The tragic truth is this: you need a system to fail in order to die. Head, heart, lungs, another major organ, just one needs to stop and its over.
Dad K has a strong heart. His head injury affects his consciousness, not his bodily function. We thought his lungs would fail since he'd just had a raging pneumonia. However...he was intubated, which means there's a trach tube attached to his neck. It no longer connects to the ventilator, but it allows us to suction off fluid when it builds up and he begins to 'gurgle'. Each night since Wednesday we were convinced it would be the last, but we kept suctioning him. Making him comfortable. He's on a morphine drip, but no food or water. While it's true that all the machines were preventing his death rather than preserving his life, and it's true that the dying process can take time, we've been racking our brains to figure out why Dad is still alive. Is there a voice he needs to hear? Unfinished business? Have we done the wrong thing?
Jrex figured it out yesterday. With all his cancer patients, the fluid filled their lungs, they began to gurgle and they were gone within 48 hours. In our efforts to make things better, we've allowed all three major systems to continue to function at their optimum levels. The lack of fluid even has the effect of drying up the pnuemonia. His pastor saw him last night and said to Mom K, "Oh, he's off the feeding tube?! That's good. Now he can eat. I knew he was recovering."
There's plenty of tragedy to go around in all this: being in a unit without a hospice protocol, Mom not being able to tell her church what is going on, my niece having to watch us all coming and going from the hospital, Jrex having to tell yet another resident that he is an oncologist and we're all fine with the morphine level. My own personal tragedy is that I can't stay here any longer. The latest I could go back to work would be Thursday morning. We have a sales pitch on Friday where they specifically want to discuss the development of creative look and feel (which would be me). At the first pitch we made a big deal about the team they see is the team they get. If Dad had died last night, I'd have stayed through Thursday, but at this rate, I wouldn't be able to be here for the funeral anyway.
My creative director is relieved. My mother-in-law understands. My husband is supportive. I'm just really sad to go. (though I'll be honest and say that I'm more relieved than I can say that this next visit to the hospital will be my last! I really, really hate that vent unit.)
Tomorrow I'm hoping to post photos from today's fashion show! Jrex and his Mom stayed in the hospital while I went into the city to visit Swallowflight and check out Manhattan.