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  • Dr. Susan Rose

The Last Hospital Trip

We were admitted to Norton Audubon on Monday, October 12, 2020, and the doctors ordered dialysis immediately. You had one on Tuesday and another on Thursday. You wanted me to go home on Thursday as they were taking you down. It was scheduled for 5:00 pm, and I couldn't go down with you due to the COVID policies, so you said that you wanted me to have a good night's sleep. You always wanted me to take care of myself and you took such good care of me, because you said that one of us needed to be well enough to take care of us. I reluctantly went home. When I came back the next morning a little before 7:00, you greeted me by telling me how beautiful I was. (I remember that last week so vividly and relive both good and bad parts over and over again.) Then, you expressed how much pain you were in and that your body just couldn't take any more dialysis. We discussed palliative care. At that time, I just couldn't go there. I said that we could quit the dialysis, but that God would bring about that miracle. You reminded me that your angel said that it was going to be alright, but that might not mean what we want. (I wanted it be alright this side of heaven!! I married you because I couldn't imagine life without you. I didn't want to imagine it, much less do it!)

You ate breakfast and did the morning nurse routine - taking meds, etc. - then fell asleep. I opened my laptop, which we normally just left in the hospital room, and tried to work. Then, the nurse came in and said that the station was showing that your heart rate was very low. She said it was probably just a lead or something wrong with the machine. But, when she tried to wake you, you didn't respond. She told me that she was going to have to call the crash team, but that it would look scarier than it was. (This is so difficult to write. I am at round 3 as I keep having to take breaks. It's so painful to relive.) Yet, when the crash team included the Chaplain, I knew that she was just trying to calm me. You were taken over to ICU, and the Chaplain prayed with me outside the room as you were rolled over. Then, he took me to the ICU waiting area and stayed with me until I got to see you again. The nurse came out in about two hours - a long two hours!! She explained that you were not fully alert yet, but that you had asked for me. She thought you would respond sooner if I was there. I was just relieved that I could see you.

Once you did wake, we again discussed palliative care. I finally realized that was the loving thing to do. I could no longer be selfish. I so wish I had come to this conclusion long before I did. I just didn't want to live without you! We talked to the nurse, and she requested the palliative nurse come talk to us. He came that evening and arranged a meeting the next morning with the children via facetime.

The next morning, David was allowed to come in. I should have realized at this time that doctors thought that death was imminent, because otherwise only one visitor (me) could be with you due to all the COVID nonsense. However, I was still clinging to the idea that palliative care didn't mean the end. The palliative nurse came in and called the Browns via facetime on his computer. We began the meeting with explaining to the children your decision to get their input and comfort level. I had called them the day before to prepare them for the call, so they had an idea and agreed to support your decision even though it was difficult. After a bit, you said that you were tired. At this point, I have always thought that I should have stopped the meeting and scheduled a follow-up after you rested and we talked. But, the nurse encouraged us to go down the hall to a conference room and finish the meeting without you. I doubt there would have been a different outcome, but you should have been in this meeting. It was your life! However, the decision was made to begin palliative care. As I said, I didn't realize what that meant at the time. Daddy had been on palliative care since June and was home and comfortable. I thought palliative care meant that we would go home, and we would have more time together. Yet, I learned later that I was grossly mistaken.

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