On March 5, 2009 my husband and a friend went snowmobiling...one of Tom's favorite past times. There was nothing unusual about this except the phone call at 5:15 that afternoon. It was Jason saying Tom had somehow flipped his sled and they were airlifting him to the hospital. I really thought they were kidding around trying to play a joke on me.. BAD JOKE!! But, as he talked I realized he wasn't joking...my comment to him was "You aren't freaking kidding me are you?" What a comment. Jason kept reassuring me Tom was awake and responsive. Those words were of some comfort...I just needed to get to the hospital to see for myself. Our 13 yr old son and I couldn't get to the hospital fast enough!

When they let me see him in the ER he was awake and alert...but, in so much pain. He had a broken clavical, many broken ribs (no one could ever tell me how many), and a punctured lung. He had xrays and ct scan and had tubes put in his side to drain fluid out of his chest. We were told the tubes would be in there for a few days so we thought we'd stay the weekend and probably be home in 4 or 5 days..no biggie.

Well, that was not to be. He stayed in the hospital for 11 days. I stayed with him day and night. I went home only a few times to shower and then back again. During Tom's stay he was trasferred from the trauma floor where he was originally admitted to a step down cardiac unit where he spent most of his time...he had to have thorascopic surgery on the 8th day to clear out some fluid in his chest and new tubes put in. I remember telling him before he went into surgery that I loved him and to "stay away from the light". He was put in the cardiac ICU on a breathing machine after surgery for that night and the next day but, he came off the machine and was doing well. This whole time in the hospital he was awake, alert, eating and walking a little.The day after coming off the breathing tube he was moved back to the step down unit and walked there by himself...the longest walk yet. He was doing well. There was never any concern that he wouldn't be coming home. We were told he just needed time to heal.

During this time I think he had to be the most popular patient. He had one nurse in particular that would come and visit him even when he wasn't her scheduled patient...they would harass each other about everything. And he had so many visitors...not just family but, all of his friends. He worked for the railroad so there were lots of railroad guys coming and going. That was so nice to have that support.

On day 11 he was in a lot of pain more so than he had been the past few days...it didn't help that the nurse that was on messed up his medication routine. So, before I went home to shower (now, of course I wish I had stayed the whole day just to make sure he was comfortable) I had told her what he should be getting at what time and made sure she gave it to him before I left figuring I'd be back by the time the next dose was due. Of course, I was running behind and missed his med dose by an hour. When I got back to his room he was still in pain and other than taking meds he wouldn't let either nurse (early shift and afternoon shift) touch him. He wanted to wait till I got back to have his bandages changed. At 4:50 that afternoon we sat him up to change his bandages and he started massively bleeding out the side of his chest tubes. Luckily, the thoracic team was right outside his room and they came running in. They called for OR and anesthesia...they called for code once but, never needed it. The whole time all this was going on Tom had his own pulse and blood pressure and was breathing on his own. They would say, "Tom, you still with us" and he'd reply "Yup". He did at one point have a seizure...he grabbed the sheets and arched his back and let out a primal yell and the surgeon told me that was a seizure but, it was quick and he was right back to being him. As scary as it was I wasn't worried...they let me stay in the room the whole time they were working on him. I do remember someone saying to me that he didn't have a DNR and I told her, "that's right and he WILL NOT have one...you are to do everything possible to make him better." They rushed him off to the OR...I followed along. We parted at the OR doors and he still had his own blood pressure, pulse and breathing on his own ...I never said "I Love you" or "stay away from the light" or anything...we did make eye contact at the elevator but, that was the last time I saw him.

During surgery (this time they actually had to open him up) something went terribly wrong. The doctor sent someone to tell me he wasn't doing well and was critical. I just told them to get back in there and do all they could to get him better...don't stop...nothing can happen to him. They went back for awhile and came back again telling us it wasn't looking good. I kept telling them they had to keep trying...our girls were there and his mom was there but, our son wasn't there and he needed to get here. I think I had resigned myself to the fact at that point that he wasn't coming back to us. Finally, they came back and said there was nothing more they could do. What a moment that was. I remember it but, it's like I don't really remember it. It's as if it was happening somewhere else to someone else. From my understanding, (the surgeon explained this to our daughters as I was trying to explain to our 13 yr old son that dad was "gone") they were just finishing up working on Tom, and were about to close him up when he started bleeding out. It turns out his 1st rib ruputured his subclavain artery causing a bleed that couldn't be stopped. Although, they tried to give him many bags of blood there was nothing they could do to stop the bleeding. It was over!

So, on March 16th, 2009 a life that was loved, adored and cherished was no more.

