Posted by: From Arkansas in It Ain't Sorted, So What on Jan 04 2009
Off The Cuff is my wife’s first blog. It’s been a place where she had a lot to say about the things going on in the world these days. The topics she covered here ranged far and wide from the idiocy that comprised a nearly two year long presidential campaign and the election of the absolutely wrong person for the job to some of the idiotic and dangerous things people manage to do while driving or people just plain getting a raw deal in some way. She also managed to find the lighter side of things and injected her own special brand of humor in a lot of the posts she wrote here. Sadly, this is the last entry to be posted here.
This is so incredibly hard for me to write, so please forgive me if it’s more broken rambling than anything else.
My wife Lura went to be with the Lord last Tuesday, Dec 30 2008 at a little after 4:30pm central time.
I still can’t believe it’s true, I keep expecting to wake up from some nightmare induced by trying to sleep in the impossibly uncomfortable accommodations that White River Medical Center in Batesville provides for the family member who is staying with the patient. I suppose they might be passable for most people but I haven’t slept lying down for years because of sleep apnea (and before you mention it, I cannot tolerate CPAP, I’ve tried it.) and back pain, trying to achieve the sleeping position that I need was nearly impossible and always painful, never very restful. I didn’t get a lot of sleep and less rest.
She had fallen in a parking lot a few days before Thanksgiving when her cane slipped out from under her as she walked around the back of the car. She wrote several posts about that and a lot of what happened afterward on her blog “Off The Cuff” ( http://offthecuff.lurasbookcase.com/ ) and more posts on another of her blogs, “Window Shopper” ( http://shopper.purrfectdomains.com/ ) and in her last post on her Christian blog “God’s Topshelf” ( http://godstopshelf.com/ )
Even though she had hardly been scratched and as a hospital trip a few days later confirmed, had not broken anything, it caused her incredible amounts of pain. A couple days after that, along with the expected bruising, blisters started to appear about halfway between her left knee and ankle. The entire area was very painful and sensitive to touch. I had to “tent” the covers over the area so that nothing would touch it.
She ended up being taken care of mostly by me along with the folks from the home health care place who came out to check on her, take pics of the bruise and blisters.
The doctor had decided it was cellulitis and she was treated with antibiotics and strong painkillers. hydrocodone to start with and when that proved not enough, two 15mg MS Contin (morphine sulfate) pills a day. Other than that the only thing to be done was keep the leg elevated because of the risk of her having another blood clot like the one that she’d had last august. She didn’t have one at the time though, they checked for that when they took the xrays looking for breaks.
By the beginning of the 2nd week of December the home health nurse said she thought the blisters looked a lot worse and she took another set of pictures to show the doctor. Once he’d seen them he said that Lura needed to be in the hospital right away to get it looked at and treated.
On the 11th or 12th (It’s kinda blurred to me and I’m not sure of the exact day right now.), we called an ambulance to transport her to the hospital because getting her into the car to drive there would have been entirely too difficult and painful for her. Because the ambulance could not allow me to ride along with her because of something about their insurance and there wouldn’t have been enough room for me and what I had to bring along, my brother drove me to the hospital after they left.
Note: on top of all this, at that same time I had been dealing with crippling migraines and severe jaw pain for a couple of weeks or more and had a very difficult time with nearly everything because of them.
When I got to the hospital she was just arriving at the ER, after a seemingly interminable time for examinations and tests, they admitted her and we moved up to the PCU (progressive care unit).
I think it was the next day they took her to surgery. They had to not just open the blisters but it was necessary to clean out some dead and infected tissue. They applied something called a “Wound VAC” which is basically a vacuum pump that kept the wound (about 2 inches deep and 6 inches across) drained. I can’t tell you how much I hated seeing that hose coming out of the plastic taped to her leg, almost as much as I hated seeing that wound.
They then proceeded to take her back to surgery about every couple of days to check the wound, clean out any more dead tissue they could find and replace the wound VAC. The surgeon was actually pleased with how the procedures went as well as the progress she was making. Each trip to surgery had less junk to remove and they were satisfied that she was beginning to heal.
We both found it frustrating that no matter what, it was expected to be a long process with as much as three or four weeks in the hospital with these surgeries going on before they thought that she might have progressed far enough to go home and back to home health care. It’s also true that because she was diabetic (technically anyway, more borderline than anything) the healing was expected to be slower than for other people. I was told that complete healing and recovery would probably take as long as a year and a half.
