Sunday, October 25, 2009

My Uncle

Forgive me if I mistype something or spell words wrong in this post. I'm typing kinda fast because this is hard to write and I figure it I just do it quickly, it'll be easier to get out.

On Tuesday, my uncle (my moms brother) had a massive heart attack. It took the paramedics 30 minutes to get there. His wife tried to do CPR on him until they got there. One paramedic came out and told her that he was gone for her to call his doctor. Then the other paramedic came out and said they she brought him back. They were saying he was without oxygen for about an hour.

They got to the hospital and did surgery to fix his heart which went fine and then he went to ICU. They cooled his body way down, I'm not exactly sure why, and kept him in a coma. The Dr.s run tests on his brain to see what kind of brain damage he had from being w/o oxygen for so long but that it would be 48 hours before they would know anything.

They kept running tests on him and said it didn't look good at all. That if he lived, he wouldn't be the same. The Dr said part of his brain was severly altered. He'd also somehow gotten a staph infection in his nose from one of the tubes in the hospital.

On Friday my niece turned 8 years old so we were having a little party for her when my sister got a call from another Uncle. Everyone had been trying to reach us. My Aunt and my Grandma both called him and tried to tell him but he couldn't make out what they were trying to say because they were so upset they couldn't talk. They said something about he's brain dead and at 1%.

We didn't really know what that meant until later that night when he called back and said that he was definately brain dead and only 1% of his brain is functioning. They were going to pull the plug the next morning.

He was an organ donor so the Dr.s run some tests to make sure all his organs were well enough to take. There's actually a man at Church who only has a few months to live unless he gets a liver transplant so my family called him to make sure he was on the list so he could have my Uncles liver.

It turned out that none of his organs could be used because of both the staph infection and the lack of oxygen for so long. They said that it wasn't worth taking his organs because there was only a 45% chance that they wouldn't be rejected by the recipients body. I hope that makes sense because it was really hard to put it into words.

Anyway, they unplugged him yesterday morning, everybody was there to say goodbye. Well, just the closest family, Mother, Father, wife, sisters, brother, children. My sister went the night before. I didn't go because 1. I didn't want to see him like that, 2. I wasn't that close to him, I only saw him maybe once a year, and 3. No one under the age of 18 is allowed in the hospital right now because of the swine flu thing and there wasn't anyone to watch the kids for me. Hubby had to go to work that night.

They knew he wouldn't die immediately because the 1% of his brain that was working was his brain stem which caused him to be able to breath and made his heart beat. The Dr.s fixed his heart so it was working good. It was just his brain that wasn't working.

I didn't know any of this BTW until last night about 8:30. I assumed he was already gone. My sister called me and said they unplugged him at 8am and he was still alive 12 hours later. And that it could be another 12 hours or 3 days, they didn't know since he was able to breathe.

I hadn't cried at all up until then. It sucked thats for sure but I hadn't cried. After my sister told me that I waited until everyone went to bed last night and I cried. They had him unhooked from everything. No oxygen, no medicine, nothing. I know that's what "unplugged" means but since he was able to breathe, I thought What if that 1% of him thats still here can feel something. What if he's paralyzed and he cant speak or move but he's in pain? That upset me a lot. My mom had assured my sister that his mind was gone and he couldn't feel anything because she had the same concerns as I did. But it still didn't keep me from worrying about it. Who knows what that feels like. I mean, when someone gets unplugged, how can they know that the patient doesn't feel anything. They can't speak, or move, they die. They can't tell you they're in pain. Nobody can know. I can just pray that God was with him and comforted him the whole time. Maybe he was already gone and was watching everyone else that was around him. That's all I can hope for.

I didn't hear anything else until this morning. I went all night wondering if he had died yet. My mom called this morning and said that her, his wife, his 2 stepchildren (his 2 real kids didn't want to see him when he died so they left) my grandparents, and my aunt were all there when he died. The nurse had come in and said that it could be anytime and my mom looked at him while everyone else was looking at the nurse or each other. She saw him take his last breath and she said that was it. He took his last breath and everyone looked at him, and my mom walked out and the nurse asked her "is he gone?"and my mom said yes. I don't think anyone else saw it but my mom. The Drs knew it was coming because they were already suited up outside the door but she was the only one to see him breathe for the last time. It was 10:02 pm EST on October 24th.

She said it was peaceful though. She said if I could have seen him, I'd know that he wasn't in any pain. It just looked like he was sleeping. I guess they had all done their crying all week long because they were peaceful when it happened. I guess we knew it was coming and it's just good it's over. I would've hated to see him stay alive but not be able to live, ya know? I'd rather know he's in a better place than to think of him laying in a bed the rest of his life being hooked up to tubes. It's still hard though. Even though I wasn't real close to him, I still love him. He's my family and I'll miss him. I'll always remember him picking on me when I was little. He's in Heaven with his son, Ryan that died when he was 4 months old. He'd be over 20 years old now.

Here's a picture of the last time I saw my Uncle. It was last year at my Grandparents 50th wedding anniversary. I don't even remember if I spoke to him that day. If I did, I can't remember what it was. He was 50 years old when he died by the way.