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Saturday, December 4, 2010

LIve as though today were your last day on earth

So November was a busy month here in Shoreline. My associates and I were hard at work on a new Version of Ventolin -- a concoction that will help us in our quest to take over the world -- when I received a frantic phone call: "Kris's mother passed out and we called an ambulance!"

Now we all knew Kris's grandma was basically on her death bed, and we had all said our good-byes. So I suppose it was the inner part of my mind that refused to hear what I heard, so I simply converted it in my head to, "My mom passed out!" It was, after all, Kris's aunt who called.

I called Kris. It was her first day back to work. We had a baby at home, and her maternity leave was officially over. It was my first night alone with Monos. So Kris had been working in OB when she received my call.

"Your grandma fell," I said. "They called an ambulance. It didn't make sense, but that's what your aunt Kathy said."

It didn't make sense, especially considering grandma was in a coma and she wanted to die in her home. So why would they call an ambulance for her. "Oh well," we decided. "Perhaps they weren't comfortable with this decision. They are, after all, not medical people."

There was no urgency. That is, until Kris received a phone call from her supervisor. "You need to get down to ER right now. They're bringing in your mother and they're doing CPR on her."

I received a phone call from Kris's co-worker: "You need to find a babysitter and come in right now. It wasn't her grandma, it was her mother they're bringing in."

"Who do I call?" My regular babysitter was my mother in law. My mom was in Florida. Who do I call? A million names did not flow through my muffled mind. I could think of no one. Finally I decided on my neighbor, who so happened to be the preacher's wife.

She came, and I rushed to the ER with my 3 month old baby boy. I took the employee entrance and Kathy met me at the door, "Wow! He's getting big!" She said about my baby. "Yeah." I said. "Kris is in the doctor's room. You can meet her there."

Soon Kris's sister and boyfriend arrived. We learned CPR was given a few moments by another of Kris's aunts (who happened to be a vet), and then she decided she was breathing and had a heart tone and was seizing.

By the time she arrived in the ER she was awake and talking. Yet when they were wheeling her to CT she had another seizure. The doctor rushed to the doctor's room and told us he was going to have to intubate and ship her to another hospital. "It's very serious!"

While families normally aren't allowed to watch, my wife and I walked right into ER room B. I watched my coworker do what was normally my job. I wondered if I was working (I just left work hours earlier) if I could do it to her.

The doctor stuffed the ETT down swiftly, yet not without gagging and not without a reach by Kris's mother. This made us wonder, "Was she still there? Was this her last memory, someone stuffing something against her will down her throat."

EMS policy was no passengers, yet I knew the driver and he agreed to let my wife ride along. My job was to go home, grab Kris's cell phone, and clothes for Monos. I swear it seemed like an hour that I was looking for clothes, yet when I arrived at the big city hospital my wife said she only arrived 20 minutes before me.

We spent the weekend at the big hospital. We got to know it too well. There were periods when our hope rose, and then bad news. Then hope would rise, and then we'd get our hopes up again. To me, that was the worse part about the whole ordeal.

Yet, the neuro surgeon kept saying, on a scale of seriousness from 1 to 10 with 10 being the most serious, this is a 10. "And you shouldn't play the what if game. 50% of people with brain aneurysms don't make it to the hospital. 50% who do don't make it, and 50% who do live have some type of body dysfunction. And even if things would have been done different, it would have improved the odds by 1-2%. So don't play the what if game."

We were told it was too late to tap the head, so in the morning they were going to go in and put a coil in to stop the bleed. Yet why they had to wait for morning was one of the things we are second guessing. Yet as after they took her for the procedure, the doctor rushed to us and said she was no longer responding to neuro checks.

Later that day, after several tests, she was pronounced brain dead. Eight hours later grandma followed. Imagine living to 90 with all your 10 kids, and 8 hours before you go your youngest daughter goes. Not a good day indeed.

The outpouring of support was awesome. Neither of us even had to think about work as we were both automatically given the day off. Kris's coworkers even gave her vacation days to use so she'd get paid for days off. I'm full time so I was able to use bereavement.

I normally don't like to get into my personal life her at the RT Cave, yet I figured an explanation was needed for all the days of no posting, and all the emails that I still have yet to answer. It'll be a while before I get caught up, yet I'm making progress.

What didn't help was when I got back to work it's been completely swamped. Yet in a way that's probably good. The thing we are reminded of through all this is life is short. You should take serious and enjoy every moment. Make wise decisions. Enjoy.

As the quote atop my blog so humbly notes: Live each day as though you were to die tomorrow. Learn as though you were to live forever. An Indian philosopher said that, and he was so right.

Christmas season this year will be to celebrate God and family and the first Christmas of our 4th child. Yet at the same time it will be sad in a way. In the meantime, it's back to the lab.

And join me on facebook.

1 comment:

Pissed Off Patient said...

Oh Wow. What a story. So sorry for your losses.