Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Am I coming to terms with the horrors I saw that day? Am I ready to deal with them? I don't know. Fact is, I can't get the images out of my head. The look on the medic's face as she looked at me. It was a pitiful look like she knew there was no hope and the doctor was just placating me.

The determination on the doctor's face as he realized Tommy was in full arrest and started CPR with a vengeance. Then switching off with nurses and medics. All of them sweating profusely from the sheer force of trying to save my boy's life.

The sound of anger in the Attending doctor's voice as he asked for a cuffed trach tube, but none could be found on the crash cart. Wanting to know why he didn't have IV access and had to waste precious time getting in a line.

The sound of the inncessant beeping of the heart monitor as it began to flatline. The look on the nurse's face through the window as she tried to get me to leave the room. HELL NO!

One of the medics shouted above the fray, wanting to know what Tommy was on "contact" for. I was the one shouting back pseudomonas. He flung his mask and gown off to get closer to Tommy and work harder.

I shouted his diagnosis to the medics that did not know him. I gave his history and made corrections to what was in his chart. I wanted more than anything to jump into the middle of it all and save my son's life.

Through it all, I was calm and in complete denial. Tommy had coded before. He'd been sicker. I kept wondering why they weren't moving him to the OR to start heart surgery. I was guessing he had to be stablilized. I watched my son's naked body with blood on the sheets from the emergency IV with someone compressing his heart while another breathed for him with an ambu bag while another gave shots of life saving drugs trying to restart his heart. Except watching it all, I didn't realize his heart had stopped and that meant death. I thought his heart was having trouble because it was sick, not because his body was dying.

Even when the attending called in the chaplain, I would not give up hope. My son was a fighter and had been through so much. He couldn't just die like that. He'd been fixed before. Pulled through when we thought there was no hope. And then he said it. "Call time". 10:50pm. The noise stopped, the room full of people filed out. Gone. He was just here. Blowing me kisses and signing "I love you" from across the room. My poor, sick baby. I denied it all the way until the end. I never gave up on him.

It's been over a year. The scene plays out in my head on a daily basis. I block it out the best I can, but when I am alone at work and the rain falls outside, the images will not go away. When we drive through certain parts of town (near the hotel where we stayed during the funeral) feelings of grief and horror rush back to me.

I talked to Rob about all of it and think it's time to start seeing a counselor. I saw one before but had dealt with all I could deal with at the time. Now it's time to face the hauntings.


Martha said...

Rene, you amaze me at how you have come through the past year like a true soldier. I have no doubt that you will continue through this nightmare until the sweet dreams cover it over and it's only a faint memory. I pray that you can find the right counselor and that you can deal with the horror of that devastating day. I know God's grace can bring you on through.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sweet Rene,

I hear what you have been through and I understand it. But have no ways of feeling what you must surely be feeling. Like I have told you, I have such respect for you and how you have learned to adapt and cope. You've found a way to reach out to others and to do what you can. I love you so much for that. Hang in there. Prayers going out for you as always.

Love, Michelle

Susan said...

Watching your child die must be the hardest thing in the world Rene. I'm sure it's totally typical that it replays in your head as your mind comes to terms and tries to make sense of what happened. I was so shocked by Tommy's death. He WAS such a fighter it really didn't seem possible to me. I think grief is a process. You will go in and out of the stages. I hope that you find a therapist that can help you move on to the next stages so you reach a final place of peace. Hugs.

Christy said...

I think counseling is a wonderful idea. I sometimes wish that one would come with a trached child. You talked a long time ago about talking with a woman that lost a child. She told you that you had been grieving since the beginning of his life. I couldn't agree more. I hope you find someone that can help you and your family.

Thinking of you,

Janis said...

Oh Rene, that was so moving and yet so horrible. I cannot imagine having to see it happen once, let alone over and over again. I hope that you are able to find someone to help you deal with it all. I am not sure I would ever be able to cope after something like that, you have been very strong.

Christine said...

I am so sorry. I can't even begin to understand your loss. Your family is beautiful. Nice to meet you.

Diagram of Tommy's Heart Defects

Diagram of Tommy's Heart Defects
Double Inlet Left Ventricle with Transpostion of the Great Arteries