Posts Tagged ‘death’

As a young girl, I share a room with my sister.  I was 15 months younger and relied heavily upon her for my feelings of security and comfort.  It was such a dependency that if she woke in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, I would wake and cry until she returned.

Once I hit college, I began to appreciate time alone.  It wasn’t that I wanted to be alone all the time, it was simply that I began to recognise the simplicity in solitude.

A friend recently commented to me that she thinks there is some correlation with my father’s death, my pregnancy with Bubba Joe and my depression.  My response to her was duh!  (with a bit of eye rolling)

But that got me thinking.

I miss my dad horribly.  I have talked about that.  But what I think fail to realize is that my dad is dead.  Dead and gone.  Long gone and buried.

Now that might sound harsh or cruel, but it’s the truth.

I watched him die.  I held his hand.  I listened to his heart fail (I often listened to my dad’s heart, especially after he had open-heart).  I know in my head that my father is gone.

But in my heart …

and then I got pregnant with Bubba Joe.

While my family as I knew it was falling apart, my family was growing.

I still don’t know how to process it all.  And sometimes, I think it’s okay to not process, but to just keep going.

And when you are pregnant, and then that pregnancy gets complicated quickly, forcing real life and death decisions, there is no time to process in the here and now.  Just like that Sunday evening when I realized it was the last time I would see my dad alive.  There was no time to process what it all meant, or how tomorrow would feel like.  I could only get the doctors and nurses and send BJD to pick up my mom and call my brother to tell him to stop fighting with his wife and get here because dad was dying.

And then my beautiful little boy was born … six weeks early.

My world crashed.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was the beginning of the crash.

Since then, we moved over the great big blue … no, I say we moved but the truth is we ran away.  I ran away from everything in hopes I could leave it all behind.

But it is now catching up with me.

And I feel so damned alone.

Alone not in that good solitude kind of way.  I just feel lonely in that empty, nothing is fulfilling in my life kind of way.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore my family.  Bubba Joe is one of the coolest kids I have ever met.  He’s strong and sensitive, caring and bold, and incredibly creative.  Giant Baby (who just turned 1 btw) is strong-willed and sensitive, observant and curious and intrigued by everything.

And BJD – well, he is the man I have always wanted.  He makes everything in my life worthwhile.

So why is it that I feel so damned lonely?

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The Bridge

After dad died, my family changed.  My sis went her way.  My brother another.  My mom yet another. 

There I stood, trying to keep us together and failing miserably.  All the while, dealing with a complicatd, high-risk pregnancy, subsequent preemie birth and postpartum depression.

I begged BJD to get me out of Ohio. 

I was born and raised there.  I had never ventured too far away.  College was merely 1 hour away by car.  But I needed to escape.

I left my job.  No.  I left my career.  I left everything I had worked so hard for.  I was the only female product manager in my company globally.  I had no automotive background to speak of, other than a love for cars. 

I loved my job. 

I loved my career.

and I’d even go so far as to say that I cherished the people I worked with. 

But I needed out.  I couldn’t deal with well, I couldn’t deal with life anymore.

So we moved overseas to Germany, to the small town where BJD’s parents settled down nearly 15 years ago after they migrated from Russia.

For a long time in my life I was very close to my mom.  We had our ups and downs, but we were always close …  close in a way my siblings were not.   I had a similar relationship with my dad.

After dad died many things were said and done that destroyed me.  Dad’s death killed a large part of me and left a hole that has yet to be filled.  Then mom … she simply had her own way of coping. 

And sadly, it hurt because she wasn’t able to be the mom I needed.  Of course, she couldn’t.  I see that now. 

But I didn’t see it then.  Nor for a long time.

When I was admitted in December at 27 weeks gestation, my mom surprised both BJD and I by booking a ticket to fly in. 

She insisted that she needed to be here.  And she had just had knee replacement surgery.

Now,  I don’t know how many of you have travelled to Germany, but I can reassure you it is not handicapped friendly.  With cobblestone walkways and stairs galore, walking is tough on even the healthiest knees.

