Yet – I kept breathing. Despite the doctors best efforts to declare me dead: I lived. My family was pensive. Me too. When the year 2007 came to an end, I was still alive. By the grace of God, I still held a place on this earth.
I can never be certain, but I believe it was after I had had an opportunity to reflect on what I had written that the notion of writing a book took hold. There was a theme emerging from the ashes of my memory – and the name for that theme was “Hope”. It would become the centerpoint of all future memoir writings.
The idea: there are people out there struggling to survive. People who have lost hope, or are on the verge of losing hope. Maybe, if these people read what I went through – if I can survive all that I had gone through: all that I am going through, then maybe they can regain some hope for themselves.
Thank God for Denise
May 7, 2010 by brha99
Time is truly a curious phenomenon. Instances in your life when time seems to move so fast. I am sure you’ve said, or heard somebody say that they didn’t know where the time went…Time just flew by. Other circumstances dictate time to move at a snail’s pace. Sitting in a waiting room, hoping your name will be the next one called. It’s really quite individual. For me, I had no sense of time at all. Not of day. Not of night. I didn’t know when, or for that matter if people were visiting me, so the notion of them visiting for a long time was, …..inconsequential. I really thought that this period of hospice lasted 2 or 3 days. Two weeks had passed. Indeed, the drugs have done their job, all too well. I couldn’t visit with my wife. I couldn’t visit with my children, or grandchildren, or any friends that might happen by. Oh they were there. I just have no recollection of their visit. No, for all intent and purposes, I was already dead. The Xanax, the Oxycontin and the Morphine had put my brain to sleep. Well, Denise would have no more of this. She was fed up with this whole set up. Home hospice IS TOO HARD for the people left to care for the terminally ill. It is simply too hard. She gathered all the medicine. I mean everything. Then she got me into the truck and over to BAMC. (Brooke Army Medical Center) We were sitting in the office of my CHF Nurse. Denise poured all the pills on her desk and we had a frank discussion about hospice. Denise and I decided hospice was not for us. A basic tenant of hospice is to be alert and pain free. Well I was pain free, but the alert…not so much. At that visit, the cardiologist was brought in. We had him turn off the defibrillator. He and the CHF nurse agreed. If I am going to die, let me at least be coherent enough to enjoy my family during the last days. NO MORE PILLS! Well almost no more pills. The doctor talked me into keeping a couple of the heart meds. We didn’t know it then, but Denise had just saved my life.
Me a narcissist? Ask me again tomorrow
May 8, 2010 by brha99
The next several days were unremarkable. I was still stoned. I am pretty sure we are in October 2007. Apparently I had taken a lot of drugs. More even that I should have and it would take several days to regain a clear thought. Hey, but what the hell. I was dying! That gave me the right to behave pretty much any way I wanted to. Didn’t it? Well, DIDN”T IT? ….Wait a minute. When did I become such a narcissist? Me, me, me, me… It’s always about me. You know what I discovered? What I realized? What’s still true two years later? Right this very second even. I learned that you don’t die alone. I learned that perhaps the last gift you can give your family, the last gesture of love and kindness is that of an unselfish death. My wife Denise, our children, friends and other family have been riding this roller coaster right along with me. I am not the only one struggling. In fact, I am not doing much of anything except taking pills and lying around. Meanwhile, Denise is taking care of the house. Cooking, cleaning, paying the bills and taking care of me. On top of which, I’ve stressed everybody out. And not for just a moment. I’ve been stressing out the people I love and who love me for nearly 20 years. While at this point I am apparently still dying, I promised myself I will suck it up. When it’s painful I will meditate. When I am tired I’ll rest. Staying out of emergency rooms and avoiding drugs will be my new mantra. Hey, I am feeling better already. I think I am going to like this clear head stuff.
Mantras aren’t promises…. are they??
May 9, 2010 by brha99
Three weeks have passed since I left the hospice program. It was then, that a grim reminder of why I was in the program announced itself. Lying in the emergency room, I remembered my mantra. “No emergency rooms, no hospitalizations”. Mantras aren’t promises, right? I lie there thinking about that, and realizing how helpless I am to prevent these trips. “I was in end stage heart failure” the doctor proclaimed. He continued: “Looking at your medical history, there is really nothing we can do for you. You do know that you are dying”. For now, they admitted me into the hospital to pull some fluid off of me. This procedure is simple. They give me intra venous medicines, and I pee my brains out. Two days later, I was discharged. I was 20 pounds lighter. Over the next month or so, I would make several more trips like this. Each with the same result. When Christmas 2007 got here we were all surprised that I was still around to celebrate it. This Christmas was very special to me. I was alive to watch my family and friends enjoy the season. I was alive, at home for our traditional Christmas Eve celebration. I never expected to to be alive for Christmas. I was very happy. Each day I could be with my wife, family and friends would be a cherished and sacred day for me. Though I was still dying, I loved life, and will honor each day I am blessed to see.
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