Josh. Cali. McKallister. Oakland. Quincy. Camden. Murphy.

Diagnosis was just the start of saving me...

Sunday, June 29, 2014

My Brother in Law, Brandon raced to the church where Dad was having a meeting. It was being held in the chapel, where Brandon's Dad was conducting and had just started the meeting. Everyone saw Brandon come through doors, wearing jeans and a somber look. As my Dad turned and saw him standing in the doorway, he knew he was there for him and it must be bad for Brandon to come get him out of a meeting. In the blink of an eye everything was about to change. As Brandon bent down and instructed my Dad to come with him, they met in the hall only for Dad to hear "It's Cali. She's not breathing and they are flying her to the hospital".

Mom was on her way back from dropping Alex (my Brother) and their food off at my Grandma's house (they just live 3 houses away) and met my Dad in a hug. They still hadn't heard from Josh as to where AirMed was taking me so changed their clothes and waited in anticipation until the phone finally rang.

I was stable the entire ride to the hospital; still intubated, sedated, oxygenated, and ventilated but they noticed the hardness of my belly had turned into rapid growth. One hour and five minutes from Josh's initial 911 call, they could not have arrived at the hospital with more perfect timing. My parents, Taylor and Brandon had arrived 20 minutes before I did, and watched as my helicopter landed and I was wheeled to the Emergency Department. My girls could hear my Mom yelling for me, to know that she was there and told me that I was not alone and to not worry.

This is actually a picture of MY helicopter landing from my Mom's cell phone as they watched me arrive.
As I was making my way to the trauma room (picture from a later visit to the ER) the head nurse rounded up the staff that would be working on me. One recalled to me later that he would get excited for trauma's. They helped pass the time, he was able to really help people and the high from his adrenaline was something he lived for. As he started to show his excitement the head nurse turned to him and said, "You won't like this one, it's a 24 year old pregnant Mom, who is not going to make it."
I defied them all that day but not before my world came crashing down...
I had started to steadily lose blood. Josh had arrived at the hospital by now, along with his family and the rest of mine. They just waited in the waiting room with a social worker, who updated them as frequently as he had information. Doctors would come in with questions; How is her health, what medications is she on, how was her health as a child, is there a family history of ___? Does she have a history of seizers because they are pretty sure there was one in the ER, and Josh thinks I had one while he was working on me. They would come and go, sometimes looking more confused than before and preparing my family for the worst- IF she lives, she might be a vegetable...
Eventually they moved my family to the Medical ICU floor, where a conference room was reserved for them to be in. I can't even begin to imagine this time... waiting, anticipating, their minds running wild on them while Dr's eliminated one thing after another. Still not knowing if I was out of the woods.
This picture of my Dad is one of few I have of family members during this time frame and it breaks every piece of my heart. Being a Mom, I can't even imagine knowing your kids are suffering, knowing they are going through hard times physically and emotionally, but most of all- not know if you will ever see them again. I am really close to my family and knowing they were going through anything even slightly unpleasant on my account shatters me.
After hours, they finally allowed Josh to see me. Josh explains it in broken sentences when I ask him... " It isn't what I would consider a good time of my life. Cali, it's not something I want to talk about. Feelings? Scared, sad, anxious- You think of your worst nightmare and tell me words for it." I guess I don't blame him. When I think about it happening to someone I love, I get sick. This was the first time they saw me.
I was in a medically induced coma, I was still intubated (the tube down my throat) to breath for me, although I was only on a small amount of forced air which meant I was trying to breath on my own. The monitors on my head were to measure brain activity as well as check for any seizers.

What they had determined was that my INR was elevated and an Ultrasound showed I had suffered from a Placental Abruption, which led to the Amniotic Fluid Embolism- just as Windi had expected. They needed to do surgery but because of my INR, they continued transfusions throughout the night to normalize it. My family was sent home, they were going to need sleep for the days to come and there was nothing happening that night...

