Lincolnville fire chief copes with unexpected 'vacation'

Staff writer

A fire chief and emergency medical technician, 55-year-old Lester Kaiser of Lincolnville is accustomed to responding to emergencies. He’s not accustomed to having one of his own.

He woke up early one morning in August with a chill and then developed a fever. His wife, Barb, took his temperature and was concerned.

“He said he didn’t want an ambulance and he didn’t want to go to the hospital,” she said.

But as the morning progressed, he became sicker and sicker. After consulting with their daughter, Brandy, who is a nurse, they contacted physician’s assistant Nita Bittle, who recommended he go directly to the emergency room instead of keeping his scheduled appointment with her at the Lincolnville Clinic. He was being treated for a fungal infection in one foot.

“He was willing to go, which made me know he was really sick,” Barb said.

She asked Brandy to take him because she was busy with children in her day care business.

“I figured they would give him antibiotics and send him home,” she said.

Instead, he was diagnosed with a streptococcal infection in his lower right leg and admitted to the hospital.

“When I went back to see him the next morning, I thought he would be better, but he was worse,” Barb Kaiser said. “That’s when I realized how serious it was.”

“I don’t like to be on the other side of the bed,” Lester Kaiser complained to nurses.

The infection was not related to the fungus problem, which was in the other foot. The leg swelled up and the infection spread to his blood and gave him a bacterial skin infection called cellulitis, resulting in a 4x5-inch blister on the back of his leg. He is still getting weekly treatments for the resulting wound.

In the hospital, Kaiser was put on a regimen of antibiotics and required to keep his leg elevated. He found it painful to stand up on that leg, but he walked the halls twice a day.

After 10 days in the hospital, Kaiser got home Labor Day weekend. He is still on antibiotics and can’t do much. When he does anything physical, it wears him out.

“I get winded really easily,” he said.

After being off work for a month and a half, he is hoping to go back next week. He said he has never been laid up like this before.

“I’m more than ready to go back to work,” he said. “It’s been lousy.”

He said he missed two fire runs out of Lincolnville but has “a good group of people” who did the work.

He spends time on his computer, doing job-related work and pursuing an online business he hopes to start in the next few months.

He has more time than ever to help his wife take care of children, some of whom are his grandchildren. He keeps rambunctious little 2-year-old boys occupied and rocks and feeds babies.

The Kaisers sometimes go camping with friends on weekends, which allows him to get out of the house.

“This has slowed me down a bit,” he said. “It’s been interesting, but I never want to go through something like this again.”

Last modified Sept. 29, 2016