Monday, September 06, 2004

Day two three four...

The next day we found out what was wrong. An opportunistic infection had getting into his bloodstream from his own body. The same bacteria that causes urinary tract infections, Kleibsella. A common bug. The fact was, his immune system was gone. The infection had spread to his lungs. He had pneumonia. And his body could not fight it. There was fight in his mind, no question. He could barely talk, but tried anyway. His blood pressure was so unstable, the doctors put the heart catheter in his leg to his aorta. The choice was gone it had to be done. I sat with him about a half hour. He knew that he may never come out of the operating room. So it was then that we made plans: he wanted cremated, and taken to Charles Island in Long Island Sound to be scattered. There was fear in his eyes, but not panic. It was the fear of the unknown. So I kissed him and they took him back. He lived throughout the procedure.
The family started to gather. His sons were already there, since they lived in Lexington. His brother Billy was there in a few hours after the call. His wife stayed with their mother. John didn't want anyone there, at all. He was angry when they started arriving to see him. Especially his daughter, who had to scramble to get the money to come down. It was in this time that the diplomat in me had to emerge. John's ex wife Helen was there, the mother of two of his sons. There was a shitload of bad blood between her and John's family. I didn't care. I just wanted peace. So I began to juggle to accommodate everyone's wishes.
Later in the second day, after the catheter was inserted, his kidneys started to fail. They asked permission to put him on dialysis. We had agreed that he didn't want on life support. We were assured by the Hemoncologists that he just needed support to get the infection under control. The Pulmonary specialist was telling us he was in grave danger and we had to be prepared. So I went with optimism and said yes to the dialysis. It started and he started to become worse. He started talking to me in crazy sentences. He started to not recognize his sons. Another complication: he was suffering from carbon dioxide psychosis. He simply wasn't getting enough oxygen to survive. The big decision loomed: he needed the respirator. Once again we were told two different things: leukemia specialists told us it was temporary, pulmonary specialist who were in the trenches told me it was getting worse, prepare for it. John left the decision to me, and I made the optimistic decision. I allowed the respirator to be inserted. He would never be able to speak to me again after this. Right before they inserted the tube in his lungs, I was trying to kiss I'm on the forehead. He said ouch. I tried his cheek; he said ouch. So I got exasperated and whispered in his ear if I could kiss his pecker. He smiled and said "maybe later". We both laughed; well I laughed, he wheezed. And I never heard him speak again.
ICU day three loomed, it was Saturday. The family that was going to be there had arrived. John was livid too. He was still conscience, nodding his head and full facial expressions. His mom wanted to come down, and wanted me to ask him if she could. John almost chewed through is throat tube. He did not want her to see him like this. I told her, and she stayed at home. He started having heart trouble. The blood pressure would not stabilize, and his heart was starting to fail. The ICU doctors got me alone with John and asked the toughest question, about resuscitation. He couldn't talk anymore, and was in a lot of pain from the infection, the dialysis, the respirator. I told them what I thought was the right thing; that they should use drugs but not heart compression. When the drugs quit working, that was it. John looked at me and I could tell it was what he wanted.
Now outside the ICU was just as much fun. Family tensions were all there. I was trying to include them in all the decisions. His brother Billy was the strength in this. Billy supported me with every decision. We went out to eat every meal, and they never let me pay. I slept in the waiting room with everyone else waiting for family in ICU.
His family's attitude towards me was disturbing. When John married me, I was a trophy. Now I was Mother Teresa. It made me squirm. I didn't think I had done anything special except take my wedding vows seriously. I loved him; I took care of him. There was no other way to be in my mind. I wasn't doing anything special in my mind. Saturday ended by his heart going into arthymia, and the doctors pumping the drugs trying to stablize him.