Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Monday, April 13, 2009

Early Morning
4:45 am

Can someone come take his vitals please? I ask.

I ask again, 15 minutes later after no one shows up.

When vitals are taken, his o2 level was 84.

Art lies in his bed, oblivious to the stress he’s causing, eyes open, lids red, the whites of his eyes, looking like a weird colored map of water, rivers painted red instead of blue. Not seeing or hearing a thing. Fingers swollen. Hands swollen, wrists too. Left arm in a constant tremor.

There was a flurry of activity. The nurse, the charge nurse then the doctor show up.
Dr. Taj, his name tag said was young, gave little eye contact, and was straight forward.

“Does he have code order?” he asked. He turns to me, to make eye contact for the first time. “Can we intubate him and give him chest compressions if we need to?”

A code order? I stammer.

“Intubate him (pause) if he codes (shutter). The kids need to say good-bye. We need to keep him here for the kids.” (long sigh)

Holy shit…it’s like I’d practiced these words before.

What’s happening?

Art's leaving.

He's done.

An Xray and an EKG are order.

Art has been sequestered to a negative pressure room. A series of two rooms an outer/hallway room and then his inner hospital room. Viral meningitis (which they think he has) is contagious especially to other immune suppressed patients (people who have low white blood cell counts) A negative pressure room, keeps the germs inside and filters them out.

I leave the room as the portable Xray tech does his job and wait in the outer hallway, I stand next to the EKG guy, waiting for his turn to hook my husband up. I cry.

I follow the EKG guy in, take pictures, and read the printout over his shoulder. He hands me the print out to sign when he’s done. He thinks I knew what I was reading.

I think “Ha…see, I could be a doctor.” I consider signing it but then decided against it. It would be more fun if Art were aware to witness this little ruse.

I think about the kids.

"Honey," I whisper in his ear, after the EKGguy is gone, before the doctor returns “You can go if you need to but… please wait, please wait to say good-bye to the kids.”

The guilt floods in.

I should have had the friend over to video Art leaving life messages to the kids. I should have visited on Saturday with the kids, even if they were sick or no matter how much of a break I needed. I should have, I should have, I should have….

And I realize like I've been hit, NOTHING is perfect. Death doesn’t happen like it does on tv.

Illness doesn’t happen like it does on tv. I knew that.

Sitting here typing with one hand, as my other holds is swollen, clenched sweaty fist, I feel it.

This is not perfect. My life with Art is not perfect. It is ending, undone, incomplete, not part of th plan.

Well, fuck.


  1. Kim, I'm so sorry. I can't even think of what to say but to offer support and love to you and your family.

    It sounds from your post like he's not conscious, but I'm sure on some level he's aware of you and drawing great comfort from your presence.

  2. He knows... everyone knows. Maybe it isn't perfect, but the love you've had will linger on forever. It's the one (the only) thing that we can take with us.

    My love goes out to you and your whole family at this difficult time.

  3. it came to me with a rush and
    a sudden loss of breath
    that i had lost track
    of your journey through this punishing period
    since last week when my
    computer went malware-haywire.

    like everyone else i guess
    i was afraid i would not
    be here to walk those
    next steps with you
    as life makes you go where
    you really would rather not be going.

    what can we give?
    we're spirits of warmth and love
    sending you our fellow sorrow
    and our regrets that it's come to this.

    your journals through all these months
    have been extraordinary evidence
    that you have given Art the most beautiful,
    wonderful, and loving
    experience of wife-ness
    he, or any man, could possibly hope for.

    As all your correspondents have noted,
    Art knows.
    He just knows.
    And he has to be,
    just has to be, eternally,
    so very grateful
    for all that you do,
    have done,
    and still will do.

    A warm hug to hold you,

  4. Oh Kim, I don't even know what to say. I am so, so sorry. I am sending lots of prayers.

  5. Rachel B9:00 AM

    with one hand on the mouse,
    and the other wiping the tears
    I pray for all of you.

  6. Kim, I am praying for you and for Art - I'm so sorry this is happening. Wish I had the right words but I don't... wishing that thinking of you could truly help in this situation but I fear that it doesn't. Sending love and prayers.


  7. Kim,
    You meant it when you said "for better or for worse." You have set a standard of care that will serve as a guide when it is our turn to go down this road. Your vibrant spirit has been life giving to Art. Your presence at his side a reminder to all of us of the simplicity and beauty of loyalty and love. We remain by your side and hold you in our hearts.

  8. Kim, I am thinking of you and your family constantly.
    love and wishes of good health...

  9. Anonymous11:14 AM

    My heart is aching for all of you . . . and as it aches, I say continuous prayers for peace and strength. There are no words . . . but Art knows, your children know the love and strength that you have. Hugs coming from Maine for you all.


  10. We send all of our love to you and your family. Love, Margaret, John and Maeve

  11. Kim, you are such an amazing wife and mother. Your strength and courage has kept Art strong. You are his angel. May the Lord comfort your heart while you comfort your hubby. Lots of Love, MM Cindy