Saturday, July 12, 2014

what happened anyway? (and two weeks later)

I kind of feel the need to say what happened, as far as why my mom died.
She was admitted to the hospital on Monday June 23rd for a seemingly innocuous (though, serious) infection.
She went from sitting up, looking cute and joking with the nurses streaming in and out of her room about being "such a pain in the ass," to being flown to the Hospital at the University of Penn Thursday afternoon as her condition worsened.
On Thursday, the doctors insisted my dad go home and get some rest, as the next few days were expected to be a bit rough.
Again, her condition was serious, but not necessarily critical. We were told to "remain positive."
2am Friday night/ morning, my dad was called and alerted to the fact that my mom's heart rate had spiked and her blood pressure was continuing to drop.
By 3am on  Friday, my dad and I were in her room on the 9th floor at Penn after a quiet, nervous drive into the city.
I was struck by the vast array of monitors, equipment and countless bags of fluid hooked up to my mom.
I was struck by the number of doctors and nurses constantly assessing my mom, confounded by how quickly the infection was ravaging her system.
We were told she was the sickest patient on the unit.
Mostly, I was struck by my mom's appearance.
Just days before, she had been wide eyed and alert.
Now, she was unconscious; heavily sedated, intubated, "sleeping" to the hum of a dialysis machine and ventilator.
On rounds that morning, I sat in as the team of specialists, residents, and all manner of medical personnel conferred about my mom.
We called upon some family members (mostly her brothers and sister, my aunt, and my best friend) urging them to come see my mom, though at that point it didn't seem or feel like we should (or would) be holding vigil at her bedside, willing her to hang on and turn a corner.
I called Graterford Prison that morning and explained the situation to somebody who would hopefully get in touch with my brother sooner rather than later.
I pleaded, "It's quite serious. Please, please let him call my mom."  

Around 9am, my mom was relieved of some of the sedation and she opened her eyes.
Unable to speak because of the breathing tube, she held my hand and my dad and I encouraged her to be tough, be strong.
I lied, sensing the worst, "Rob is on his way, mom."
She was getting sicker, quite literally, by the minute.

By 11am, the head doctor (Anoop, who was easily younger than me and so incredibly compassionate), explained to us that my mom would succumb to cardiac arrest at any time.
Not if. When.
Essentially, she was on life support and at that point we needed to make the decision to let her go peacefully and without pain.
I don't mean for any of this to sound clinical or cold.
These are the facts and I just feel the need to explain it and remember it, fully.
Everything had progressed (degraded, I guess is the better choice of word) so quickly and I just couldn't believe my dad and I were faced with making that unimaginable decision, together, in that moment.

I never said goodbye, I never said, "it's okay to let go," or any of that bullshit, because quite honestly,
it wasn't okay to let go.
It was such a short and fierce fight and my mom was not ready to die.
All I could do was say I loved her and to just relax. I didn't want her to be scared.

My dad and I were together with her the whole time.
As the nurse, Priscilla, deftly and quietly removed the tubes and tape and silenced the monitors, I just laid my head by mom's side and felt her cool skin (she was hypothermic due to such low blood pressure).
It wasn't long at all that she took her last breath upon being taken off life support, which gave me some strange measure of relief.
Relief knowing it was the best thing we could do for her because clearly she wasn't coming back from this awful, awful ordeal.
My dad spoke to her the entire time and I know she didn't feel alone.

The prison chaplain let my brother call, but it was a half hour too late.
My mom had already passed and my dad held the phone up to her ear and Rob talked.

My mom was not sickly.
I've had a hard time reconciling the well meaning sentiment, "She's no longer suffering, take comfort in that..." because she wasn't suffering, she hadn't been sick.
Certainly not sick enough through any of this that her death was so imminent.
It all happened so shockingly quickly.

My mom was diagnosed with Hepatitis almost fifteen years ago.
She recently completed a new regimen of medication that finally cured her.
The virus was gone from her system and her liver was showing signs of improvement.
Over the years, she had fought the illness and in the end, actually beat it.
Back in May, my mom received a magnesium infusion under the advisement of one her specialists who had been closely following her labs.
After that infusion, my mom was hospitalized for an infection (possibly in her stomach, though never confirmed).
The month between that incident and this most recent event left her tired and wanting desperately to bounce back and get on with life.
My heart aches knowing she had so much more left to do and look forward to.

So, that's what happened (disjointed little back story and all).
My mom had not been "sick"; her death had nothing to do with liver failure or (directly, at least) the Hepatitis.
Again, a stupid, persistent infection likely resistant from that stupid infusion back in May.
If anything, maybe her situation will help save somebody else from this tragic outcome.

My mom was young and witty and goofy and beautiful.
In short, just the best.

Yesterday marked two weeks since her death.
Mostly, it still doesn't feel real to me.
Part of me still believes she's going to call me (and I'll be in the shower, like so many mornings, and she'll leave that same message, "It's just me, Talk to you sooooon.")...

I'm sad that my kids don't have their Grammy anymore, that Maeve won't get to grow up with her and that Max lost one of his best, best buddies.

I'm sad that it's not Bob & Mare anymore...I mean, not in the flesh.
Bob and Mare Bob and Mare Bob and Mare...all my life.

I just miss her. 



1 comment:

Carol Gardner said...

Every Mon should have a daughter like you. I'm blessed with mine but know so many who are not. You mom was and is very proud of you Kimmie. Live life to the fullest

Carol ann