I know that you wanted some details about Paige, and the event that took her life. We do not know the exact cause of Paige's reaction and the doctor's and I can only speculate. My thoughts are that it is a combination of many things: 1. the flight, 2. a total change of environment with new allergens that she has never experienced, 3. the huge feral cat population where we were in Hawaii Kai, 4. the pool possibly had pesticide and chemical runoff from the golf course that surrounded the house, 5. One doctor thought she had a bronchial spasm that was similar to drowning due to the temperature of the pool.
On Thanksgiving day, Thursday, November 27th, Paige, Hank, Violet and I flew to Oahu to spend the holiday with Hank's cousin Simone Perez, along with her husband Henry, son Nico, and mother Maradee. We arrived around 1 p.m. and Paige was so excited to visit Hawaii for the first time. We got our rental car and drove directly to Simone's house in Hawaii Kai to drop off our luggage and get situated in our rooms before heading over to their friends home for a Thanksgiving meal.
We arrived at Scott and Jen's home (who we just met) for a Thanksgiving dinner. They had many friends, neighbors, and family present and were very welcoming to us. Paige was not able to eat much of what they had prepared due to her extensive food allergies, so she had a big plate of rice and soy sauce. This did not affect her allergies, and she was having a great time. She made friends with one of the girls at the house and they got in the pool/hotub with Violet. Paige seemed okay at first, but then she got out of the water and complained to me that after diving into the water, the nose was stinging really bad. She asked to use her inhaler, which I got for her and after doing a few puffs she said that it didn't work. I told her to wait a moment, to see if it helps and to go towel dry and get dressed. After she did this, she was still wheezy and not breathing clearly so she did a few more puffs. Another guest, who happened to be an EMT was nearby and she got benedryl for Paige, but she was having a hard time taking it. I knew something was not right so I asked our host to call 9-1-1. Paige started to panic because she has never seen me so concerned before and we have never needed to call an ambulance. She looked into my eyes and screamed, and said, "Mom, I'm dying. I know I am because I can see it in your eyes." The ambulance arrived within 7 minutes and they administered a spot of epinephrine and benedryl. I rode in the front seat and we were off to the Kapiolani Children's hospital. It took 27 minutes to get there and at one point I didn't think that Paige survived. The ER doctor was giving the ambulance personnel instructions to care for Paige while in-route, and they were waiting for her outside when we pulled in. Paige was breathing and responsive when we arrived and even complained that the nurse hurt her when she felt a needle. Paige's airways were so tight that they doctor had a hard time putting the breathing tube in, and she suffered cardiac arrest. It took 20+ minutes of CPR before they got Paige's heart started again, and were able to put in the breathing tube. About one hour later, she was ready to go upstairs to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Paige was on life support, and in a coma because of the trauma that her body suffered. The doctors put Paige on a cooling blanket to lower her body temperature to 34 degrees, as studies have indicated that the cold temperatures help to preserve the brain. For the next 72 hours she was kept at that temperature and had a nurse at her bedside at all times.
My mom flew in on Saturday to be with us and between Hank, my mom Marcha, and myself, there was almost always someone by her side. We only got 1-2 hours of sleep per day, if that and we talked to Paige, prayed, played music, read her messages from friends, read her book, massaged her body, and told her how proud we were of her and how much we loved her. Her biological father, Josh flew in on Sunday and spent a couple hours per day with her until Wednesday. He is so full of guilt for neglecting her for years, that he was not able to stay until the end and say goodbye.
Paige had her first MRI on Dec 1st and the results showed that most of the areas of her brain had sustained damage, except for the brain stem which was in good shape, and the portion of the brain that affects the memory. The doctor said that the full extent of the damage would be revealed over the next several months, and as Paige came out of her coma. Hank and I were steadfast in the belief that Paige would heal and whatever affliction was caused by this, we would care for her in any way necessary. My main concern and prayer was that whatever handicap that she had, I wanted her to still be able to express herself, have vision, and be able to create art. Because that is what drove Paige, what made her happy and was her absolute talent. The next day, Paige was not doing well. Her vitals were all over the place, she couldn't maintain a body temperature, her blood pressure was inconsistent, and an EEG showed that her brain waves were not very strong. They did an emergency MRI and the findings were shocking. In 24 hours, the damage to Paige's brain was tremendous. She showed major damage to all parts of the brain, including the brain stem which controls basic functions such as breathing, swallowing, and regulating body temperature. On Dec 3rd, Paige's doctors ran the first series of tests to see if her brain was completely dead. Sadly, Paige didn't respond to any of the tests. They stopped her ventilator to test if she would try to breathe on her own, she didn't. On Dec 4th, the doctors ran her final tests, and she was medically pronounced dead at 9:25 a.m. Hank, Violet, my mom and I were able to say goodbye and spent the next 7 hours with her. We were able to hug, hold and touch her without the tubes, ventilator, and IV lines hooked up.
- Jennifer DiMercurio
- Anne Eychaner
- Hadley Granger
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