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!