Author Topic: Lois' Story--From The Stones to Dialysis (part b)  (Read 3040 times)


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Lois' Story--From The Stones to Dialysis (part b)
« on: August 31, 2009, 05:54:40 AM »
(continued from part a)

> "Yeah, she's been on one before." I said as a matter of fact. "She's not a DNR and there is no proxy or will. She has a son."<
> "bleep," I thought. "ICU, ventilator, she's dead, their still doing CPR, or maybe she's fine and bitching at everyone for having screwed up." This was one time I'd hoped Lois was up and raising holy hell. <
> "What had transpired in the last thirty minutes?" I asked myself in disbelief. I talked with the nephrology nurse, heard Lois in the back round, drove the five minutes to the hospital, and went up the elevator three floors to what now seemed like the fast lane on the Southeast Expressway through purgatory and into hell. <
> "Into hell?" I'm thinking! Hell, I didn't even believe in hell! Purgatory must have surfaced due to my strict Catholic up
inging. The two of us had debated the existence of God for years, chiding each other as to who was more of an atheist. Now I was thinking in terms of purgatory and hell. Was this the old adage "there's no atheists in a foxhole" coming to haunt me?<
> "Well when can I see her?" I asked.<
> We stared at each other for what seemed eternity. I'm sure it was only a few moments when she said to me, "Ya know, we've been sittin' here talking for about ten minutes and I really don't know what is happening."<
> "Yeah I know, so when can I see her?" I asked again.<
> I flashed back to Roger Williams Hospital when Lois went into congestive heart failure and was placed on life support. Unknowingly she had been under dialyzing for over a week because of the impending peritonitis. The Gam
o dialysis center said everything was fine even though each morning she awoke soaking wet in dialysate fluid. We knew the fluid was not hers because we had found where that went too. Her heart and lungs. <
> The unlit room now turned lurid. The only illumination lurked in the hallways to the left and in front of me. Above the doctor's head I could see people
iskly moving around through the wire mesh windows and to my right was the door we'd entered but I couldn't see anything. Had they transferred Lois downstairs yet? Was she still in the room? I didn't know, I couldn't see. We both rose and moved toward the door. Politely she asked me to stay put and she'd be right back. <
> As the door closed I proceeded directly behind her. I took a gander down the hallway and at the elevators and black gurneys stored against the wall. All was quiet but people continued to mill around Lois' room. Or was it her former room? Slowly the Dr. came towards me. <
> "Oh no, here we go" I muttered. <
> What now I wondered. They couldn't revive her, or maybe she was already in the ICU. ICU again! How many times had Lois been in an Intensive Care Unit? She had been in one at Roger Williams, South Shore Hospital, and now Sturdy Hospital. That was why, earlier, the elevator was held open. <
> "Yes, they have taken her downstairs to the ICU. I don't know the current status, but I'll take you down there," the small women in the white overcoat informed me. <
> "Oh this is great! What the @#%$!" I said in both disgust and despair. "Well at least she isn't dead," I thought. "ICU and on a respirator was that middle ground of suspended reality. Neither here, nor there." <
> The doctor told me that I would probably have to wait until she was stabilized. We went down the elevator, this time both doors opened; she aimed me in the direction of the ICU waiting room, and wished me luck. Luck? I think I needed more than luck! Anyway, I thanked her, walked through the automatic double doors, and followed the blood red signs to where one said; "ICU Visitors Please Wait Here." <
> "Yeah right, the hell with waiting."                <
> I made my way down the hallway to the entrance of a
ightly, fluorescent-lit room. The nurses? station was huge compared with other ICU's I'd encountered. Laid out in the middle of this sixty by forty foot room a "hospital green" counter sat atop desk areas overflowing with computers, keyboards telephones, paperwork and medical gadgets. Television monitors hung from the ceiling and they weren't
oadcasting "Live With Regis and Kelly." <
> "May I help ya?" asked a nurse.<
> "Yeah, I am lookin' for Lois." <
> Directly over the nurse, in the far-left corner several nurses busily moved in and out of a room. <
> "We're workin' on her right now. If ya could just wait in the visita's room, we'll call you as soon as she is ready. Are you related?" she asked with perplexed eyes.<
> "Yeah, I'm her S.O. and home dialysis tech. What's goin' on?" I asked, as if I didn't know.<
> "Oh, okay. If you could just wait a few more minutes we'll explain. We'll want to ask ya' some questions."<
> Ah yes, questions like, who can make the life and death decisions? "To pull the plug or not to pull the plug?" I went back to the waiting room. There was another sign that said, "All ICU Visitors Dial 9 Before Entering." <
>This small windowless "L" shaped room with two lamps and the obligatory coffee table of outdated magazines would be the scene of several meetings over the next few days. Sitting down on one of the blue cloth chairs I switched on a round, glass tabletop floor lamp and suddenly remembered my grandfather as I watched him pass away several years before. The same lamp stood in his living room for as long as I could remember. I don't believe anyone else was in the room at the time and if there was it was dead silent. <
> Not able to sit still I paced the hallway and stuck my head into the ICU every time I passed by. "All this because of a little pneumonia?" I asked myself. Was the home hemodialysis training, Internet research, Lois wheeling around the dialysis center waiting room collecting signatures for renal legislation, and future daily and nocturnal dialysis all for naught? Was it a waste of time? <
>I needed to call Pat to find out what she knew. Also, I needed to call Jeff, but that could wait until more details were known. Again the same question went through my head. "What had happened up in that room?" Her extra treatment went fine on Saturday. "Uneventful TX" I would write in her chart. Sure, for the last month or so, everything else seemed to be falling apart but home hemodialysis, was one of the only things on the upside. Also stampeding through my head was the question of whether or not Lois could endure both physically and mentally another stint on a life support device. These were questions I couldn't answer and maybe never could. I started pacing quicker. I couldn't wait any longer picked up the phone and dialed 9. <
> "Hi, can I see Lois yet?"<
> "Yes, come on in she's ready."<
> Numb, angry, rational and confused my body felt like it floated down the hallway when a nurse met me at the entrance of the ICU. She led me to the far-left corner room where I'd suspected Lois was. There again was the woman I'd known for nearly fifteen years lying on her back with her face turned toward me and an oxygen tube, taped to her cheeks, protruding from her mouth. Her head slightly jerked with every
eath of artificially manufactured air. I looked at the machine, the monitor hanging on the ceiling out the window at the clear blue sky and back at Lois. The whole scene was surreal. I suppose one of the nurses explained what was happening but I don't remember. <
> "Do you have any idea what happened?" I asked. <
> The nurse told me that she really didn't know any details because everything had happened so fast. She did know that Lois had gone into cardiac arrest and ceased
eathing though not necessarily in that order. <
> "What can you tell me about her?" she asked politely.<
> Oh here we go again. Well by now you the reader know the routine. Hastily I ran off the list: "I do her dialysis at home. She was treated for kidney stones in 1990, a stroke in '96, peritonitis in..." <
> "Well the doctor has ordered an EEG but I'm not sure when it will be. It should be soon."<
> "EEG," I said to myself.<
> "Electro..." I mumbled.<
> "It'll tell us her
ain activity."<
> "Oh, okay." <
> Stepping into the room I put my hand on Lois'. "What, the hell am I going to do," I wondered? I needed to call Jeff and tell him what has happened. But what did happen? All I knew was that his mother was once again in an ICU on a bleep ventilator. What would I have done all alone at the house, this Monday morning, if she had stopped
eathing and gone into cardiac arrest while hooked up to Dracula. All the doctors and others hadn't