After much deliberation, BJD asked her to postpone.

She graciously did.

And now, she’s here, finishing her trip.

We’ve mended the fence.

We’ve bridged over those troubled patches.

We’ve crossed over to the next phase in our relationship.

And I am so thankful to have been given the opportunity to get to know my mom again.  Not as the wife to my dad.  Not as my mom per se.  But to get to know her as the Nana to my children.  To get to know who she really is, when all those layers of the past are peeled away.

Thanks mom.

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Today, 3 years ago

This Sunday, September 25, 2005, was different. You see, dad was back at the Clinic after about a week at the “bad place”. They thought he had C-Diff. Turns out he was dehydrated and I don’t know that we ever knew for sure the test results for C-Diff.

Alex and I went up to visit dad around 7:00 in the evening.

Before going up to the hospital, I actually prepared dinner AND cleaned up the kitchen.

When we arrived, we were told that dad did not sleep the previous night nor all day.

His breathing was somewhat shallow.

Alex and I sat on either side of dad. We spoke in German because I didn’t want to upset dad if I was just overreacting. I asked Alex if he thought dad’s breathing was due to exhaustion. He said yes and I agreed.

Dad was fortunately able to drink (nectar consistency) and kept asking for water. I moved the bed to a 90-degree angle for him to drink and noticed that some water would drip from the left-side of his mouth. That was new. Remember, I had been there every day (minus Labor Day weekend) and was very aware of dad’s condition.

We talked a little bit. I asked him the year. He said 2005. I asked the month, he first said October, then said August.

I asked him his birthday. He said 10/31/1938. I asked him how old he was. He said that was a lot of addition and subtraction.

He asked for more water. I sat him up again and again noticed that a little more was coming out.

I asked to speak with the nurse. They told me that they had just changed shifts and she would be in when she was done reviewing files.

Alex and I spoke again in German. I asked again if he thought it was because dad didn’t sleep. Alex said that he didn’t think so. He thought there was something else going on.

I asked dad how he was feeling. He said his stomach hurt and kept complaining about the back of neck. Alex massaged his neck and his back.

Alex went to the bathroom then came back.

I then went.

The nurse came in and I explained what I was seeing and how it was different from before. But I mostly told her that dad was complaining about his stomach. She took the wrap off his stomach, cleaned the feeding tube incision, placed a clean bandage over his incision (one was not there before) and adjusted his wrap. She was unsure if dad had a BM or how much he had urinated.

She felt around his stomach. He complained when she touched his lower left quadrant.

She said she was calling the doctor.

I left to go to the bathroom. I called Joe to find out if he was coming up. He said yes. I said good. You should be here.

When I came back from the bathroom, the nurse had taken his temperature. He had a slight fever and was beginning to sweat.

His breathing was becoming heavier and irregular.

But he was still able to talk. It was difficult to understand him. Sometimes it was because of how he spoke, but mostly it was because he began to make less and less sense.

I asked dad to tell me what time it was. He said it was 2:00. It was 8:40. He kept pointing to different things saying close the window, open the door. He began making less and less sense.

The doctor came in. We explained the history of dad’s stroke, what was done in the hospital. He asked about dad’s shunt. We said it was done about 2 ½ weeks prior.

He briefly examined dad, listened to his lungs and his heart. He asked dad if he was having any pains. Dad said no. He did not say that he had stomach pains or that the back of his neck hurt.

The doctor asked us to step out into the hallway to speak. He told us he didn’t know dad. He would need to make more tests to determine what was going on. But his first thoughts were that dad had one of two things going on: 1) he had another stroke, or 2) there was a blood clot in dad’s lung. The doctor explained that both of them are lethal. He then inquired about dad’s DNR status. He checked with the nurse exactly about the DNR. He wanted us to understand dad was very critical.

The doctor requested mom’s phone number to call her and let her know what was going on. I asked him if we should bring mom in. He said yes.

So Alex left to bring mom to the Clinic.

