It is with much sadness that I write this final post concerning my wife, Karen. Yesterday at 5:36 pm, she left this world for her new home in Paradise with our Saviour. With that, I have lost my wonderful traveling companion, one of the world’s best moms and grandma, and my wife of almost 20 years. My heart is heavy with grief, but I know she is in a wonderful place where she will never feel pain again.
Yesterday morning, I arrived at the hospital early as I was told on the previous evening that her kidney doctors would likely be in early. After a meager 3-4 hours of sleep (quantity was less than hoped for, but the quality was good), I awoke, showered and drove to the hospital. After talking to the kidney doctors, I learned that her kidneys still had not started functioning, and they still were unable to get a reaction when they peered into her eyes with a flashlight. All this information was disturbing as it seemed to be telling the doctors that she likely had brain damage from the estimated 40 minutes cumulative time of blood not being circulated to her brain and organs, when her enlarged heart had gone into a very rapid, but shallow beating.
About an hour later, the head nurse for Karen’s critical care approached myself and Karen’s daughter. She told us that Karen’s blood pressure, which had been slowly decreasing for some time, had suddenly started dropping very rapidly and that a decision on whether to resuscitate or not would be needed very shortly. As we were waiting for her son to arrive at the hospital, we instructed the nurse to apply CPR as needed, until he showed up. Within 5 minutes, a Resuscitate Response Team was assembled and began CPR, as Karen’s heart had stopped. They were able to get the heart beating again and no further efforts were needed before her son arrived. We then instructed the nurse that, with an apparent neurological condition to the brain, to not conduct any additional resuscitation effort.
We also learned that Karen’s sister and her twin brothers (and spouses for each) were on their way from Minnesota. Fortunately, they all arrived before we would be asked if we wanted to again resuscitate Karen. In fact, Karen remained with us until 5:36 pm, when she left us for the final time.
In accordance with what we all felt Karen would want to do, we had earlier called in the local organ donor organization to discuss potential organ harvesting. We all knew that Karen, being such a kind and giving person (in fact, we saw that she had indicated herself as a donor on her driver’s license), would want to live on by helping others. Unfortunately, the only potential organ that the donor organization felt might be an option, was Karen’s liver. Her heart was not acceptable (enlarged, and very weak). Her kidneys were not acceptable (still not functioning). With the onset of pulmonary infection, the lungs were also not acceptable. And to even consider using Karen’s liver, they would have had to aggressively treat Karen with more drugs and keep her alive for another 24-48 hours. All the family felt this was more than Karen and the family could endure, with such little chance of using a single organ.
However, we had an option of possibly using Karen’s eyes and tissues to help others. And there would be no need for further drugs needed. So we all agreed that this would be what Karen would want to do.
With Karen giving us all an extended time to be with her, we all were able to spend some quality time beside her bed with her. As Karen left us, I kissed her and softly spoke to her, while holding her hand. “I love you. You have left me with many wonderful memories. I will see you again one day.”
Did we have a perfect marriage? No, but is there such a thing? Did we have the same interests? Yes, and no. Being individuals, we both had our own likes. While I loved watching the KC Royals and KC Chiefs, she would rather find a knitting or crocheting show to watch. But where we really came together was our love for family, traveling and for being in nature. I will never forget experiencing watching her pet a baby gray whale from one side of our Mexican ponga (small fishing boat), as she looked to me with a big smile on her face, as she watched me petting the same whale on the other side of the boat. Or watching her ride a mule up a mountainside in Baja, Mexico, where we witnessed age-old cave drawings. I could go on and on, but I won’t put you through that. I think that by now you have the picture. Our experiences could fill a book … probably a multi-volume one, at that. We were both blessed to be able to witness firsthand what others can only see on tv.
As you might imagine, I’m grieving right now, and I need some time alone. I plan on trying to get caught up with responding to each of the wonderful, loving comments and best wishes/prayers that so many have shared with me. I appreciate everyone’s kindness to Karen and me during our recent issues. I truly have regained a wonderful insight into how wonderful people can really be to each other, in our seemingly broken world.
I stand by my words, “I’ll see you again one day”.
Note: A memorial service will be scheduled for a little later in July (most likely), when family members have returned from scheduled vacations and other conflicts. If you are reading this and are one of Karen’s many personal friends, and would like notice of the service, please e-mail me at: showmenaturepix@hotmail and I will put you on a list to be notified when we schedule the service.