 saved her from this calamity. <
> Again I thought back to the last time she was on a ventilator. In spite of the fact that she was in a medically induced coma Lois would lightly squeeze my finger when I'd ask if she could hear me?I hesitated to try it this time. They hadn't even restrained her hands and arms so as not to pull out the tubes. Would this be the final signal of what might come? Would I have to admit that this was the end? What should I say to her? "Lois can you hear me?" Or, "Everything is going to be all right?hang in there kid." Maybe I should just say, "Goodbye. It's been one hell of a journey and I love you." Or maybe I should yell, "Wake the hell up god dammitt, you've been through this before and you can pull out of it this time too!"<
> Hiss...beep...hiss...beep went the machine. These were the only sounds I could hear except what was screaming inside my head.<
> Maybe I should turn on CNN and she'd wake up yelling, "Turn the bleep channel! I c-a-n'-n-t-s-t-a-n-d-C-N-N!" Even while semi-conscious in Roger Williams, she would be able to mutter, "T-U-R-N-O-F-F-C-N-N!"<
> I looked out at the nurse's station and round the small room. The only light shining was through a large single pane picture window overlooking the main parking lot. There were two chairs and I pulled one of them bedside; a nurse walked into the room and looked at us. "How many times had she seen this situation before?" I wondered.<
> "Hi, how ya doing?" she asked sympathetically. "Can you give me some information?"<
> "I guess so."<
> I knew what she wanted to know.<
> "Her next of kin is her son Jeff; he knows she's in the hospital but doesn't know anything about this yet. I'll call him in a couple of minutes?he?ll make the major decisions."<
> "Okay," she said solemnly.<
> "Well Lois here it goes; I'm going to call Jeff," I said out loud. "He's probably at work so I won't leave the details in a message." <
>I walked out of the room to the nurse's station and asked if I could use the phone. In my wallet was a tiny piece of paper with his cell phone number. Dialing hesitantly I tried to find the words to say to him if he did answer. His voice mail went through what seemed like endless directions; his recorded voice?Jeff?beep...<
> After fa
icating some meaningless chitchat with the nurses we exchanged phone numbers. Since Lois obviously hadn't finished her treatment I asked when they would dialyze her again?they didn't know. "It will be up to the docta'," one said. I turned and walked back into the room and I remember thinking I couldn't stay there any longer. Taking a deep
eath I walked away not knowing what had happened or what would come?the future and the past all of a sudden became irrelevant. I told the nurses I'd be back sometime but have no recollection of driving home.                 <
> When arriving at the house I called Pat at once to find out what she knew. The only part of this conversation I recall was that she told me the nurse said to her, "I turned around and Lois was blue; John just walked right into the middle of it." <
> I am not sure what time Jeff called back but when he did I explained the circumstances and said, "Jeff, this is it."<
> "I know," he said.  (continued in part c)
« Last Edit: August 31, 2009, 05:58:42 AM by Administrator »
"Like me, you unfortunate enough to stumble upon a silent war. The trouble is that once you see it, you can't unsee it. And once you've seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing,becomes as political an act as speaking out. Either way, you're accountable."

Arundhati Roy