I talked to dad. He was becoming less and less coherent. At some point, I had asked dad what was going on. He said he wanted to live.

I explained to dad that in spite of his will to live, the doctor wasn’t sure if his body would make it. At this point, dad’s eyes were fully open, but he was staring off upwards and left. I tried to capture his attention, but couldn’t.

The doctor and nurse came back in, saying they were taking dad down for a CAT-scan, STAT. I asked how long he would be gone. The nurse began saying that since it was STAT it would be pretty fast. The doctor offered me to go down. I was honored. He said I could be with dad up to a point. I watched as the nurse and doctor finagled dad’s bed out of the room, into the hall.

Then they needed his chart.

Then the doctor briefly disappeared.

They tried to figure out who could be the extra one to go down, since the doctor wanted to speak with the technician after that CAT-scan and they would need someone to push the bed. They decided to take the sitter and another nurse said they would stay there until we returned.
I was standing in the hallway, unsure of what to do. I knew Joe was coming, but couldn’t leave my father. I decided that since my #1 priority was dad, Joe would understand. Thankfully, before we began, there was Joe. Walking down the hallway. Joe said that he saw me and then saw the bed. I then motioned for him to hurry up. The doctor said that we could both go.
Joe and I were “patient” (as patient as a Kulcsar is) watching a nurse, a doctor and an aide work their way down to the basement and find the CAT-scan.

They took dad into the room, moved him over and closed the door.

The aide asked if dad was on G-60. We said yes. She sat for him while he was on the regular floor. She didn’t recognize dad because of his weight loss, nor me, but immediately recognized Joe.

They finished the scan and the doctor came out. He explained that there was a lot of damage and he was unable to determine if any of it was new. I assured him that dad had numerous CAT-scans done during the previous 6 weeks and they should be in his file.

We walked with dad back up to his room.

His nurse came in to begin an IV. She found veins, but couldn’t get them to work. At the same time, a male nurse came in to check dad’s blood gas levels. Joe remained at dad’s right side (his good side) and I stepped away from the left side for the blood gas levels to be checked.

The male nurse said dad’s pulse was 53. Tears just fell from my face. I stood there, holding myself. He looked at me and said I should be there next to dad.

He didn’t do a blood gas.

She didn’t start a line.

Someone in the background said something about dad expiring.

The male nurse encouraged us to talk to dad. He said the hearing is the last to go.

We were in shock.

Joe just stood there, holding dad’s right hand.

I was on his left side, holding his left hand.

I began talking to dad about the dogs, about how Nikita and Max both tried playing with Mischka. Joe quickly started talking about his boys. I told dad how proud I am of him. How strong he has been and how much I love him. Joe told dad that he never told dad enough just how much he loves him.

We were watching the clock.

Every minute felt like fifteen. Every second lasted forever.

Dad’s breathing was becoming more forced and there were more pauses in between breaths.

Joe stepped out to call Alex to find out how far they were.

I moved over to dad’s right side. I took his hand. I told him again how I knew how much he wanted to live, but that his body wouldn’t let him. I cried. I told him again how much I love him. How proud I am of his strength. I asked him if he wanted to pray. He nodded yes. I prayed the Our Father with him. He didn’t verbalize the words. I then apologized because I know we’re not Catholic, but I told him how much I love the Hail Mary and prayed that. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. I realized this was the hour of my father’s death. I began to pray for him. For God to forgive all his sins, to accept my father into heaven, to ease all his pain. I told dad that I would tell mom how much he loves her and that he did his best to hold on.

Joe came back in and said they were just past West 117th. I looked right at Joe and said dad’s not gonna make it.

We just stood by his side, holding his hand, crying. At one point, I placed my ear to his chest and listened to his heart. Instead of a normal thump-thump, it was very squishy sounding. I told Joe to listen to dad’s chest. I told Joe it was an amazing sound.

The experience of watching your father die, of watching his life pass away, is very surreal. There are no words to possibly contain the different emotions, thoughts, etc. that you’re going through.

