Wednesday, December 31, 2014

On May 16, 2012, Kristine Steinour and husband, Bill, welcomed their first child, Liam, into the world. The delivery was not without complications. After an exhausting 12-hour labor, Kris had to undergo an emergency Caesarean section.

Kris spent the next week at home recovering and adjusting to new motherhood. She was grateful she didn’t have much bleeding after surgery. Kris did have some back pain but wasn’t overly concerned. She didn’t know those were warning signs of a very serious event to come. Just a week after giving birth to her beautiful little boy, Kris was fighting for her life.

Kris’s mom had been helping that day. She gasped when she found her daughter lying on the kitchen floor, bleeding heavily. Bill had just stepped outside to mow the grass. Kris’ mother, a former EMT, remained calm but called out urgently for her son-in-law to help. Bill rushed in. A seasoned Army veteran, Bill doesn’t alarm easily. But his tours of duty in Iraq and Korea could not prepare him to see his wife so helpless - her life hanging by a thread.

Kris was bleeding to death. Bill dropped down beside her, checked her vital signs, and immediately called 9-1-1. “It was raining that day,” recalls Kris. “I remember feeling so cold. I felt rain drops hitting my face as they wheeled me to the ambulance.” At Chambersburg Hospital emergency personnel sprang into action. Doctors were able to stop the bleeding but she’d need further tests to determine the cause. In her hospital room, Kris’s bleeding started again.

“I tried to get up and everything just went dark… my hearing, my vision, it all closed in. My blood pressure must have dropped and I fell,” Kris says. She was rushed to surgery, this time to stop the uncontrolled bleeding that threatened her life.

Tests had revealed a blood clot the size of a baseball had formed in her abdomen. Doctors prepared the couple for the worst. They could stop the bleeding but might have to do a hysterectomy to save her life. Their chance of having another child was at risk.

Kris recalls the moments before going under anesthesia. “I’m a spiritual person…I said the Serenity Prayer. I had peace, I knew I was in good hands.”

Kris needed nine blood transfusions and several units of plasma to stabilize her condition but her surgery was successful. She recovered in the Intensive Care Unit for three days before moving to the 2nd floor. She was impressed by the care from all of the staff at Chambersburg Hospital.

“They always asked what they could do to make me and my family comfortable. They really went above and beyond,” Kris said. “I was separated from Liam for four days. The nurses showed me how to pump my breast milk. It really helped me feel connected to my son,” Kris says gratefully.

Kris, a Licensed Professional Counselor, joined Summit Health’s Behavioral Health Services team six months after her ordeal. “I’ve always felt like it’s my calling to help others, now, even more so,” Kris smiles.

“I grappled with why I had lived,” Kris says. “I survived… I’m here for a reason. I found comfort in knowing that my purpose of helping others had not yet been fulfilled in its entirety.” Kris and Bill are deeply grateful for the care they received at Chambersburg Hospital. So much so that they give back charitably through the hospital’s Employee Giving program.

"I’m eternally grateful for the care I received so I can be the wife and mother I was intended to be,” Kris says. “Thank you for saving my life.” The best news, Liam is going to be a big brother. Kris and Bill have another baby on the way.

Congrats Bill, Kris, and Liam! And, thank you for sharing your patient experience. We wish you all the best!

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