Getting me off the ground...

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Part 1 of my Amniotic Fluid Embolism Journey...

It was such a hot day by the lake that day but the kids were having so much fun swimming and using the paddle boat. My Sister-in-law asked me how I was feeling this week of my pregnancy, and I was so excited to report that I was much better. Obviously still nauseous, not keeping anything down - but the bleeding had stopped. All I was feeling was super grateful that it was over. After losing Mac and having blood clots after Oakland's birth, I was a nervous wreck this whole pregnancy! At least a dozen Ultra-sounds, more appointments with my Dr. and the at home heart beat machine (fetal Doppler) Josh got me attached at my hip. But I was officially half way through the pregnancy! So I smiled at my Sister and told her I was perfect.

*3 days later*

Uh, my body hurts so much. Why do I feel so groggy? Wasn't I just at the Lake? Wait, I know I lost Quincy, the pain in my heart. They did a hysterectomy, the pain on my stomach. How do I know this stuff? My throat hurts too. I open my eyes and see Josh, Dad, Mom, Dr's or nurses all around. What in the world happened...

*2 days earlier with the accounts from family, medical personnel and friends*

My daughter, Oakland, and I had just gotten home from church and were taking our weekly nap together. Josh was the second counselor in our Bishopric for our Church, so had stayed back to fulfill a part of his calling. The Bishop kindly offered to stay and take over for him so he could get home with us, and of course Josh took him up on it! He checked on us, made himself a pizza and then went downstairs to watch TV. When I called him on his phone he giggled to himself, thinking I was going to ask him to come upstairs and grab me something. (Did you know that you can totally get away with that stuff when you are pregnant! :) ) But all he heard was me breathlessly telling him I couldn't breath.

He ran upstairs, calling 911 on his way up. You could hear the panic rising in Josh's voice, but he somehow managed to stay calm long enough to answer the 911 operators questions. What's your name, where do you live... It wasn't until she asked what the problem was that you could hear his voice break. "I don't know".  I'll never forget the pleading and love that was palpable as he said "Cali". Over and over...with no response.  He thought for sure he was losing me and wasn't sure anyone would get there in time to help save me. I was breathing but weirdly. He couldn't find a pulse so the operator instructed him to start CPR. "1...2...3...4....I need help" She assured him someone was on the way but she needed him to stay calm and continue compressions. The worst part is that Oakland was there. In the room. Watching and crying. And all Josh could do was focus on me and the operators reassurance. After what seemed like an eternity, there was commotion in the background. "I'm up here!! We are up here!" The Sheriff was there, someone else to help with the rescue efforts. The Operator hung up hearing "Ok, I'm going to go take care of my little girl".

The Sheriff didn't want Josh to stop compressions and found Oakland in her bedroom. Holding her close and hugging her tight, this man has every ounce of my heart. Some day I will be able to thank him for protecting my most precious gift. When the paramedics got there, Josh was able to take the necessary steps.

First things first, respond to Oakland's persistent nudges, "Dad...Daaad...DAD!" "What Oakland?" "I want some Tootie Frooties". "Oakland, Just a minute". "No Dad, I need them NOW!". Kids are so resilient and I'm grateful for their little minds and the little things that make them happy and keep them occupied when times get tootie frooties.

Second, call a neighbor to take Oakland out of this chaotic scene that she should never have been apart of. Call my parents to tell them that I stopped breathing, they were working on me and he'd call when he had more information. Call his parents to come get Oakland and tell the rest of his family.

