Thursday, June 12, 2008


The next morning I went back to the hospital to be with Gene and check on his progress. Maureen came to stay with Patty and make sure she was OK. I said I would be home in time for Maureen to leave so she could pick up her granddaughter, Trinity, from school.

I made the same walk into the hospital as the first day only this time I didn't have ask where I was going. I knew to go to the double doors at the end of the hall.

This time there was an elderly man at the ICU check point. He didn't seem to care as much as the lady before. He just asked if I had been there before and if I knew which room I needed to go to. I told him I had been there before and I did know. So he buzzed me in.

I quickly walked into the ICU room Gene was assigned to. For a split second my heart stopped! He was not in the room. His wife and daughters were not there either. I wasn't sure what was going on. Part of me was scared to even ask. But I found a nurse and found out they took Gene to have some tests run. I was able to breathe again. He was OK.

So I pulled up a chair to wait. That's when my SIL and one of my nieces came around the corner and into the room. A look of surprise came over my SIL face. She said hi. Then she said she didn't think we would be coming down anymore. She thought we did our visit yesterday and then she would just call us to let us know how Gene was doing.

I didn't say anything at first. But I was thinking to myself "No, I'm going to be here as long as my brother needs me."

She then told me they were going to lunch and grabbed her purse. My niece followed behind her. She then turned around and said I could go with them if I wanted to. I declined. I could tell my SIL was upset I was even there. I didn't want to force myself on her. So I waited in the room.

I didn't want to cause any problems but I wasn't going to leave either. I mean come on! This is my brother we are talking about. The only way I was going to stay away was if HE asked me to.

After they ate my SIL and my two nieces, Amber and Holly, returned to the room. I felt the tension from my SIL but my nieces seemed to fine with me being there. We made small talk and soon Gene returned.

As they were putting him back into his bed I stepped out of the room to give him some privacy. My SIL came out with me. She said she could tell Gene was really tired from the tests and she thought it may be to much for him to have visitors. I told her I wasn't going to stay long. I also told her how much I loved him and was going to be there for him. I still got the feeling she wasn't happy with me.

We both went back into the room. Gene looked pretty tired. He told me they did a swallow test on him and he was told he could eat but had to have his food ground up. Almost like baby food. Any liquid he had was to be thickened with this powder that made it like a runny pudding. It seems he would sometimes not know the food and/or liquids went down the wrong way and they needed to watch that.

It was lunch time and my SIL asked the three of us to step out while she helped him eat. So we went to the lobby.

I sat down in a chair and Amber and Holly sat across from me. We started to talk about how sad this whole thing was and how worried we all were. Holly was crying so I got her a tissue. Good thing I picked up two because I was crying too.

It was the first time we ever really had a heart to heart talk. Amber said she was like her mom and hardly ever cried. She said she saw her mom only cry two times. One was when a little girl that lived by them died and one time when she moved out. Holly perked up and said "What! Mom cried when you moved out! She didn't cry when I did and I was crying like a baby." We all started to laugh.

Both Amber and Holly expressed how much they loved their dad and how scared they were of losing him. Holly said "He is such a nice guy. Why does this have to happen to him?" I had no answer.

Holly also said she was happy we were talking because she had only been able to talk to one of her friends about all this.

I had printed out some info on strokes and what to expect. Also, some info on what the family could do to help with the recovery. Holly said she loved reading everything she could find and was thankful I brought that with me.

One thing that happens when you have a stroke is your emotions get all messed up and you cry, laugh or get angry and you may not even know why.

We all agreed it was heartbreaking to see Gene cry. We knew it was really just the stroke but it still was hard. Like when Holly told her dad she had graduated from college that day. He started to cry when he told her how happy that made him and how proud of her he was.

We all knew he was crying because he loved her very much and was proud of her but it still was sad to see him cry.

I then told both of them that I loved Gene with all my heart and felt like I needed to be there for him. They both agreed. I told them I didn't think their mom wanted me there. They assured me Gene does and that's what matters. I felt much better.

My SIL came out and said Gene wanted to see Amber and Holly alone for a minute. So I sat out in the lobby and she sat down with me. It was as if she had a change of heart and started to talk to me with ease. She said Gene told her it was OK that I was there and I could go see him as often as I wanted. That made me feel good. I think with Gene saying it was OK it made my SIL feel better and like I wasn't just trying to be pushy or like I was prying into their business. She just wanted to do what Gene wanted. I understood that.

Finally, after what seemed like forever, Holly came out and said Gene wanted me to go back in. So we all went back to the room.

He was very tired and I could tell he wanted to sleep a bit. So I told him I loved him and would be back. He said he loved me too and would see me tomorrow.

I said good bye to everyone and went out to my car. On the way home I started to ball like a baby. I couldn't stop crying. It's like I finally felt like I had been strong enough and I had to let it out. I cried the whole way home. The whole hour home.

That night watching TV I cried. I wasn't watching anything sad it was just like a dam broke and the water kept coming out. I went on the computer and cried some more. I finally went to bed and cried myself to sleep.

Why was this happening? Why to my brother? He was so happy about getting to retire in just a few days. Gene and I made plans to travel together. Then he had a stroke. It wasn't right! It wasn't fair.

It made me think about how happy my mom was just before she died. She was approved to move to a senior apt that she really wanted to live at and before she got to she had a heart attack and died.

I felt like our family was not meant to ever be really happy. We had so much pain in our life as I was growing up. My brother died, my father died, my mom died. Please God don't let another one of my brothers die.

Looking back I can see I was going through the steps of the grieving process. Denial, anger, bargaining with God, sadness. I was hitting all of them.

No, Gene didn't die. But he wasn't the Gene from before I had no idea how long he would be gone.


jenscloset said...

Gene sounds like an amazing person..with his sense of humor, he will surely get through this!

Polly said...

Good words.