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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.



Marti said...

I just can't believe it. Poor Courtney. I can't imagine what that felt like. I would have been terrified too. I'm so glad she's okay now. She doesn't need any more obstacles like this one when she's been doing so well. I'll be thinking and praying for her as well as all of you, today. I'll also be giving thanks for the tremendous progress Court's made in her rehabilitation. I'm sure she'll pick right up and get back to her therapy and Crotched Mt!

Keep us updated on what is decided about her defibrilator.

Meltron said...

Court and family-
I am so sorry to hear about this horrible incident! I will definitely be praying for Court extra today. I hope you all find a way to enjoy your Thanksgiving anyway, I know you are great at making the best of these situations :)
As for the Metal Maidens caravan, we certainly won't let this stop our visit this weekend! We are psyched to come see Court and expect to find her right back in great condition.
Can't wait to see you all, keep your heads up

Doug/Dad said...

I'm 54 years old... Never ever have I seen a braver, more motivated, and gentle loving human being. I can not begin to imagine the pain and mental anguish Court was feeling last PM.

Tonight, her spirits are soaring once again! She is incredible. We are all inspired by her. She will over come... and we follow in her

Valerie said...

courtney, i've been thinking about you all day and feeling so amazed by how incredibly tough and determined you are! one day this will all just be a crazy'll get through! you're already well on your way. i believe in you, dearest friend. i love you!

all my love to the support crew~i'll be up again next weekend :) ~val

Melissa said...

What a terrible thing to happen after so much progress...but I'm so glad that Court's spirits are up tonight again, I hope she at least gets to enjoy some stuffing...mmmm stuffing.

A few nights ago I dreamt that it was summer, and a bunch of us Maine girls and Courtney and I were out in the sun on a float in a lake , Court had completely recovered and we were all enjoying the summer and the swimming. When I woke up it still felt so I'm taking that as a good sign and a preview of things to come!!

Anonymous said...

Your friends in NJ will continue to keep all of you in prayer.

Here is Psalm 91. This has helped many who know Him personally through difficult times:

1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

2 I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.

4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;

6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.

7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.

8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.

9 Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;

10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.

14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.

15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.

16 With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.

Christopher said...


I'm so sorry to read your defibrillator was malfunctioning, but encouraged by Doug's comment that your spirits are up tonight. And it makes me happy to know the maidens will be reunited soon - I wish I could visit too, you guys could probably use an extra roadie - but rock on just the same. Oh, and in case you think it's as funny as I do: my friends put me in charge of the turkey for our West Coast Thanksgiving. Not surprisingly things didn't exactly go as planned.


Lauren said...

I'm so upset to hear this news but so glad that Courtney is calming down. Is it known if the shocks did any damage to her heart? Please give her a big hug for me. I'll be by next week to give her one myself. I can't believe everything she has had to go through. Good thing she's so strong. Love you Courtney. Stay tough.


Martha Conway-Cole said...

Lauren, According to Doug's report to me everything with Courtney's heart has checked out very well after this experience. So. . no the defib did not damage her heart. It was a very terrifying experience for her and for loved ones witnessing it. A device that is supposed to be protective became a danger and it was very frightening. Courtney never ceases to amaze me in her bravery, her grace, and her resilience. Julie, Doug,Marty and Sean are unfailingly resilient and strong in their advocacy, their intelligence, and loving support of her. Its been a brutal experience for Courtney and I am so impressed and in awe of the emotional fortitude of her parents. I wish Courtney didn't have to be so strong but she sure as hell is! She is getting the love and support she deserves from her family and friends. Thank you everyone! Courtney sure built a lovely community around her. Martha Conway-Cole

Anonymous said...

I've just come home this morning & looked at the blog. Courtney is fighting and overcoming things that most of us could never imagine.....but with her will & lovely spirit, she is going to come through this & hopefully will be able to look back at this as yet another part of her long road to recovery. I'm sure we all question why this had to happen to her & her family, but these things are not for us to know.....
the important thing is to keep praying & hoping for the best possible outcome.
Love, Patricia

Elizabeth said...

Hi Courtney and family! Greetings on this holiday weekend. The traumatic incident Courtney has been through this weekend is disheartening...but she's pulling through, just as we knew she would! I was thinking of you all yesterday, knowing that a piece of my new family was missing at the dinner table. I can't wait to see you all soon. Courtney, you'll be on that horse sooner than you think!
~Liz Haag