Sunday, April 25, 2010

Anguish, Anger and JOY

Moments of Anguish, Moments of Anger, Moments of JOY

My moments of anguish were spent in the hospital watching my husband struggle to survive his devastating-cardio-pulmonary arrest.  Watching his body swell to an unrecognizable shape when it was discovered that when he was intubated on our kitchen floor, a hole was torn in his windpipe and the ventilator he was on was putting oxygen into every tissue of his body.  A stint was put into place to release all the oxygen and the swelling went down.  Moments of anguish when we were told that he would remain in a vegetative state and would never walk again or function again.  Moments of anguish when his liver, kidneys and lungs started to fail.  Moments of anguish when he was moved out of intensive care into isolation because he had developed a staph infection.  We had to wear gloves and masks to visit him.

His body was deteriorating and it was so critical to get him into a rehab hospital, but the hospital wouldn’t take him as long as he had the staph infection.

Moments of anger.  When they told me that the rehab hospital would not take him with the infection, I screamed at GOD in anger and frustration.  My God, My God, where are you.  After my screaming, sobbing fit with God, I went back into my husbands room and the nurses came running in to tell me the ambulance was on its way to take him to the rehab hospital 30 miles away because the last test they had done showed that the infection WAS GONE.    Our doctor dropped everything to come to the hospital to put in his medication tubes so he could be transported to the rehab hospital.  The ambulance came and there was a mad dash to the rehab hospital because they would not accept him that day unless we could get him there by 5:00 PM.  The ambulance left the hospital at 4:00 PM and got him to the rehab hospital in time.  MOMENT OF JOY!  MOMENT OF MIRACLE!

There were many more moments of anguish, anger and joy to come.  Each, I believe, to teach me something about our journey.  As angry as I was at our loving God, I know, without a doubt, that everything was put into place for the journey we were about to take together.

I think I am waiting for the final miracle to take place.  That is for his brain to become whole again and to enable him to know who he is, who I am, where we are and how to do such a simple thing as getting himself a drink of water, or to become continent again.  I know this may never happen, but I never give up hope that it is possible.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Love, Courage and Commitment

This post is not so much about my husband, but rather about a blog I have been following and the impact it has made on me.  It is

Whenever I read her blogs I am so moved that all I can think of is the journey she and her husband took together; the love they shared, and the incredible journey with illness and dying they went through. 

I have been grieving the loss of my husband, as he was,  for so long that this blog has helped me tremendously to put that grief aside and focus on today more than I ever have.  I have been so fortunate to have my husband with me, even though he is unable to function in any way.

I have been told that it is the quality of life that counts.  I agree with that, however, who can say whether my husband’s “quality of life” is not there.  I believe that he is content even though his awareness of surroundings and people is, at times, nonexistent. 

In reading the Widow Lady’s blogs I see such tender, loving care and commitment  that it inspires me on a daily basis to do everything I can to keep my husband content and well.

I have learned over the years that my husband does react to my own emotions, so I have tried to do my own crying out of his sight.  This is hard at times, but it is totally necessary.

I recall when he came home from the hospital and his care was totally in my hands, I decided to take him to the movies.  The choice at that time was “Titanic” which had just come to the theaters.  During the scene of the sinking he turned to me with panic on his face and asked “are we going to be able to get out of here?”  I realized at that moment that his sense of reality had been distorted by his brain damage.  That was the last time we went to the movies.  Now, I make sure he is surrounded with comforting things that make him laugh and that make him feel safe.

The Widow Lady’s journey with her husband has moved me beyond words.  Her words have given me great strength and re-dedication to our own journey through the fog of brain damage. I  know, without a doubt,  that when the time for my husband’s flight comes, he will be ready and he will be at peace.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Our Climb to the Mountaintop

In 1995, two years before my husband's life changing brain injury, we were on a trip to Colorado to see his eldest daughter (we are a blended family).  While there, we bought a beautiful piece of land in a mountain community just north of Fort Collins, Colorado.  It had a breathtaking view of the valley below and the Rocky Mountains beyond.  We were going to build our dream "log cabin" on this property and spend our retirement days watching the deer run through the property and the beautiful valley below.

Our climb to the mountaintop was not to be on that wonderful piece of God's green earth.  Instead, it was going to be a climb that neither of us would have imagined.  We are still making that climb, one step at a time and we have come a long way, together.

At times, I think it is a true blessing that my husband is not aware of what has happened to our lives, and I find myself wondering "if only".  I have to put that aside most of the time because it takes me to a place I don't want to be, and takes my focus off of our "one day at a time" life.

At one time during the first days when he was in a coma and unresponsive, I was told that I should "put him" somewhere where he could be taken care of.  Since he was on a ventilator for quite some time, I was also told that we should "pull the plug".  I will always be so thankful that I did not have to make that decision, his brain was not dead, it was damaged.

The first step in our climb up our mountain was rehabilitation and learning to walk again.  One day, when I went to the hospital and went to his room, I saw that the bed was empty and his wheelchair was sitting outside the room.  I ran to the nurses station and asked "where is my husband".  I have to admit, I was so scared.  She pointed down the hall and there he was, holding onto his physical therapist and WALKING!!  I can't describe how relieved and elated I was to see that.  It was predicted that he would never walk again and that he would probably remain in the vegetative state he was in while in intensive care.  I refused to believe that.  He was just 61 years old and had just retired 6 months before.

This was just the first step up that tall, tall mountain.  There are many to go, but I know we will reach that mountaintop together someday.  That is what keeps me going every day.