By Sunday Dec 28th, I finally needed to go home for at least a day to do some laundry, clean up, get some real sleep and tend to a few household things. I had nearly become a walking zombie due to lack of sleep and a list of aches and pains to long to mention. Despite this very real need, I hated the idea of leaving her there by herself even for a single day because there were things that I was trying to help with that the nursing staff, good hearted though they were for the most part, were just too busy to be as quick to do certain things as she needed.
By the time I got home it was obvious that I was more than just sore and tired, I had come down with a rather nasty intestinal flu complete with a 100 degree + fever, chills and what I call “Explosive Diarrhea”. Needless to say, my one day stop at home got extended by several days.
I kept in touch by phone and she was continuing to do better. By Tuesday I felt better enough that I expected to return to the hospital Wednesday. I spoke to her on the phone that morning. She was tired but otherwise feeling good. She was scheduled for another surgery late that afternoon / evening.
A few minutes after 4pm I got a phone call from the charge nurse. Lura had been out of bed to use the bedside commode. They were helping her back to bed when she complained of being dizzy and collapsed. She told me that they had intubated her and were moving her to ICU.
I made two phone calls to inform family and put in a prayer request for her. When I hung up the phone from the second call, the phone immediately rang. (this was roughly half an hour after the first call) I saw the caller ID was the hospital and expected it to be the charge nurse again with an update. My blood ran cold when I found out it was a doctor, they never call patient’s relatives themselves, they have their office staff do it. I knew this couldn’t possibly be good news.
He told me that she had she had coded for 30 minutes and they were not able to revive her. He said how sorry he was to have to tell me this and the rest of what he said faded into a blur as I hung up to make the same two calls I had earlier to tell them this impossible news.
The next day when I went to the hospital to pick up her things I spoke to the charge nurse that had called me. She told me (sounding like she had been present for most of it) that Lura had regained consciousness for a minute or two after she fell and was awake and talking. Her heart was going slower and slower until she finally lost consciousness again and they started CPR.
I haven’t seen or heard anything official about the cause but the rest of the family and I have what I think is a reasonable theory. While in the hospital she had to be taken off of the blood thinner she was on because of the central line they had put in, the repeated surgeries and the wound itself. Combine that with the fact that she’d already had a blood clot in her leg last summer and was at high risk for developing them and it is very probable that a new blood clot had formed and very likely had broken loose when she fell.
I know that she did not suffer other than the pain and embarrassment of falling, especially in that situation. She hated falling and it was something that she frequently was worried about, especially since she had the DVT last August.
I’ll be posting this story on a few email lists and forums that she participated in and on her MySpace and Facebook pages. I will also post it on all of her blogs after which I do not expect to ever post on any of them again with one exception.
She has an enormous amount of Bible study notes that she has written over the years, a lot of which she had intended to use to write either Articles for her Christian ministry page “Lura’s Bookcase” or her Christian blog “God’s Topshelf”. Because I know she wanted this stuff posted I intend to keep those notes and as I go over them, post them on God’s Topshelf.
I’ll be doing it partly as a memorial to her but mostly out of respect for the fact that she wanted to reach the unbelievers as well as help believers, especially new Christians, learn and grown in The Lord and His will. She knew that we are living in the last days and fully expected the days of tribulation foretold in Revelation and the soon return of Jesus the Anointed One.
She also would not want me to sit and waste away in mourning and grief. Rather, she would prefer that I continue her (and my own) work in the Lord and reach as many as possible while there is still time.
Another reason for doing this is that over recent years my own efforts in this regard have fallen victim to many, many distractions, problems and even laziness that seem to flow like raging river through the need to get so many things done. Therefore I think that it’s reasonable to make an effort to at least set aside a few hours a week to be dedicated to getting back to doing the work that God has set for me to do.
I sincerely hope, pray and believe that her writings will touch the lives of many, bring the unbeliever to accept Jesus and bring Christians to a greater knowledge of Him and His Love and will.
I would also ask that when you speak of me and this situation, that you not say things like, “he lost his wife”. I have not lost her at all. I know exactly where she is and that I will see her again. Her pain is ended forever, mine will fade with time (a lot of it I think) and life will (*MUST*) go on.
As long as this is, there is much still left unsaid, however I have spent nearly the entire day writing this and my heart and mind are nearly spent for the day. It has been, without doubt, the hardest thing I have ever had to write yet it had to be written. She would have done no less.
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