While he was doing that, the paramedics had gotten me conscious and on the stretcher. Bishops wife, Amy, had rescued Oakland and Bishop Rowley was there but all Josh and him could do was watch. A neighbor shared his accounts with me later, "I ran up to your house that day out of pure concern for our new friends, because my wife saw the ambulance from our house....When I saw Josh come down the stairs, I knew something was seriously wrong. I asked if you were ok, he said, "I don't know." Bishop Rowley told me what he knew of the situation, and as we talked, I realized how serious it actually was. I knew I was in the way, so I felt I just needed to get out of the way. As I went to leave, they brought you down on the stretcher, so I quickly moved aside. As I watched them work on you, I witnessed what true love really is. Josh rarely took his eyes off of you. The look of concern on his face I will never forget. As you screamed in pain, Josh would call out your name, and assure you that you would be ok."

Captain Kurk (fire chief) was in awe when his fire truck and crew got to the scene. Multiple cop cars, ambulances, neighbors. He knew things were bad by how many had responded and it only got more crowded as the cops had to section off our road in anticipation for the helicopter that was coming. There wouldn't be any room for it though, too many people were crammed on our tiny street.

Back at the hospital, the operators had worked together to assemble an air med team who were airborne only 5 minutes after receiving word.  My crew consisted of a high risk obstetrics nurse, a pediatric flight nurse and the pilot.  Once landed in a nearby field, the fire chief transported my girls directly to my house, through the crowds. Amanda, the pediatric flight nurse recalled, "As we pulled into the subdivision, we could see a knot of EMS providers surrounding Cali's stretcher outside on the lawn and bloodcurdling screams reached us as we exited the vehicle; I looked for law enforcement to help contain what I thought was a distraught family member, but no such person was in evidence. Instead, we saw Cali, a tiny 120 pound women shrieking, kicking out of the spider straps on the backboard and vomiting violently. Those helping her struggled to keep her from hurting herself and my years of emergency nursing and EMS experience made me wonder if we had a substance abuse problem on our hands. Windi's OB instincts, however, immediately put amniotic fluid embolism (AFE) at the top of her list."

We have since joked on Josh's response as Amanda snapped at him "What kind of drugs is she taking". Josh in total innocence replied, "Um... prenatal vitamins and enoxaparin" (blood thinner). Because of my hostility, they immediately decided to intubate, in order to transport me (and my flight crew) to the hospital safely. Josh stood beside Amanda, as she knelt at the head of the stretcher, holding my head in her hands. "Cali. Cali. Look at me, Cali. Calm down, Cali". But I continued to thrash while staring straight through her. Windi completed a rapid OB assessment, Quincy's fetal heart tones were present and good. There was no sign of bleeding but my once cute little belly was very hard, getting harder by the minute, which is a sign of intra-uterine bleeding.
Once I was intubated and sedated, they moved me towards the aircraft and talked to Josh about my history as we went. Josh told them about Mac being stillborn at full term, Oakland our second and my DVT's after having her. He then asked Windi what could be causing this and she mentioned her theory about an AFE, and Josh could hear her grave tone. He asked her if he could ride along and after sizing him up said, "Um you're a little Big!" (Josh is 6'6" and 270 pounds). As the aircraft departed, Josh ran back home to jump in the car. He called our families to tell them I was being flown to the University of Utah hospital and to meet him there. As Josh drove he googled "Amniotic Fluid Embolism" and was convinced he would arrive at the hospital to see that he had already had his last moments with me alive.... To be continued.

Then and now

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I started this blog in hopes of keeping a journal for my family and I. I used to blog frequently when I was expecting Mac, and had started back up again when we learned we were pregnant with our third, Quincy. It sounds so weird but I feel as though that blog was a different time frame of my life. I want to keep that separate as it was meant to be a family blog and I have decided to share more feelings about losing a child, having health problems, almost losing my life, recovering from those struggles, adoption and what I have learned from each of those situations. I hope more than anything that I can help those who are going through similar experiences and answer any questions on how my family or I have held strong.

The posts that come before this are taken from other family members blogs or from my previous blog in hopes of giving some background for those that would like to look through it. But from here on out will be my recollections of my past. The feelings I had, things I may not have shared and how I'm dealing with each of them now. Love you all for reading!
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