Friday, July 4, 2008

"Ones Past is what one is.

It is the only way by which people should be judged."   Oscar Wilde

My brother in law passed away several days ago. He was 57 years young. He was in the hospital for 70 days and those 70 days were a roller coaster ride. He told a friend who visited him during the first few days, before modern medicine took hold of him and ....well, when he was still coherent that he was dying. I felt very strongly at the beginning that he would survive, get better and resume his life.

But, it did not work out according to plan. He was too ill, past saving and if he has survived, I am certain would have been a semi-invalid at best. He is my husbands brother. We visited him the day before Fathers Day and for the first time in nearly six weeks he was not in a coma like state and actually communicated with us despite his trac with facial expressions and a raspy hoarse whisper. Except for closing his eyes to rest, he never took his eyes off my husband. They were to move him to a room on another floor (he had been in the ICU units for most the duration except for a brief stay at a rehabilitation hospital, but he suffered another set back and returned to the ICU unit) and that seemed encouraging.

Then he took a turn for the worst and because of a living will at 730 Monday night they took him off life support.

No one knew how long. A few hours, a few days. My husband drove the 400 miles from Memphis in record breaking time. He arrived in time.

The heart rate was very elevated. It was explained that the heart was in over drive compensating for the decreased intake of oxygen. Around 1am (I'm guessing, time was a blur) his heart rate plummeted. I was alone in the room with him, holding his hand and rubbing his arm because I am certain when we are in this state of leaving this plane and preparing to enter another, we are aware of those around us, when the nurse entered the room. She began to take off the many tubes still connecting him. Morphine drip and the such. She deflated the pressure bags on his legs. I have little understanding of medicine, but I suppose it was helping to keep his blood circulating.

She told me he was nearing the end and it would not be long.

Then they decided to move him out of ICU because they needed the cubicle/room and we were being transferred to a larger and much more comfortable room on another floor.

The transfer was horrendous. The bed from ICU would not go through the smaller entry door and they tried every which way to get him in, finally shuffling us off into a room and closing the door while they moved him into a smaller bed.

Several minutes later they took us into the room and one look at him we knew he was gone. He had two more heart beats over several minutes and then he left us.

A doctor has to sign the death certificate. We waited for 45 minutes for his arrival. He looked to be 16 years old. He stood over the bed and asked us, "Do you understand what has happened?"

We were stunned. What do you say? How do you answer such a question?

I don't know why I decided to write about this here in this public forum. I have dealt with medical facilities, doctors and hospital staff for many years now. The majority are dedicated caregivers who are answering a special calling to aid our sick and dying.

Yet, sometimes you wonder about it all. The bigger picture.

When Doogie Howser was paged from the room several moments later we all looked at each other and shook our heads.

"I wanted to say, "Doc I don't understand why he won't get up!", his son blurted out and we had a much need snicker about that.

"He went fast" my SIL said.

"Who? that doctor, he was kinda young wasn't he?" my husband responded and then we all snorted. It had been a long night.

We loved him very much.




mutualaide said...

May he rest in peace.  You did love him very much.  I love that through the end you were all there and that after he was gone you were able to have a snort, a snigger, a chuckle.  More than likely, he would have approved.  

rdautumnsage said...

I'm sorry to hear about your BIL's passing hon. Your family will be in my prayers on the smoke during this time of sadness...These words speak of the love everyone had for your BIL. As for Doogie Howser...lets hope time refines his personality around families that have lost someone. Your in my thoughts dear friend. (Hugs)Indigo

frankandmary said...

The final certainty that awaits all of us.  I really understand this entry, & had some sim experiences with Dad & Mom. I had drs sit with me & explain what had happened to their own parents in heartwarming detail, & others run in & out like they were on fire.
In the end, he had love & comfort, attention & peace.  No one wants to die alone....~Mary

mlraminiak said...

My condolences on your loss.  

It doesn't happen like they show on tv or in the movies, does it?  It's good he had family around him at the end.  But I can't believe they decided to move him WHILE he was dying.  What a bizarre thing to do.  Lisa  :-/

chatalicious said...

So sorry for your loss. When we lost my baby sister-in-law last June we watched her slip away and that is so hard. In a way it's a gift to know and to be able to be with someone during their last days and hours. On the other hand it is so hard on the family. I kept thinking about the movie Steel Magnolias as I held my m i l's hand. She was divorced and I kept thinking how much comfort her husband might have given her had they still been together. Somedays I wake up and still struggle with the fact that she is gone. I do think that they are keenly aware and I often take comfort in the last words she spoke to us that she loved us. When they leave us having felt their love they leave a part behind.

jmorancoyle said...

    I'm very sorry for your loss. I know what you went through. Been there done that. And it isn't fun either. It seems though that even in the depths of grief we need to crack a joke here or there. Maybe that's what it is that allows us to get up and pick up the pieces after such a tough loss. I know your bil probably laughed at his son from where ever he was at. I wrote a lot after my parents passed, and again after my bil passed. I needed to voice a lot of those same emotions. I'm still dealing with the passing of a sil. We weren't close or even that friendly, although we did have a lot that tied us together in this life. Take care. My sincerest sympathy. You and your family are in my prayers.

fabshels said...

I am sorry for your family's loss. It is very hard to lose a brother as my own passed away March 18 of this year at the young age of 34.  Death no matter how it comes is hard for the living.  Its good to be able to laugh tho.

Hang in there. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

slapinions said...

I too am sorry for your loss. A very nice, moving piece. My condolences to you and your husband.


sunnyside46 said...

I think laughter after a death shows how much joy that person gave us in life.
so sorry for your loss

helmswondermom said...

Well, now you have given me my first tears of the day.  But I still thank you.  That was a lovely entry.  I'm so sorry about your brother-in-law.  When you wrote that except for blinking he didn't take his eyes off your husband once, that's when I teared up.  They must have been close.  I'm glad you could write about it here.  I hope that you and your family and his family are doing okay now that the funeral is over.  At least, as okay as can be expected.  He was so very young, wasn't he?  Take care!

ksquester said...

Peace be with you and your family and YES, it was a very stupid question.  Anne

mtrib2 said...

It had to be very emotional for you all, especially your husband, losing him at middle age.     It is difficult losing a parent that has lived a long life, so having a sibling to deal with is tremendous.    May your family remember him as his memory is what comfort remains.    I know thinking of my deceased family members brings me much joy, though only after the passing of years.     mark