Internet Explorer no longer supports some features of our website. For best results, use Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, Firefox, or Safari.

Faith Oakley

On April 9, 2022, Faith Oakley fell outside and fractured her left ankle. Oakley lives in Boone and she is employed as a nurse practitioner for Wilkes Medical Center. Due to the severity of her injury, she had to drag herself into her house to call her husband. When her husband arrived and tried to help her stand, she became dizzy and passed out for a few seconds. To make the situation more precarious, Oakley was also 16 weeks pregnant.

Due to insurance reasons, she normally uses Wilkes Medical Center for emergency care, but because of her condition, she and her husband decided it would be best to go to Watauga Medical Center’s emergency room. There she met with Anesthesiologist Dr. Daniel Barnette who gave her two nerve blocks instead of sedation because of her pregnancy.

“Dr. Barnette was really cautious with my pregnancy, and he told me he would be working with Dr. Benjamin Parker (App Ortho) for my surgery,” she said. “This made me feel very comfortable with being pregnant and with surgery as well.”

On the morning of surgery, Dr. Barnette discussed the options of general anesthesia or spinal anesthesia, where Oakley would be numb from the waist down. Both she and Dr. Barnette agreed spinal anesthesia would be the safer option for the baby. Dr. Barnette also ordered fetal heart rate checks before and after surgery, which was reassuring to a nervous Oakley.

Because her first child was delivered by C-section with spinal anesthesia, Oakley knew that there were risks involved with that option as well.

“I told the whole team about my previous experience with spinal anesthesia during my c-section—the spinal went too high and I was numb from my shoulders down. I could only wiggle my fingers and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I went into full blown panic attack,” she recalls.

The team reassured Oakley that they would be with her the entire time and she would be fine.

According to Oakley, this is what happened next, “After the spinal anesthesia was administered and they start wheeling me into the operating room, I start not feeling well. I’m sweating and I think I am going to pass out. I tell them this and look over to check my blood pressure (the nurse practitioner in me) and my blood pressure is 81/51 (normal/perfect is 120/80), so I start to freak out because it is so low. Amber Fairbetter, CRNA and Dr. Barnette were right there with me and we discussed options to help me calm down and stabilize my blood pressure.

“I then asked them to turn up the music so I couldn’t hear Dr. Parker and the surgery team.

I also asked Amber if it was okay if I started talking, and let me tell you, I rambled on in a semi-conscience way about my traumatic fall and traumatic childbirth story all while Amber comforted me. She kept me calm and did not leave my side. There were several more times I thought I was going to pass out, but I never did. I just kept talking to Amber.”

Oakley added, “These two people (Dr. Barnette and Fairbetter) helped me so much and I truly believe they are the reason I didn’t have to get general sedation (associated with an increased risk during pregnancy) during surgery. I also had a miscarriage in July of 2021, so you can understand how anxious I was about this surgery. I am so thankful to Watauga Medical Center and all their amazing staff!”

Share this page