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Friday, October 23, 2015

Uchol's death

It's been nearly 3 months since Uchol died. I'm still figuratively bleeding, but it's no longer a hemorrhage. I can write about it now.

The last few weeks, he'd been acting oddly. I just thought he was sick, I didn't know it was serious. He was always weak and tired. Every few days he'd look at me with fear in his eyes and say, "I may have to go to the emergency room today." But he wouldn't.

I was really worried about him that last week, because he had me go shopping alone, and didn't want to go anywhere. He had a doctor appointment coming up and I was hoping to get some answers. Uchol didn't like me to go into the doctor's office with him - he had me sit out in the waiting room. He didn't like that I interrupted him talking to the doctor. I never thought I was interrupting, just asking questions. But I humored him.

Saturday, August 1, we had been intending to go to the local science fiction convention. Uchol didn't feel up to it, and I didn't want to go alone. About 10 in the morning, he said he had to go to the emergency room and called an ambulance. After he left, I did a little puttering around the house and ate some breakfast. Then I went on to UNM hospital, taking his phone and Kindle. He was upset that I hadn't followed the ambulance, but frankly, he's gone to the hospital in one so often it felt kind of routine. I took knitting and something to read, and settled down for the day.

Eventually I had to get food. When I came back, Uchol was in deep conversation with what was probably a male nurse, who turned to me and said that this was just a routine question, but had we talked about whether or not he wanted to be on life support. I gave the nurse a hard look, and he quickly said that they asked this of everyone who came into the emergency room. I knew this was not true. They had never mentioned this before, and we'd been in an emergency room about 10 times.

Later after the nurse left, Uchol started trying to teach me how to use his fancy cell phone. He never wanted me to mess with it before. I just told him, "Oh, sweetie, I'll never remember this. Let's do it some other time."

At around 6 pm I said, "Could I go home? I'm pretty tired." We kissed goodbye and I went home.

How I wish I had just stayed the night. I never saw him conscious again.

The next morning at 5 am, I got a call from the hospital telling me to get there as quickly as I could. So I did. They had Uchol sedated and intubated, and said he was bleeding in his abdomen and they were going to take him down for some tests, to see if they could stop the bleeding. I stayed holding his hand until they came to get him, then went to get some coffee. I got the coffee and sat down outside, and my phone rang. I don't remember what they said exactly but it was to the effect that something had gone horribly wrong. I ran for the room, and got there as the medics were wheeling him back in, doing CPR. Let me tell you, in real life it's a hell of a lot more violent than when you see it in a TV show. I got out of the way and collapsed into a chair by the wall, and just waited, crying, in horror. He still had the tubes in his throat, and blood came out his mouth around them every time the nurse pumped his chest.

They got his heart started again, and warned me that he'd have broken ribs from the CPR, that people always did. I asked what happened, and they said that on the way to the test, his blood pressure just crashed and his heart stopped.

I had just enough time to relax, thinking he'd be okay, when his heart stopped again. They started CPR again, harder this time, and more blood came out his mouth. At this point one of the doctors asked me, "How long ago did his doctor tell him he had three months left to live because of his liver?"

Stunned, I gaped at him and said "What?" The doctor looked at my horrified face and went away.

They kept going on the CPR for a long time while I stood, sobbing. I knew it wasn't going to do any good. Finally I went over and said to the doctor, "You're not going to get him back this time, are you?" He said, "No." After a few minutes he said, "You can stop this." So I told them to stop, then wedged myself into a corner and sobbed. Behind me, they disconnected everything and gave him medication so that he wouldn't be in any pain at the end.

Later nurses came in and cleaned him up so I could say goodbye.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Marla, I'm glad you are going to write and share your memoirs. What a horrific day, with being unaware of how sick Uchol was. What a horrible shock you had. I'm so sorry. As you said, thank goodness for your friends, your church family, and your cats. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Thanks for coming to Lindsborg to attend our class reunion and Hyllningsfest. It was a time to remember - and perfect weather. Keep writing. - Naomi