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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Summertime, LB and Baseball

Friday July 15, found my Lovely Bride and me with our BFFs Jim and Flo (no, not the insurance lady Flo) five rows behind home plate.  Being a beautiful Summer evening with mild temperatures, and gentle on-shore breezes it was a perfect night for baseball.
As we relaxed (as much as one can in hard plastic seats) heckling opposing batters and pitchers, my thoughts drifted back to exactly one year ago...

You see, it had been 5 days since LB’s heart attack. The circumstances were bleak. Since we are talkin’ baseball, one could say she was in the bottom of the 9th, down by one run, 2 outs with a 3-2 count.  LB was in a very, very serious state.

The “pop” of a fastball connecting with the catcher’s mitt brought me back to the present. Apparently, the majority of fans disagreed with the ump’s call, judging from the chorus of cat-calls and boos. I glanced at my watch; 7:50 P.M.

My thoughts immediately whisked me back to a cramped “Family Consultation Room” at our local hospital which was within eyesight of the ballpark. 

 There, seated about the little room were our two daughters, one of our sons-in-laws, BFF Flo, and our son and daughter-in-law on speaker phone.
We were meeting “Dr. Idiot”, the half-baked (or half something else, your choice) neurologist for a “where do we go next” chat.

My recollections and notes from that day indicate that LB was wakeful and responsive in the morning. I don’t recall just how she was responding; only that she was. We anxiously awaited the report and pronouncement based upon his earlier evaluation.

This particular doctor has the warmth, charm, and charisma of a deceased carp washed up on Lake Erie’s shore.  With that in mind, the reader will have a much better grasp and feel for the ensuing conversation.
I could go into details about LB’s condition at that time. I could go into minute details regarding her treatments up to this point. But, I won’t; primarily due to None-Ya Regulations and protocols. Suffice it to say she was in the bottom of the 9th, down by one run, 2 outs with a 3-2 count and needed a walk or a safe hit.

Calls of “Heads Up!” filled my ears as a foul ball caromed off the railings of a loge.  Things settled down in the seats. I asked LB if she wanted anything, and we discussed the game. We were both somewhat dismayed by the opponents 2 run homer. It was painfully apparent our starting pitcher had quickly gotten into trouble. With no action in the bullpen; it was going to be a long start. In fact, the poor kid gave up 6 runs in 3 innings.

There we were, listening as this bespectacled slight man explained the extent of the neurological injury and damage she had sustained.  Questions were asked, text book answers given-all to our utter dis-satisfaction.  He rather rudely explained how there had been no appreciable progress and she had failed the apnea test for the second time.

Dr. Idiot discussed a “life” spend in very long-term, very intensive extended care facilities; being kept alive by machines, and fed through gastric tubes. A life with no response or very minimal interaction was facing us.
As softly as he could deliver it the message was clear- we need to strongly consider ending life support.

Fortunately, our daughter Shannon had spent a great many hours researching studies involving other patients in similar situations as LB. While the evidence was not numerically large, statistically it as very compelling. People who were given a couple more days to recover prior to any drastic measures being taken had a very high survival and recover rate.

He reinforced his position by stating there is no possibility of LB ever recovering to independent neurological function.

While we were at odds with one another, I told the man no decisions would be made until after the weekend. That was on Wednesday evening…

A commotion at the plate drew my attention. Our catcher took a foul tip to his knee, above the shin guard. All eyes were upon the young man curled in the red dirt, the trainer crouched above him as members of both teams looked on.  The announcers had even stopped their constant chatter. After several minutes, he was helped to his feet, and limped toward the dugout to the applause of the crowd.

On Thursday the 16th, another apnea test was performed. I was by LB’s side coaching her to breath in, breath out, in-out; after three inhalations she was on her own. No ventilator machine! She had a man on base!

Later that evening, her very good, competent cardiologist performed a very successful heart catheterization. She had an RBI triple; the score was now tied!

Friday the 17th, after more than 24 hours without needing the ventilator, the tube was removed. After 7 days, she could open and close her mouth, speak a few words, smile and laugh.  It was shortly after that when I leaned over her bed, stroked LB’s hair and said “I love you.” A whispered “I love you.” brought more joy to me than words can ever express.

The Captains dropped their 9th in a row.
LB continues her winning streak.

1 comment:

  1. This is a wonderful piece. Your skill for writing and dedication to family is so evident.