The rest of hell week 2008   Leave a comment

The whole family crashed out in the waiting room, and the CCU nurse was kind enough to offer us a conference room to sleep in.  I had obtained a 4-year-old rescue Pomchi via Petfinders  just one month before, and my doctor had written me a prescription to take him with me everywhere as a “comfort animal”, as I already had PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and Panic/Anxiety Disorder even before this happened.  So the hospital even let me keep my little “Destiny” with me in there.

When I went in to check on him in the morning, there was no movement whatsoever, and his hands were cold.  The only thing moving or making noise in that room were the machines that were keeping his body alive.  When the doctor arrived that morning, he told us that.. as he suspected would happen, Russ’ ICP was very high, and he didn’t think he would die, but he didn’t think he would ever come out of the coma.  Close friends from Arizona drove all night, to bring my middle two children to us.  Russ’ mom and sister flew in later that day.  We had a huge group of people there, and later that afternoon, knowing it was going to be a long recovery, if any, I had the friends drive me the hour it took back to my house to get clothes/toiletries, and let the neighbor know what was going on.  We decided to take a ride out to the site of the accident… some 10 miles from home.

We had a hard time finding it, but finally did, when the neighbors noticed us driving back and forth… they showed us the exact location.  After all the discussion about what might have happened.. everyone else went in different directions back to the truck, and I stayed there for a bit alone.  As I began walking the skid marks, it began to snow.  Now, Russ knew of my love for snow.. and mind you – it was now April 17.  They were just flurries, but as they fell and I walked along I could feel Russ’ presence.  I was certain of it.. because I knew I did not feel his spirit in that room.. and I had been at his bedside for 2 other near fatal accidents since 1995.  With every step I took, there was a running commentary in Russ’ voice in my head, outlining every detail of the wreck.. down to the moment he felt he was “lifted” off the bike by what he referred to as “god”.  He said he never felt a thing, because when he reached a certain level of terror.. he was out of his body instantly… and as I sat there in shock about what I was hearing… he said this, “We were right, Lori – everything is connected… and hell is like being a dog on a chain who can only watch this connection from the outside.”

When we all got back to the house, I got my own vehicle.. and my daughter and me went to look at the motorcycle at the wrecking yard.  The guy there looked at me horrified and said, “are you sure?”  I was sure.  I have to know details to process such a shock.  The more information, the more I know what to do next.  The bike had a dent in the rear fender (bike went end over end and scraped the guy wire) and a rip in the back seat (where I would have been had he picked me up after the interview to go look at the fire he was riding to go see) and a broken handlebar and headlight.  Other than that, nothing.  I was astonished at the fact that my husband was in a coma without a scratch on him, and the bike was barely affected.

I went back to the hospital.  Family and friends got hotel rooms near the hospital… and we all waited some more.  Every single time I went in the CCU room, I felt no trace of Russ.. ever again in that room.  Each time I visited that room, the coldness in his body had migrated further up his arms.. and his spirit migrated farther away.  All reports from the doctor were the same – “we just have to wait”.  I called my doctor that afternoon and as soon as he heard what had happened, he said “which hospital?”  I told him and he said that there was a pharmacy across the street that he had called a prescription into for me.  I didn’t even ask what.  I just went and got it.  I was moving, and talking, and walking.. but I felt as if I was in a nightmare.  Things were so surreal.  The script was for tranquilizers, and I gladly began taking them, hoping I would not go insane if I did.

A few days later, (accident on Wednesday, this was Saturday) I began doing research.  News, television stations, attorneys, Sheriffs.. I found out that nobody knew what happened.. and the Highway Patrol was not going to do a complete accident reconstruction.  The attorney I found would not take a dime from me.  He hired an investigator for me out of his own pocket, came down and met me at the scene.  He took the bike to his storage in Eugene 175 miles away, and stored it for me for free.. and it was nearly a year later before I picked it up.  He was awesome!  He said it might be a good idea to place an ad in the paper asking for witnesses, and I did, with a picture of the bike.  No response, ever.

