Hi...It’s Peg. And today I am writing about the time I nearly lost Tom and I experienced everything he and Annie must have gone through with me yet from the other perspective. And I can add a lot of my feelings and thoughts and concerns during that time as such. So here goes.
About 20+ years ago, Tom and I were fairly new parents to Annie. She was only 15 months old at the time, and Tom came to me one Friday morning while I was getting dressed for work and asked if I could make a doctor’s appointment for him that day because he had a terrible cold that was not going away. He was not one who ever got colds and was never one who volunteered to go to the doctor, so I certainly agreed to make an appointment for him.
I was able to get Tom an appointment to see our regular general doctor later that same afternoon and called Tom to tell him that his appointment was late in the afternoon. Shortly thereafter though, he called me back to say he was going to the doctor’s office right away because he couldn’t “take it” anymore. He went by himself to the doctor immediately upon calling me. I was concerned...this behavior was so very abnormal for Tom. The doctor ran a chest x-ray and gave him a prescription for an inhaler and some strong antibiotics and told him to come back three days later on Monday for another chest x-ray. He also told him if he felt any worse over the weekend he should go to the ER and ask for another chest x-ray and the ER should contact the GP doctor.
During that night, that Friday night, Tom could not sleep. He tossed and turned in bed and was having difficulty breathing. I spent the night rubbing his back just so he could breathe. He didn’t want me to call 911 - he wanted me to continue rubbing his back so he could breathe.
The next morning my Dad and I took Annie to the grocery store and l left Tom with my Mom at home. When we came home from the store, my mom said that Tom was even worse than when we left - so my Dad and I took him to the ER. (Fortunately for us, my parents were visiting us from their home in Las Vegas during this time.)
He was checked in immediately, examined by several doctors and admitted to a hospital room. He was then examined again by two lung doctors and a heart doctor. He was scheduled to be seen by an infectious disease specialist doctor, Dr. Samuel Wilson, - but not until the next day.
On Sunday he was seen by the Dr. Wilson, who examined him and decided to put him in ICU immediately.
When Dad and I walked into his ICU room Monday morning (very early), we saw that he had been intubated. Intubation is the process of inserting a tube, called an endotracheal tube (ET), through the mouth and then into the airway. This is done so that a patient can be placed on a ventilator to assist with breathing during anesthesia, sedation, or severe illness. The tube is then connected to a ventilator, which pushes air into the lungs to deliver a breath to the patient. This process is done because the patient cannot maintain his airway, cannot breathe on his own without assistance, or both. This may be because he is being given anesthesia and will be unable to breathe on his own during surgery, or he may be too sick or injured to provide enough oxygen to his body without assistance.
Dr. Wilson told us his thoughts and plan - he thought Tom was suffering from Hantavirus - which was feasible because we lived near diseased rodents at the time.
Dr. Wilson’s plan was to perform a lung biopsy the next morning but he would have to perform it while Tom was in this very fragile state. The doctor needed to ensure that what Tom had was viral and not bacterial, hence the reason he was not responding to the massive doses of antibiotics he had been given.
As they wheeled Tom down the hall the next morning to the OR and I sat there waiting with my Dad, they immediately rushed him back with the most frightened looks of despair on their faces. Dr. Wilson quickly came to me and said he would tell me what was happening after they took care of Tom. A priest had been called to give last rites, Tom had been on 100 percent oxygen for too long.
At that moment I turned to my Dad and said, “I am losing him! I am losing my husband!”
What we have once enjoyed we can never lose; all that we deeply love becomes a part of us. – Helen Keller