|2023-03-22 (Wednesday) - Setback. Back to CCU. Drove in a Husband, drove home a widower with a broken heart.
|It is with sincerest apologies that I might break it this way to people who don't know. Mary and I tried to call many people and relay the message more personally. But writing is my catharsis and outlet. And a lot of people I might not get to, will read this.
- Summary They called me at 4:00am. Melissa was having trouble breathing, was lethargic, and an X-ray showed that she might have a blockage (megacolon), and her white blood cell count was spiking. They were sending her from Rehab back to CCU (Walter 10-22). I drove down and now we wait. Poor girl is back on the vent (what she hates), and a bit of a restart.
The worst day of my life
At 11:52pm the love of my life died. What happened is that her entire colon was blocked up, and it was causing septic shock. They stabilized her but it was too late for anything but removing her colon. I don't care about my wife having a bag, but it's not about me, it's about her (and her wishes). She was "done" weeks ago. She wanted her life back -- and this latest setback robbed her of the last hope. We had done a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) for a reason, and this was it. She fought as long as she could. The choice was make her suffer, and (a) the best case would end up torturing her with a life she couldn't stand (blind, neuropathic pain, her hobbies of running, cooking, dominoes, organizing, or most of the things she loved were gone)... or (b) there was the far more likely path was torturing her poor little body with more trauma before she would still eventually pass due to complications from not being ambilatory. (You can't heal if you can't move, and she wasn't yet mobile, and gutting her was going make it worse). With the help of family, I chose to follow her wishes, let her suffering end, and let my partner of 32 years go back to God.
- If they removed her colon, it's 2-3 weeks recovery for a healthy person. Even then you have rough prognosis, and lots of complications if you can't move around. She wasn't yet close to walking on her own. She had many more weeks of recovery from the stroke/heart attack, and this easily doubled that (if miracles happened). And she was out of miracles.
- To give you the full sense of scale:
- she had DVTs (Clots) in both arms, and one lingering on her heart. If the arm ones threw, it was a pulmonary embolism. If the heart one dislodged, it was a massive stroke.
- she was legally blind, but there was a chance that some vision could come back, and we could use some assistive devices and training to help. But she was distraught about that. I was hoping we could get her past that and a quality of life that satisfied her. But it's not up to me, it's up to her. (She would lose it about not being able to see).
- she had horrible neuropathic pain ("make it stop"), which we weren't sure if it was permanent. Exercise and stretching contracting muscles/tendons can help, but she didn't yet have the strength to do what it took to end it. If ever. And I was terrified as this doesn't go away for some stroke/anoxia victims. A life of her on drugs for pain, was terrifying me for her.
- Now you throw on top her having her colon removed (she was already severely malnourished, and needed that for healing) -- and the recovery/complications. I couldn't keep torturing her just to keep her around. I had great conversations with her Cousin (Julie) who was a Nurse, and we talked through outcomes with the doctors. They got and respected our decision.
- Evem if I could deal with all of those things, it was never up to me, it was up to her. She was on a vent -- but we'd had these conversations before, and put it in writing. My Step-Dad died of sepsis, and it was my Brother and I that had to make the decision for end of life. Now my wife. It seems my purpose in life is to kill the people I love. Though, I take strength in the fact that I was following their wishes, and putting their needs above my own. (There's a black hole in my life).
- The little fighter, fought to the end. We gave her pain meds and let her rest. Still, for 7 hours she survived with her pacemaker turned off, in sepsis, running 40/22 blood pressure, a 46 heart rate, and still getting her Oxygen Saturation into the 90s. She fought her whole life, and beat all the odds, except this one. (We all lose this one in the end). She wasn't supposed to live to see 5 weeks when she was born (most kids with her birth defect died in infancy), and she made it 55 years. They told her to take it easy on her heart, so she became a flight attendant and ran half a dozen half marathons. Telling Melissa "no" was always a dare.
- What if? I'd talked to Mary and pondered, what if Melissa had just died on February 18th, when she went down. Melissa wouldn't have had to deal with all those challenges. But then she wouldn't have gotten to say "hi" and "goodbye" too all her friends that visited. Melissa wouldn't have gotten to prove what a tough little fighter and odds defier she was. Mary wouldn't have gotten to be a Mom to her baby girl for the last month of her life. And I would have had 33 fewer days with her. They weren't all good days, but I cherish every one (and the 11,680 others that we were together).
- Story of us There's a little thing I'd been working (slowly). Some sampling of photos of things we'd done over the years. It's nowhere near complete... but hints at the beautiful zest for life and being that was my wife. One of the greatest gifts we got was EARLY in our marriage (still newlyweds), we had to go through open heart surgery. (Replacing her double-bypass). It gave us perspective on what was really important. I might be a dick, but I was there for her whenever she needed me. She might annoy me, but I was always lucky to have time with her.