Later that day one of the nurses noted that Dana (first on scene) had called the nurses station to check on him.  We found this very strange, because Dana had our cell numbers, and had said she would call us to see how he, and we were.

As I lay my head down on that couch for the 4th night.  I began to remember something that had happened the Friday night before the accident… Russ reached over me in his sleep (quick – like if you were putting your hand over a kid in the passenger seat of a car when you had to stop real fast) and it woke me up because he scratched my cheek.  I said “are you ok honey?”.. he said, “I was just trying to… oh nevermind, it was just a dream” and we went back to sleep.  I also remembered that the next morning.. he asked me to never let them put him on life support if he had another accident.  I said, “well, what if you are in a coma, and come back to me?”  He stated this, “Look, if I have brain damage, and I’m never going to communicate again, or be at least the mentality of a 12 year old… I don’t WANT to come back”.

Sunday was awful.  Our friends left, and went back to Arizona.. and everyone was losing hope.  We had developed a kind of schedule.. rotating people in the waiting room so there was always someone there to deal with any information, and nobody was farther than 10 minutes away at any given time.  The farthest I went was around and around the block with the dog, and the cigarettes I had started smoking again as soon as my youngest daughter arrived on day 2.  People began calling and trying to offer hope, but that body in the CCU continued to get colder, and there was no sign of Russ.

Monday brought visits from more friends, and a visit from Financial Services.. and the counselor on duty, who asked a stack of papers worth of questions about organ donation and such.  Telling me that since Russ was an organ donor, we would have to wait until he was entirely brain-dead for him to donate his heart.  That night I had a horrifying dream…

I had given up our beautiful custom-built house in Cave Junction, and moved into a small apartment to be close to the Long Term Care Facility where he had been put in Medford.  He was conscious now, but not able to communicate well at all.  I was trying to feed him lunch, and he slapped the spoon out of my hand.  He cussed me out as best he could in the garbled language I had come to understand about 1/3 of … and he looked at me with such hate!!  It literally broke my heart, and I woke up Tuesday crying, because I knew what I had to do.

When the doctor came in at 7am that morning, I asked him those pointed questions.. about whether he would ever communicate again if he woke up or be the mentality of a 12-year-old, as he had specified that Saturday before.  Both answers were “no, absolutely not”.  I took the entire family in the conference room that had become my home away from home, and told them that I wanted to turn the ventilator off.  Nobody objected, and his mother said that it would have to be my decision.  I called the doctor out from his room, and told him what I wanted to do.  People from everywhere began to call and show up… back and forth went the people.  The organ donation team was contacted, and surgery to harvest his organs after turning off life support was scheduled that night for 11pm.  Any family members that wanted to be there when he passed from this world were welcome.

His sister Lori, me, and both my daughters decided to be there.  The plane from the donation team was late, and we were all dressed in scrubs by 2am.Daughters

My friend came to wait with us, and brought sort of a little mini shrine, with candles, beads and a card… we lit the candle and she called her daughter, a musician, and she sang me this song while playing her guitar. more The InFaMous KarLa MoxLey HEAR THE EP!!! songs at Myspace Music It’s called Speak of you… and I cried and cried.. I still cry when I hear it.When we went down to the OR (we knew it was the morgue.. what OR is in the basement of a hospital?) and for the first time in nearly a week, I felt him… and he was warm.  Organ donation had provided me with a ceramic “heart within a heart” that each of us (Russ and I) held a portion of in our hands.  The ventilator was turned off at 3:38am.  His sister said, “I love you big brother” and he sighed once.  He sighed two more times, once with his oldest and youngest step (though he never treated them any different than if they were his own flesh and blood) daughters’ goodbyes and I love you’s.  Then they left me alone with him… I told him how much I loved him and that it was ok to go… and the heart monitor went flat… and he smiled.  He smiled the most wonderful peaceful smile I had ever seen.

I kissed him goodbye on the lips.. and left the room.  I was stoic… and he was gone.


Posted June 17, 2011 by Connected Threads in Personal Issues

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