Gary is gone.
He was pronounced dead at 5:09pm, 13th September, 2017.
I never got to say goodbye to him, to see him respond. My 46-year old husband of nearly eleven years, my partner of fifteen, is gone.
In the forty minutes I spent trying to get to him that morning, trying to park, screaming at anyone I could, driving around the hospital campus like an unhinged lunatic, he was taken to neurology for the stroke. Fifteen minutes before I finally made it inside the hospital.
They were successful in getting the clot in his brain. While he was recovering, he began to crash. They found a massive pulmonary embolism, a huge blood clot in his lungs that would not move. It’s something that could have just happened or been there for ages undetected. The doctors kept me updated every step of the way.
I went into the room, he was sedated and intubated. I held his hand, stroked his face. I talked to him while the doctors got things ready. I told him that I loved him, and that he was safe, and so very brave. I told him that I had him. That he didn’t need to be afraid anymore because I was there. That he was safe and that I loved him. I told him that he was going the right way, that he was fighting the good fight, and that we have so much more to talk about. I know that he could hear me and that my voice helped him to calm down. Knowing that helped to calm me down.
They put in a central line near his right clavicle, to add medication to try to bust the clot. The line went in fine but the clot would not move. They tried chest compression. He crashed, his heart rate and blood pressure bottoming out. He coded, they tried resuscitation. They kept on trying. He coded again, and they kept on trying. They gave him drugs normally not recommended to try and help because he was dying and who cares if he goes into VT if they can get him back. His ICD kept on shocking him. They tried bypassing his heart, his arteries. I know I’m getting some of this wrong.
The neurosurgeon came in, told me that Gary was crashing, that they were trying everything, working as hard as they could, that there were a hundred people in the surgery suite. I believed him. My mind clear, eyes wide open, I told him that Gary was an organ donor, knowing I needed to tell them. He looked at me, his eyes just as wide, and nodded, a grim look on his face as he pressed his lips into something approximating a smile.
They tried more. They finally stopped the chest compressions and he died at 5:09pm.
Because he coded for so long, because his entire system was shutting down piece by piece by piece, most of his organs could not be harvested. I understand that and am okay with that. Gary would have wanted to try, but if it didn’t work, oh well.
I got off the phone with LiveOn NY somewhere north of midnight, and what we could donate was his corneas, his bones, his skin, his heart valves, and his veins. He would continue to help others.
He had finally, in his last two days on this planet, after over fifteen years in our relationship, just begun to understand me, to be able to empathize with what I deal with with my illness. He recognized how much more we had to talk about, how much work we now had in front of us, and was eager to begin. That’s what I’m holding onto. Not the angst and anger, not the frustration and picayune bullshit of a very difficult marriage, but the final understanding and desire to work on us, on making us better.
I have lost the smartest man I know. Someone who, for all his faults, for all our mishegoss, always expected the best of me, from me. Who didn’t know how to show that most of the time, but he was learning. He’s stubborn that way.
Thank you to everyone. I love you all. I feel surrounded by love and light.