Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The Doctor Becomes a Patient

A wonderful Christian gentleman had proposed to me and I accepted. A renaissance man--retired MD in family practice and aviation medicine, a gifted pianist who played the piano by ear since an early age. For three years he served our country in Europe where he also studied painting.

My third marriage would undoubtedly result in another widowhood. He was eleven years older than I was. I married for better, for worse, in sickness and in health, until death us do part. 

We had a sweet courtship and wedding. I took his last name, although it's hard to get it on this computer blogger site. We honeymooned in Nashville. The marriage would be too short by most standards.

Oh we did say,

Neither one of us has dementia.
Neither one of us has heart trouble.
Neither one of us has cancer.

You can't be your own doctor, he said, and so he got a doctor, Dr. Jeffrey G.--they had been each other's doctors throughout the years. Dr. G and I would text each other for the next months which included telling Dr. G what place room my sweetheart was in. 

I stopped substitute teaching to
care for Chuck.  
More often than not sleeping on a recliner 
or cot in my husband's room.
A trip to the hospital via ambulance October 12.
Hospice in our apartment and he can't walk. 
Another hospital trip and blood clots in lungs.
Investigating places for rehab and 
maybe my staying with him.
A nursing home where I could sleep on a recliner
after first horrible night--room 403, our "Honeymoon Suite".
A trip back to the hospital for gall bladder surgery
after his vomiting. 

Dramatically as Dr. Chuck was about to leave MICU for surgery, the surgery was called off because of his breathing. We called in the elders of our church to pray. I figured that we needed PALLATIVE CARE in our journey and thought of starting a Christian Pallative Care group, called, "Bowels of Mercy". 

The optimist that I am I decided if he could just walk again we could get back to our apartment. People would help and I could have more days with my wonderful husband. I had not read the article, "Why Doctors Die Differently". 

We were admitted back to 403, our Honeymoon Suite saved for us at the nursing home. He recognized it and had a smile on his face when we got there. I settled in sure that things would work out, even  though a Palliative Care hospital doctor said he had maybe 6 months to live. 

November 27 my brother came to stay with Dr. Chuck. I went to lunch, got my hair cut and went home to shower and get new clothes. 

The next morning. It was not unusual for Chuck to awaken at 2 am and need pain medicine. I got the nurse to administer it to him. I helped him use his urinal as I often did. We talked. He said,

So where do we go from here?
I replied, 
We take one day at a time.

About 4 am I said that I was really tired and did he mind that I sleep?

A little before 6 am, someone from the facility where we were staying came in and woke me up to inform me that we had to call hospice. 

We don't want hospice. We want palliative 
care after he learns to walk again. Please be quiet.
He may hear you. He IS NOT DYING.

But it was true. A little after 6 am I watched his chest move no more. He had breathed his last breath. How could I be so mistaken? I guess I just wanted a happier ending. 

But a diagnosis of AAA or abdominal aortic aneurysm seven years earlier for my doctor husband, Dr. Chuck,  retired MD  loomed. I read that rupture may result in pain in the abdomen or back, low blood pressure, or loss of consciousness.

The other day I went to Dr. G's office for answers. I asked him if Chuck knew he was dying on a note his nurse delivered to him. Dr. G texted back to me,

I think that he did know. He grasped the fact
that on the one hand he had to be anti-coagulated
for blood clots, yet if the aneurysm ever
ruptured while his blood was thinned, it
would be fatal.

The last song I heard my husband play on the piano, was Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus. Chuck was now with Jesus. 

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