Now, I am trying to pick up the pieces and move forward...I can't imagine ever moving on..that would mean leaving him behind. I'll just move forward with him in my heart. And love him every bit as much as if he were still here. Sometimes it's hard to breathe without him and the heaviness in my chest just doesn't seem to go away. Sleeping isn't a problem it's waking up that is the problem...I wake up every morning with the feeling of dread in my chest just knowing that I have to somehow face the day without Tom by my side.

I will love you Always and Forever, Bunzy
You are my heart, my life, my love!

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Comment by Effie on July 11, 2009 at 6:26am
Dearest Marlena, My name is Effie and my only sibling and brother/best friend Alex, died on April 28th, a saturday morning, two years ago. When read your letter and then the date I cried. Your loss is so recent. I know where you are at, emotionally. Your husband sounds like such a nice guy. Down to earth and real, like my brother, who was an organic farmer. My brother died in a car accident. He was supposed to come visit us in CT, he lived near Lake Placid in NY, later that day. Instead I got a call from my mom saying he had been in a car accident and was at the hospital. I assumed he would be fine. Finally I called the hospital to see if I could talk to him. The nurse told me to hold on...then the hospital admin got on and told me she couldn't release any information on "that patient". AT the same moment my cell phone started to ring. I saw it was my parents number. I begged the woman to tell me my brother was ok. She said "how do I know you are really his sister?". Finally I told her I think I know....I think I know. My world was becoming black. I called my parents right back and my dad answered the phone. I said what's the news? And my dad said "he's gone". Even just typing those words...makes me pause. It still takes my breath away. I was in my garage, away from my kids, smoking, when I heard thopse words. I dropped the smoke, I fell to my knees and I screamed NO!!! That is all I recall. I did not understand what my dad meant. I did, but I didn't want to. I just kept saying no no no no...over and over. I still want to make it go away. I cry almost every day. And I am a strong person. But this will always effect me. My brother also left behind a new wife and two young children 2 and 4. They had beenmarried for 8 months. I think the fact that you and I both, got to experience things like children, and time together that so many do not have, we can let that thought rest in our hearts and be glad. Through all of the pain, our loved ones were here. They were real and they were loved. Every day is different and life will be moreof a challenge, but they are always with us. I know how that sounds...but I do feel my brother with me sometimes, especially when I am so sad. I imagine him with his arms around me in a big big hug, like he used to do...and he tells me "it's ok sis". Often I saw tro him out loud, It is NOT ok!! I miss you!! He was my only sibling. He was my best friend. My parents are old now...and soon I fear I will be alone in this world, without the three people who know me best. I am also adopted, so was my brother. We were very close. I have seen what my sister in law has been through and my parents and his children. Then there is me. Even though our situations are different in some ways, I understand that you must feel very alone in your grief at times. Know that you are not alone. I read your letter and will never forget it. I will also think of you and send you strength. Without all of the love and support I have gotten these last two years I don't know where I would be. Peace to your heart and know he is watching over you...and comforts you when you cry. I promise you that.
Comment by Cheryl on June 24, 2009 at 7:38pm
Dear Marlena:

I dont even know where to start...I cant even imagine the pain that you must feel in your heart at this time. I am in tears, because I am married and my husband is my heart, my life, and my best friend.

Death is the worst thing that can happen to a family, especially in a marriage. By looking at his picture and reading what you said about Tom I can tell that he was a very loving person, and that he made a lasting impact on everyone that he met. With the days to come, I hope that you are able to find comfort in the wonderful memories that you and Tom shared.

The pain is so intense that in the moment there is nothing anyone can say or do to bring relief. It takes time to work through the pain.

During times like these, many including my self have been comforted by the hope that the Bible gives. I am not sure if you are Bible reader, however, Jesus promises that very soon according to John 5:28,29 that billions that have died, will be resurrected to life again. Not in an unknown heavens, but right here on earth under peaceful, righteous conditions. And at that time humans will have the prospect of enjoying perfect health, free from sickness, disease and tragedy, and they will never die again according to Psalms 37:9-11,29 and Revelation 21:4.

There are many accounts in the Bible of Jesus raising the dead while he was on the earth. (John 11:11-44, Mark 5:35-43, and Luke 7:11-17)

Jesus did it while he was on the earth, and he will do it again on a even grander scale.

When you get a second, reading these accounts in your personal copy of the Bible can give you solid hope that Tom can live again on earth.

I hope that these scriptures bring you some comfort at this time. If your heart yearns to learn more, you can contact Jehovah's Witnesses and they will gladly assist you to learn more, or go to www.watchtower.org. and in the search box in the upper right corner type in death. There will be some very comforting information there for you to read.

I will keep you in my prays.

Sincerely,

Cheryl

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