Five years ago today, on August the first, 2012 was the day my husband collapsed due to cancer in his spine. He could feel himself going and called me. I got there just in time to try to hold him up and get him out of the small shower room he was in. Instead, I got stuck under him and had to manipulate around him in order to drag him to the bigger bathroom. He could not move his legs and his arms, while still working, were very weak.
I called our nurse and she called the ambulance. It was ten o’clock .
Jim said he was fine. There was no pain and he would be OK by morning. Just give him a pillow and a blanket, and he could sleep on the floor. How could he be funny at a time like this?
When the ambulance arrived, I guided the two attendants up our 16 step spiral staircase to their 200 pound patient. They had a rough time getting him down and out to their vehicle, but in he bumped.
As they pulled away, there were no sirens ,just a distinctly dark and suppressing silence.
I stood there on the front sidewalk and watched the ambulance go around the corner at the end of our cul-de-sac. I knew in my heart that this was a change in our course and possibly our final battle with Jim’s deteriorating health.
I did not cry. I was senseless, palpably numb, and scared to death.
Back in I went, got dressed and left for the hospital. It seemed surreal. I was feeling totally clueless, devoid of feeling and I just kept going – like a clock – the beat of the minutes just going on and on and on.
I met a RIDE program as I entered the city and told the officer that I was following the ambulance that was carrying my husband. He did not seem moved. I could not understand his lack of empathy at the time.
I arrived at the hospital and saw his empty ambulance. My race to the emergency door was interrupted by a security guard who told me to move my car to a parking lot a distance away. Again, I could not understand why these people could not see my fear, my dread, my sadness.
I entered the emergency department and explained the situation to the lady behind the glass. She asked me to take a seat. Why could I not be with him? She did not answer, only pointed to the chairs.
Ten minutes later I am allowed to enter the sanctity of the inner room where he was. The doctors of the inner sanctum had not been told I had arrived. Why is this not important to anyone but me?
There were no beds available so they were going to send him home with me – a 200 pound paralyzed man – and then they realized – OH YA – THIS DUDE CAN’T WALK!!! DUH!
Then they said he may have to lay in a hallway since there were no rooms.
Then they found him a room.
I sat with him for a while and at 3 in the morning I went home. Nothing would happen till morning. Little did I know that there were a limited number of nurses on staff at night and Jim could not get help for anything including toileting. It was a night of devastating downers for him and he was exhausted when I arrived in the morning.
He regained some of his strength with meds over the next two weeks in this room and was transferred to a more humane setting for the last four weeks of his hospitalization.
He worked hard with the physio nurse and that hard work and the meds gave him the ability to move his toes a little and also bear his weight for a short time – but this would prove to be a dead end. Literally! The powers- that -be determined that he was not going to get better and he could go home and get his meds there under my care and the “home care professionals” who would support me. That is another story and a horror story at that…
August the first was a nightmare I shall never recover from. It is a day of the year that signalled the end of my life as it was. My very identity and my reason for living rolled away from our home in an ambulance – alone and apart from me – the first of many partings….and the beginning of the end.