Last Friday, June 28th, things changed drastically for Dave. He started showing signs that he was progressing and his body was beginning to shut down. Our nurse left that afternoon and an hour later I called her back to the house because his breathing had changed. When she came out of the room, she told me that she didn't know if he would make it until morning. Adrenaline kicked in and thoughts and emotions flooded. She said if it was important for me to be with him when he took his last breath, I should stay at the house until this was over. She stopped all his medication except pain pills and meds for nausea, "This is really happening. I have prepared for this moment for months and yet, I can not believe he is going to die." His mom, sister, and brother all came in that evening instead of on Saturday like they had planned. The house had a quiet, somber, sad feel to it. There were tears and moment spent in his room-each of us at times alone with him and also together. I sat all night by his bed, watching, waiting on the last breath...morning came and he was still with us.
That night turned into a day, then a night, then another day...Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday...each day, expecting it to be his last. The nights I had a nurse here, I went to bed wondering if they would come and get me in the middle of the night, "Hurry, he is close!" But I would wake up to my alarm each morning and hear the same thing, "He is still here, still hanging on." And then the emotions and thoughts come, some disappointment that he is still laying in there suffering. Some relief-I didn't miss it. I have been sleeping in the basement when I was able to and I would hear the footsteps in the kitchen through the night, I would wake up and think they were coming down to get me. The adrenaline would kick in, then my brain would start spinning and I would lay there wide awake unable to sleep.
Thursday morning I woke up and came up to check on how the night went. There were changes. I could see it. It is so strange that as his body weakened, it was still able to get weaker. We had a nurse come at 8:00 to begin her shift. At this point, they are by his side almost the entire time they are here. She did her evaluation on him-she couldn't get a blood pressure reading. His lung sounds were very weak. And she could barely hear his pulse. She said it wouldn't be long. But she didn't know my husband...around 1:00 that afternoon it was time for his meds and he was able to tell us that he was in some pain. We tried so hard to understand him and couldn't. He was frustrated and slapped both of his hands on the bed. I felt so bad, "I am so sorry honey, we will make sure you are comfortable." At that point, we started giving him his pain med every 2 hours. From then on he was asleep.
That nurse finished her shift. She was shocked. She shared that she keeps a journal on every patient she has been with when they passed away...she was sure he would be #386. He wasn't. Our night nurse came on. I just knew I would be woken up during the night. Every step upstairs I was wide awake, adrenaline pumping, waiting for her to tell me to come upstairs. I slept very little. I have thought through a lot of this process, what I would need to do, how I thought I might feel, or what I thought I might think. But that night, I was flooded with lots of things I hadn't thought of before. It was awful. It was happening. My husband was so close to his last breath.
I woke again that morning to my alarm clock. I could hardly believe it. I went upstairs and she was in his room checking on him. She told me he was close. I quickly went and woke up my kids and we all went in and sat by his bed. It was 7:20. I sat and held his hand watching his chest rise and fall, pause. Rise, fall, pause, Rise, fall, pause. Adrenaline pumping again as I waited for the bomb to drop. We called my mom and she turned around to come back home. We sat over an hour. The same signs that it was going to happen any minute. I finally decided I needed to shower. I knew when he passed it would be a whirlwind. I knew if he went that morning, I would be meeting that afternoon with the funeral director. So, I quickly showered and came out and he was still the same. The last two days, I sat by him. Watching his breathing. Wondering if I should leave his side. I wanted to hold his hand when he breathed his last breath. It was hard to walk away and not just sit hour after hour. Minute after minute. The nurse we had on Thursday, came back on Friday and she could hardly believe it. She said she had NEVER seen anyone hang on like this. I know she didn't expect him to make it through her shift. At 2:30, I was in the dining room with my mom and she hollered, "Stephanie, you need to get in here!" I got up and practically ran to his side. His breathing had changed, the moddeling had worsened-you could see it on his face, his toes were dark, it was in his hands, the last breath was approaching. So we all sat. We watched. We waited. I held his hand. I was going to hold his hand in that moment. But he was fighting. He was not letting go. It wasn't quite time for him to go. My sister in law came to the house. I was thankful she could be with us. I did finally get up and walk out of the room, but not for long. Sitting. Waiting on that awful, dreaded, moment. I felt like I had been sitting in that chair forever. I wanted it over for him. I plead with God to come and take him home.
It was about 4:55 and we were all gathered in his room-me, my kids, my mom, and my sister in law, and the nurse. A friend had sent me a song through facebook. It just showed up as a youtube video link with no info. I decided to play it to see what it was and to let it minister to my heart in this hour. So, I hit play on my phone and let the worship fill the air. "Mighty Breath of God"