Monday, May 20, 2019

Friday Night

Things got quiet as everyone left.  Joan was breathing slowly, her right hand the only thing she could move and that was very slight.  I held it, talked to her, cried, prayed, offered myself in her place.  I guess in similar situations all spouses would do that.  We all know God doesn't work that way, those kinds of swaps don't happen.  Does that make it hollow?
I left her side only once for a bathroom break, made sure the nurse was there and got back as quickly as I could.  I walked around the bed, the room, I can't remember order, just a blur of the night.
Everything I could picture that I should apologize for went through my head, everything I ever did or thought I did wrong flashed.
Later in the night my mind played every possible way how this could have been prevented.  What if we had pursued a sleep study to help with her sleeping issues, what if she had lost weight and taken her blood pressure and cholesterol meds religiously, how could I have made her do those things or convinced her they were needed. 
Would she still be here?

Later came the regrets for all the vacations we never took, opting for the rational approach to spending money.  Then the house we had just purchased, we always wanted a rocking chair front porch, it had it, and two rocking chairs.  We always wanted a screened in back porch, it had that too.
A kitchen she liked even if she did want it updated.  A yard we could work together on and manage.
Basement apartment with its own kitchen.  Close enough to her mother to go over every day, close enough to our son to visit as well.

Then the joke we always made came to haunt me.  We got married on Feb 23rd, I started with IBM on March 3rd.  We always kidded that if I lost my job I would lose her, if I lost her I would lose my job.  I had left IBM 22 months earlier.  Yeah it's not like that makes them linked but out of 38+ years, 22 months is nothing, it felt like our joke came to bite us.

Here is where things get out of order as the morning arrived.  I think Joans oldest brother arrived.  Afterwards I think my son arrived.  It may be out of order but that is what I remember.  They convinced me to go lay on the couch for a while.  They also needed to be near her, talk with her, say things to let her know we were there.  Sometime later my daughter arrived, she hates hospitals anyway this wasn't helping things.  She would stroke Joans hair, talk with her.
It was now Saturday mid-morning.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

The Traitor

I asked my children, "You've heard your mother and I talk about a situation like this?"  They both replied, their statements were clearly, mama wouldn't want to be like this, not having a life.  I am sure the words were varied and it was most likely unfair to put them on the spot, but I was about to make a life ending choice for their mother, my wife.  Bear in mind my children are adults, my daughter with her own nearly adult children.  I am sure the comments were as hard for them as it was for me.  Joan and I had discussed this, discussed this, joked about it, talked about various options many times.  It always ended with, if I can't have a productive active life I don't want one.  We would also make comments about the costs of such long term life support when the chances of recovery were slim to none and neither of us wanted money spent that way. 
Never, under any circumstances did I expect to find myself in this position.  I always expected she would be making this decision about me.  Statistically, logically, everything said I would die first.  My plan was to die while traveling on business, accidental death, traveling death, the bonuses to insurances, card payouts, airline death benefits, rental car payouts would have left her more than comfortable no matter how long she lived.  That was the plan.  I guess God had another.

I gave the doctor my decision.  The word burned, it was visible in my mind, it hurt.  Logically I know it was the right decision, emotionally it will never be.  All our planning, all of our discussions still didn't help make it feel right.  Maybe those conversation aided me, I don't know.  Spiritually it still feels right.  I cannot imagine my unresponsive body slowly dying with my soul attached, not being able to move on.  Picture being inside a room with no windows, doors, you want out but you can't leave, not until that last breath and the people who put you here only meant the best for you.  In our desire to keep her, we would have imprisoned her until the machines could not keep her body alive.

Next came phone calls, family and some friends. Joans mother and her baby brother arrived, her younger brother was in Washington state and was getting a plane.  My brother and his wife were packed and in a car heading up from Florida.  I can't remember over the next 39 hours who arrived, when, how long they stayed but many came.  Joans mother was hurt, angry, she sat at Joans side with her rosary.  She commented that she held me responsible because her daughter was perfectly fine when she gave her to me 38+ years ago.  There was nothing to say but "I'm sorry."  Later I heard her stating God had a lot to answer for.

I am not sure what I said, to who, the next couple of hours were a blur.  The hospital staff was amazing.  The nurses main concern was getting Joan settled for the night in a room and on a morphine drip to ensure minimal to no pain.  At some point Val and Cory brought in the grand kids.  I could see how hard this was on them.  I asked them if they wanted to talk to Nana, hold her hand and say their goodbyes she wasn't leaving this hospital, it would be their last chance to see her and talk to her.  Austin walked over and what I remember is he commented through tears that Nana would never know his children or they her.  After a while Joan's mom had to go home so Scott and she left for the night.  I told my kids they might want to go home get sleep because it was going to be a long weekend.  They were concerned about me being alone with Joan, but that is what I wanted.  Friday night was going to be my night to make as much peace as I could with her.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

The next hour.

