 17, a less-than-private area in the ED hallway prominently marked “17H”.
Dr. Laura Klouda and RN Cheri began immediately to work Kirsten up and assess her symptoms. I answered the questions they rattled off as if I had been studying for this test my entire life. History, medications, symptoms.
Shortly after they had finished, they wheeled her into a more private room in the Emergency Department, where she would remain until very early this morning. She was given nausea medication as well as blood pressure medications and various pain meds. After a while, the pain subsided and Kirsten’s smile returned. The search for a cause continued.
At around 20:20 last night, Kirsten was wheeled off for an MRI. I went to grab a bit to eat in the cafeteria. When Kirsten returned from her MRI, she had just started another episode, and was writhing in pain. I interrupted her doctor and nurse and pleaded with them to help, which they did. Blood pressure was nearly 200. Medications were administered, and we waited for them to take affect, and ease the discomfort. When she was again sleeping, I spoke to Dr. Klouda, who said she was going to be admitted so they could do a workup and try to discover just what it was that is causing these episodes. They just weren’t sure if she would go to a general floor or an oncology unit. I left around midnight, exhausted.
At around 02:00 this morning, Kirsten was transferred to a room on R5. Shortly after arriving, she began another hypertensive crisis episode. Her nurse was less-than-responsive, insisting apparently on completing paperwork than attending to Kirsten’s acute needs. Eventually, Kirsten got the medicines she needed and was able to get some rest.
This morning, after driving Jenna to school, I spoke with Kirsten, who then texted me a list of things to bring to her, and headed out for the hospital. She’s in R5, room 502. She’ll be going out for an x-ray soon to access her back pain, which is different than her normal chronic “my spine is shrinking” pain for which she takes copious amounts of pill narcotics.
A resident internist talked to us, as did a resident endocrinologist. They’re doing a full endocrine workup on her. It could be uncontrolled hypertension, but they’re leaning more towards pheochromocytoma.
She had orders to be transferred to the Maine Medical Center Cancer Institute (aka “Gibson”). Supposedly, it is very nice. She’s excited. Our tour of Maine Med continues; our punch card is nearly full.
As usual, thank you all so much for your concern, words of love and encouragement and sympathy, and offers of help. I can’t think of anything we need right now. We will likely be in the hospital through tomorrow.