On February 28th, 2017, my mom, Kelley, turned 52 years old. It was a birthday just like any other birthday… except in the next couple weeks, she began to feel like she had actually aged. She grew tired, weak, exhausted. This woman is someone who is always active. She works two jobs without any complaint. She puts in countless hours volunteering for the American Cancer Society and the Alzheimer’s Association. When she came to us, with concerns of extreme fatigue, we knew something was wrong.
In March, Mom was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes. This would require a meeting with a dietician, changing her diet, and taking medication to help her blood sugar levels. This was an adjustment, but there was very little complaining. She tracked her meals and snacks daily, but the fatigue and weakness still did not improve. It was so severe that she had to completely stop working. Mom had no energy and this was frustrating. She just wanted to feel better. She wanted to be herself again.
On April 25th, she was admitted to DECH. Although her blood sugar levels had improved, they knew something was just not right. With scans, Dr. Massaad found an infected abscess on her colon. With this result, Mom was diagnosed with Diverticulitis. She was given antibiotics in the hope that the abscess would decrease in size, but there was no such luck. She was transferred to EMMC where they would need to drain the abscess to rid her body of the infection. When arriving at EMMC, they decided to change the course of treatment that Massaad had instructed. Instead of draining the abscess, they continued to give her antibiotics. They wanted to concentrate more on her potassium level, which had dropped to a 2.3. A normal level for potassium is between 3.5 and 4.5, so a 2.3 was very severe. She stayed at Eastern Maine for a week, stabilizing her levels and making sure the infection from the abscess was minimizing and her potassium was increasing. On May 3rd, Mom was able to return home to Machias, with antibiotics to continue treating the infection and potassium pills to keep her levels stable.
On May 7th, Dad had to take Mom to the emergency room at DECH because of extreme pain. They took new scans, the results concluding her abscess had grown to 5 cm. It was previously at 3 cm. Dr. Massaad immediately met with Mom and was on the phone with a medical team at EMMC to schedule the procedure to finally drain the abscess (he was under the impression that this had already been done). On May 8th, she traveled to Bangor for the procedure. It went well, and she was able to return home to Machias on May 10th with a drain still attached. The drain would not be removed for a week to make sure the cyst was fully drained. At this point, our family thought this was the end. We were happy, thinking she was finally in recovery. But, throughout the next month, we had good days and bad. There were days where Mom had energy, and then days where she had such extreme fatigue and weakness that she could barely walk. Her appetite had decreased and her spirit was diminishing. She was told to stay on the same course of treatment and that it could take awhile to see improvements.
On June 8th, Mom had a follow-up appointment with Dr. Massaad. That day, while Dad was trying to get her to the appointment, her legs gave out and she could not walk. Therefore, he took her immediately to the ER at DECH, where Dr. Massaad shortly met them. Her new scans showed two more abscesses, one on her intestine and the other on her ovary. The infection was critical to her health and body and she was transferred to EMMC in the middle of the night for emergency surgery. The surgeon had to remove her left ovary, fallopian tubes, two feet of her colon and intestines, and a pint of bacteria and pus from the infection. The doctors said she was extremely lucky and if we had waited four to five more days to take her to the emergency room, she would not have survived.
After surgery, she was placed in the ICU on a vent for one day and the next day was transferred to a surgical recovery room. Shortly after her room transfer, she was moved to the CCU because her potassium severely dropped to 1.9. In the CCU, Mom was experiencing unbearable pain and her blood pressure began to drop. Because no amount of medicine was helping her condition, she was taken late at night for new scans. The scans showed a bleed in her stomach. She was then rushed into emergency surgery at 10:38 pm. Dr. Grant, her surgeon, was not sure what he was going to find but he assured us that he would do everything possible to stop this bleed. Panic.. that’s all we could feel. Thankfully, Dr. Grant, our angel, clamped the bleed. If Dr. Grant had not been in the hospital at the time.. if it had taken him five more minutes to get to the surgical floor… my Mom would not be here today. 70% of the blood in her body was in her stomach… 70%. This is a time when you realize how powerful a prayer can be.
From there, Mom stayed for a couple days in the ICU. It’s here where she began sitting up, drinking liquids, and slowly began to become herself again. She is now in a private room on the 3rd floor where she is continuing to show signs of improvement. All of the nurses, doctors, and surgeons assure us that this second surgery, the bleed, was just a bump in the road to her recovery. From here on out, during this long journey to recovery, we want no more bumps in the road.
To all the nurses, doctors, surgeons, and medical staff at EMMC and DECH, you have been our angels. To all of our friends, family, and individuals in our community, we are forever grateful for all of your prayers, love, and continuous support.