Saturday, February 9, 2013

Hard Question to Answer

I have had several friends and some family ask me about the morning when Debbie passed away.  Well I have kept it to myself but I guess that I should share in case it helps someone from loosing their wifes.

 The day before Deb and I had driven into San Saba. We had lunch and took care of some other things. She seemed perfectly fine. She was smiling and giggling which is what most remember of her. She had a very loud giggle which was very hard to miss and addictive. I remember the first time I heard it over the phone before we had ever met.

 That evening she didn't feel well but we both thought maybe she was coming down with a cold or possibly the flu. I took her temp and it was a bit high but not to bad. She was drinking bottled water like crazy and started to throw up a few times then asked for some gatoraid which seemed to settle her stomach. We laid down on the sofa together and watched food network. In this house she owned the remote so unless she was asleep it was up to her what we watched and I didn't mind since she put up with my needs.

 We had both fallen asleep and around 2 am she vomited again then drank some more gatoraid and her stomach seemed to settle down.  She got up to go to the bathroom and staggered in and I jumped up and she said she was ok but just a bit dizzy. I checked her temp one more time and it was normal.

  Then around 6 am she was ice cold. I told her I was calling a ambulance and she said to first help her change clothes which I did. I called 911 and she wanted to go back to the bathroom one more time. I helped her in and she fell down on the floor. She had no pulse and was not breathing. I was doing compression on her chest and cpr and had called 911 again and told the dispatcher that I had to just perform CPR at which time they had called for lifeflight. It takes about 25 minutes from San Saba to Cherokee where we live for the ambulance. In the mean time I had restored her breathing although shallow and her pulse was erratic. But she did open her eyes briefly and called out my name when her eyes rolled back. I had the dispatcher on speaker phone and she did her best to keep me calm and I kept talking to Deb.

  One of the reasons I am sharing this is to let you know that men and woman have completely different symptoms when having a stroke or heart attack. Men usually feel a tightness in their chest and numbness in the left arm! Woman have a deep pain in their backs.

  Debbie complained of her back hurting but that was normal for what we did daily. I thought nothing of it. Had I paid attention I possibly could have seen other issues. But her breathing was fine and she had not complained of anything else which was normal for her.

  Well while still on speaker phone with the dispatcher the ambulance arrived and promptly got stuck in the wet ground behind my trailer but they wasted no time in getting in the house and hooking her up. Both very professional and asked me to step aside while they worked. I wish I had their names because the gal looked straight into Debbie's eyes and told her "You stay with me"  I helped them put her on the gurney and they moved her into the ambulance which I was not allowed to be in. I understand their reasoning but there simply was not enough room. The Fire Dept showed up with equipment to pull the ambulance out and we had already heard the chopper land at the highschool about a 1/4 mile away. I waited here with my brother James and Sister in Law Lissa to hear it take off. James walked outside while Lissa comforted me and we heard the chopper take off.  James came back in shortly and said that the ambulance just went south with lights and sirens. He took Lissa home and came right back. I waited about 15 minutes which would be long enough for the ambulance to get to the hospital in Llano then called.

 They put me through to a Dr. he told me "Mr Arms when she arrived she was already DOA and all we could do was to pronounce her".  I nearly fell to my knees but James held me up. I leaned against the wall and James went outside to get Justin our good friend and boss.  I had completely lost all composure. If there hadn't been a wall I'd have been on the floor. Seconds after James walked out Justin walked in and grabbed me. Now Justin is a huge man but he carries a huge heart. After a struggle to get away from his grasp I had regained my composure as best as I could and James and I walked to his truck. I called my Mom and Dad who were on their way to visit Grandma who is elderly and has her own age related issues.  They turned around and headed this way. James took me to the hospital in Llano. We were taken to a room where Deb was laying in a bed covered by a blanket up to her forehead. They had itubated her and the tube was still in her mouth. I was able to lower the blanket enough to kiss her forehead.  Its that sight that has kept me awake each and every night since then. I rarely sleep a full night and when I do I wake up in a sweat and have to shower to just cool off.

  My Sister in Law Tina and niece Bailey were there. Bailey had never been exposed to someone who had passed away much less then a Aunt who she knew well. I had bent over to kiss Debbies forehead when I saw Baileys knees getting weak yet she somehow kept from falling because I think she wanted to be strong for her Uncle when I wanted to be strong for her.  It is amazing to me how family who loves each other discounts their feelings for each other over their own just to show strength and Bailey did just that for me. Tina walked to the bedside and moved Debbies hair just right. She knew how Debbie was picky about such things. James stood by to make certain the 3 of us were ok. He is a man of strength going through his own ordeal right now yet never fails his family! For that I am eternally grateful.

 After we walked out of the hospital James and I sat in his pickup. He asked if I wanted to wait for the funeral home to pick her up.  That I did not want to see because I still thought it was simply a nightmare I would soon wake up from.

  That evening I spent many hours on the phone with Debbies Mom, Her Aunt, Our Sons.  Debbie and I had years ago come to the decision to be cremated.  Yet after talking to her family and most importantly her sons  I decided she would want them to be happy and since they had not seen her in quite sometime it was only right that they be able to say good bye.  Debbie was raised a Roman Catholic and her parents and sons and Aunt needed to be able to have a funeral that was appropriate and I called Debbies ex husband John the next day and told him to tell the boys I had made up my mind and they were to have just that for their Mom. It was only fair and Debbie would not have fought that battle either!

  Then the plans were made. It was to be another week before her funeral which was the longest week of my life.

   Tomorrow I will add more but let me leave this one photo. Debbie was godmother to her niece Tina. Both very lovely ladies and Tina's Mom was more like a sister then Aunt.

 So Tootie this is for you! The prettiest two ladies!

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