Kayla Morrison

A flight in hope

Kayla Morrison was freaking out, but trying not to show it.

She had woken up in pain and it was getting worse. Her neck was on fire and achy, and to move her shoulders or head made it even worse.

As much as she tried to hide how serious it was, her husband knew better and got her into the car, headed for the local doctor’s clinic in Wellsford.

It wasn’t long before the doctor shared their concerns. With the level of pain she was in, combined with the fact that it was still increasing, the doctor knew to call for help. Fearing it was potentially fatal bacterial meningitis, time was something they didn’t have a lot of.

The ambulance crew arrived, took one look at Kayla and voiced their concerns, she said.

“They said it was much better for me to go in the rescue helicopter as I needed urgent attention, and a bumpy ride to Whangarei in an ambulance would have been too much to bear,” she says.

What felt like moments later, 26-year-old Kayla was being loaded into one of the Northland Rescue Choppers and preparing for a fast flight to Whangarei where urgent treatment and tests awaited her.

On arrival, in the emergency department, the handover was smooth and quick, she says.

“The paramedic on board was amazing – they came to check that I was settled in and ok, as I didn’t have anyone to wait with me. That was really lovely,” she said.

Tests showed the pain was not caused by the potentially-deadly meningitis, and instead her searing nerve pain was diagnosed as occipital neuralgia, an extreme nerve pain that radiates up the neck, to the back of the head and behind the ears.

Six months of treatments followed to find the right one that could help Kayla live with this diagnosis ongoing.

To this day, Kayla is so thankful for her flight to Whangarei Hospital – at the time fearing for what a diagnosis may have been.

“That flight just offered me peace of mind. Had my life been at risk, the speed and efficiency that the service offers would have really helped. As it was, in the pain I was in, a long ride on the road in an ambulance would have been so grueling,” she says.

“It made a world of difference to me as a mum, knowing I was in safe hands and getting treatment as quickly as possible. The same goes for anyone who uses the service – it is there to help.”