Thursday, November 22, 2007
Unfortunately our Thanksgiving plans have fallen through, but that's the least of our worries. Courtney had a big scare last night when her implanted defibrillator started to malfunction. We were walking down the hall in Crotched Mountain last night when she jumped with a spiked pain in her chest and yelled "oh God." After two more jerks we rushed her into bed, the nurses and our physician checked her out and Court calmed down after the pain subsided.
We suspected a device malfunction as the reason for the pain in her chest. Her vital signs checked out fine, her heart rate, while raised from the stress, was no where close to going into another arrest. We called in to Medtronic, the defibrillator's manufacturer, and a technician was headed to Greenfield to check on the device.
We thought the worst was over, but it was just the beginning (eye of the storm type stuff). After about an hour, we brought Court to the bathroom and on the way back the pain hit her again. This time is was apparent she was being shocked as she was thumped up and down in bed screaming in pain. The nurses called 911 and paramedics rushed her to the emergency room at nearby Monadnock Hospital.
At Monadnock, the Medtronic tech turned the device off and doctors monitored her heart rhythms. The technician took a reading off the device and in all Courtney was shocked more than 50 times, each shock up to 750 volts, about six times the voltage of a wall outlet. She was scared to death that the defibrillator, a machine that's supposed to help keep her heart in check, is actually hurting her and she has no control.
We stayed at the hospital for hours trying to get to bottom of things, figuring out a plan and also calming down a traumatized Courtney (Doug, Julie, Martha, Marty and I in tow). She was frantic, just waiting for the next shock to come. She yelled to have the defibrillator stopped or taken out of her well after it was deactivated.
A chest X-ray showed that a lead ("leed") wire running down into her heart was out of place. The device was incorrectly reading Courtney's heartbeat at twice the speed it was actually beating. When she reached over 100 beats per minute, the device registered 200 and began shock therapy.
We decided to bring Courtney to the New England Heart Institute at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester for observation. She's in a hospital bed, still fairly miserable, but safe for now. We'll likely be here through the weekend. At least there's free turkey and mashed potatoes, I'm sure she'll be up for some stuffing at dinnertime.
We'll watch over our girl and give thanks that she's pulling through this.