Joe and I told dad again how much we love him. We thanked him again and again for all he has done for us and for our family. We told him that we would be sure to tell mom how much he loved her and how he tried to wait.

A neurosurgeon came in. The doctor and nurse quickly followed. They were unable to catch him in the hall. He introduced himself and explained that he wanted to tap dad’s shunt to test the fluid. He asked us to leave the room. I explained that I had been there for so many things, I wanted to stay. Joe stepped out.

He cleaned dad’s incision. Put on his gloves and began to draw fluids. He inserted the needle and began to expand it. Nothing came out. He pulled the needle out and tried again.
I told the doctor thank you for trying, but it was enough. I told him that I knew my dad was dying and that I was okay with it. I told the doctor I didn’t want dad to have anymore physical pain.

He looked at me gratefully. He shook my hand and extended his sympathies.

I didn’t think dad would listen. He’s stubborn like that.

But he did.

I don’t know when, but I realized dad had not taken another breath. I don’t know when his last breath was. I just remember telling Joe, dad’s not breathing. I then said it again, a little louder, he’s not breathing.

There was nothing special about dad’s last breath. At least nothing I noticed. It was very peaceful. It wasn’t troubled, and it didn’t look any more painful than anything else he has been through in his life.

He wasn’t struggling to breathe. He was just trying to stay with us. At one point, I leaned in and told dad that I didn’t want him to die and that if he would hang in there, I would give him anything he wanted to eat or drink.

Dad died shortly. His life passed away.

It was about 10:15 pm.

Alex and mom showed up around 10:30. Mom walked in, with a smile on her face, asking how he was. Joe and I had agreed to not tell her over the phone that dad had died. We said dad passed.

She didn’t really comprehend. It took a moment. She said, what? We said dad passed.

I’ve never heard mom cry like that.

We told her that he tried to wait for her. We told her that it was peaceful. He wasn’t in pain. We told her that he loves her so much.

She just cried.

Joe and I agree. Neither one of us ever thought we could watch someone die, much less hold their hand.

I remember when my grandma died, my grandfather leaned over her casket and kissed her. I thought that was gross. How could you touch a human that was dead? I now understand.

You see, dad’s physical body was the only thing left I had of him. I couldn’t stop touching his arm, sitting next to him on the bed. I didn’t want to leave the room.

I find it difficult to believe he is gone. I know, believe me, I know he is better off.

For a brief moment, while he was dying, I heard someone say that mom said no intubation. And
I thought, why not? That would keep him alive. That would help him breathe.

But I knew that’s not right. Dad would be a vegetable.

And we couldn’t put him through anymore.

I know dad is in heaven, watching over us. The only pain he has is from our pain.

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Such a simple concept

As I was putting Henry down for his nap, I was singing to him …

Go to sleep, little one

the time has come

for you to sleep.

Whatever your dream,

the world is yours

just close your eyes

and it’s yours.

And it hit me.

I am so paranoid about so many things going wrong in this pregnancy. I know, I mean I really do *know* what can happen. I know that I’m at risk for developing preeclampsia again and I know women who’ve lost their beautiful babies because of this shitty disease.

And I’m scared.

Not scared like I was when I held dad’s hand as he died. But scared in another way – scared as a mother, scared as a wife.

But all my fears don’t do anything. What does do something, how I can be proactive, is to close my eyes and dream. Bubba Joe’s Dad and I made this decision to take a leap of faith and try to conceive again.

I’d begun to give up hope, after 9 months of actively trying.

But then we closed our eyes, and dreamed.

Here I am, 10 weeks pregnant.

So many things can go wrong. So many things in my life have gone wrong, but I’m still here, and I’ve made it through hell to return and tell ya’ll that I can do this.

So I’m going to head my own words and let the world be mine.

If anything happens, there’s nothing I can do about it. Preeclampsia has no cure, no diet, no vitamins, nothing that can prevent it if its gonna happen. But I don’t have to let it consume me with fear. Rather, I’m chosing to dream of the pregnancy that I always wanted.

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