Ok, this is when it’s hard.
Right now. As I write this. I did that.
However, God was merciful and did not make me say it.
A doctor had come to me earlier in the day and she told me bluntly and what I thought then and still think now as heartlessly….”he’s not getting better!”.
That’s when the mention of a DNR order first came up. The nurses in the ICU unit where well used to such an order…it happens all the time.
But for me, it was a first. I had been appointed by my husband a few months earlier as the only one to make such a decision. But while she talked to me..I stood and looked at her. She went on and on while I thought about her…she looked no older than my daughter…who was 22. I wondered if this pseudo doctor knew what she was talking about. She continued on to tell me about the organs that belonged to Mike’s body shutting down…”he’s isn’t tolerating our feedings.”
She continued on, while I noticed that it was very uncomfortable because we were in Mike’s room and he most certainly could hear her diatribe of death is approaching. I was so exhausted by then I guess I didn’t bother to take her outside the room. After all she seemed bent on a mission..and I was just waiting on God to perform His miracle that would save my life…..or the life of my husband.
As she continued on I just looked at her…finally she finished. I could not tell you all of what she said. But she did finally stop her yammering at me. While I looked at her, she started to stammer…”what, what’, what are you thinking?” she asked me. I thought about what she asked and back then and to this day I admit I was not thinking anything….no thought was in my mind at all. In actuality that was a rare phenomenon as my mind never shuts off. It did then.
Eventually I sat down in the cold hard plastic chair that they kindly provided for me. And the doctor stopped talking.
She continued to stand at the door for a few minutes more.
She then said, “I’m sorry. You’re so strong…..”
I just looked at her then thinking you have no idea how weak I am woman/doctor as you are breaking my heart and stabbing it with the biggest, blackest fear I’ve ever known in my life. But if you want to think my non-reaction is strength..more power to you. I continued to just look at her until she grew uncomfortable.
She then fidgeted a bit, and what I knew to be highly unusual behavior and probably not hospital policy, she ran toward me and hugged me..and said, “take care.”
Okey dokey I thought.
I turned and looked at Mike to see if he had heard. To see if she was right. To see if he was done. To see if he was dying. To see if I had to step up and do my duty as his executor of his advanced directive. I didn’t get an answer. Instead I left the room.
I went and found my daughter Gabrielle. I grabbed her hand with no words attached and brought her to the hallway that was more of a walkway. I directed her to a place that had sunshine and light. Something that was by that time foreign to me as I had spent almost 4 months in a hospital off and on with Mike. I told her what the doctors had relayed to me.
Then I told her that, “it suddenly occurs to me that I do not have the strength to order the DNR. That dad and I were optimistically wrong when we both thought when the time came that I’d be able to order do not resuscitate for him.. I cannot do it.” I told her.
I left the building and went to sit in my car. I called my, at that time…and since..my only friend Alina and told her what the doctor had said to me.
She responded, “Mike will tell you in a big way, if he’s done. Mike will tell you if it’s time to let go.”
As I sat in my car outside the Veteran’s Hospital, outside the building where Mike and I had thought finally we get some treatment..finally someone listens…finally someone cares…I realized that Alina was right. Mike would tell me if he was ready to let go.
But I also realized that Mike had been telling me that for about a day, maybe two…and I wasn’t willing to accept it.
It was an extraordinarily long, long, long day that day, the 3rd of the month. I didn’t sleep. I don’t think anyone else who cared about Mike slept either…and by that time it had whittled down to 7 or 8 people. Me being one of them…Gabrielle my daughter being another.
One of Mike’s son being yet a third. Alina, Teresa, Tom and Robert and yes, my brother. Who oddly I have not heard from since just after the funeral. They were all in attendance at my bequest or at the heartfelt need to help me through the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Or out of love. Love for my husband Mike..and consideration for me.
Mike didn’t die that night.
No, my struggle and fear and denial screamed loudly at me during that night.
And no one slept that night….as I always say, there’s plenty of time to sleep when I’m dead. Of course, I don’t say that anymore, but I used to say it. That sarcastic comment has changed it’s meaning for me. I just don’t say it anymore.