It took forever in my racing mind for the ambulance to arrive.  I am sure it wasn't as long as it seemed.  During that time there was nothing we could do but hold Joan and talk to her while she would murmur "it hurts". 
After a few minutes her food started coming up a bit and we were afraid she would choke or not be able to breath so we laid her on her side on the floor.  I hated putting her on the floor but breathing was more important.
In my mind I kept hearing the words stroke, massive, bad.  The ambulance arrived and I rode with her to the hospital.  The driver kept trying to get me to face forward and his prompting only heightened my concern.
As soon as we arrived at the hospital they took Joan off one way and me to a waiting room.  Knew it was going to happen, nothing to do but wait in the room.  Valerie and Brian arrived, the doctor and nurse arrived.
The doctor in a long winded way was trying to explain to me what was going on.  I finally stopped him, again my mind racing so maybe he did better than my mind allowed me to understand.  He explained she had a massive hemorrhage and I had a decision to make.
I asked what decision fearing the worst and he said, "We can take all measure necessary, or let nature take its course."
Pausing, I asked, what do you mean all measures necessary?  He replied, we can put her body on machines and keep it alive.  Yes, I heard, body and it.  Nowhere did I hear in his statement we can put her on life support and keep her alive.  Asking further I said, and what is, nature taking its course?
He said, she will die in the next 2-48 hours.
More panic, more breathing, I asked what happens if we put her on life support?  He replied we can keep her body alive for a long time.  I interrupted him, asked, will she ever wake?  Is she in there?
He replied, "We can keep the body alive for a long time, until the organs begin to fail but I do not believe she will ever regain consciousness."  He continued with something about the size of the hemorrhage.
I looked at Valerie and Brian, I heard every conversation Joan and I had on this topic over the decades in single moment.  I knew where my rational mind was heading and one word screamed in my head, one word I couldn't push away.


Saturday, April 27, 2019

20 Months!! I have been very remiss

Much has happened since my last post.  I won't take the time here to detail things, only summarize until I can get around to making a more complete accounting of things.
The rest of 2017 flew by.  Joan and I continued to decide what kind of house we needed, what price, location and such things.  Having 7 of us to house and a specific school district of course narrows the options.
We finally located the house, directly across the street from the rental we were in.  It cost more than desired, it was bigger than desired, but had all the features checked off so yeah, we bought it.

My real estate career moves about as fast as I will let it, or pay attention to it.  I have no real desire to put 60 hours a week into a job/career and I like working with people one on one so a large volume of clients is not what I want.

We moved into the house May of 18, asked Howard to paint several rooms for us and he painted wonderfully.  Joan and I started tearing the yard out.  When I say tearing the yard out I mean it.  The prior owners kept the yard neat but the over abundance of plants and the size covered most of the house.  Kitchen and dining room windows you could not see out.  11 holly bushes some 15 feet tall and 12 feet across.  Things that should have been bushes were now neatly trimmed jungle 10 feet deep from the house.  A cherry tree that was completely hidden and being choked by weeds. 
Joan would work with me from about 6AM to 10, get cleaned up and go stay with her mother the rest of the day.  We were having a blast!!  We could see the results of our work and we were striving for a common goal.  It didn't hurt that she knew the money we saved on the yard work would go directly to the kitchen upgrades she wanted.  
Neighbors would stop by and say things like, "Wow, we can see the house!, I can walk on the sidewalk again, thank you!, It is so beautiful!, Now we have to work on our yard!"  The compliments kept coming in.

By late June 2018 we had 80% of the ripping out completed.  Things that didn't get ripped out were severely cut back, shortened, thinned.  We were already planning what would go where and how the final product would look.  I felt pleased, content for the first time in a very long time.  Felt like something useful had been accomplished.  We had taken over 47 truckloads of brush out of the yard, stomped them down in the truck, strapped it all in and each load was over full.

Friday June 22nd I had a closing to attend, had sold my good friends the Wackerlys home.  It would be time to start hunting for their next home.  The day was going well, the next stop that afternoon/evening was a big family celebration.  We must have arrived in 4 cars, Joan coming from her mothers, me from the house, Val, Cory, the grandkids, Brian and Kat.  We met at the Mellow Mushroom.  The meal was great as their pizza always is, we were getting ready to leave, Joan stood up, she was on my right, Val on my left looked right past me and said "Mom?" with a confused look. 
I turned in time to see her holding the back of her head saying, "it hurts, it hurts!".  Our eyes met, I saw them lose focus and she started to collapse.  Val and I kept her from falling into the floor, Brian and Kat called 911, Cory took the grandkids out of the building.