Total Pageviews

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Comedy or Tragedy?

So, I'm trying to decide which plot I've landed in --- comedy or tragedy?  Here's the plot outline so far --

Heroine's beloved husband dies.
Not even a month later, the beloved cat dies.
Meanwhile, the old beloved dog is at death's door...
Heroine gets a rescued yellow dog to cheer her up.
Then promptly, heroine trips over said yellow dog and breaks her arm in two places.

I'm not making this up.

I once had a writing instructor explain the "fine line" between comedy and tragedy like this:

A man slips on a banana peel = comedy.
YOU slip on a banana peel = tragedy.

So which is it?

I tell you, it's hard to type one-handed. So I stop here.

PS: Boomer is still hanging in here....
      Kona at the vet getting spayed...
      Ripley throwing a pizza party as Kona is gone tonight!

And me? Trying desperately to maintain my sense of humor.....

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Fostering Kona

This was Hillary's idea.  Hillary is our veterinarian.  You know, it's pretty bad when you are on first name basis with your vet.  Anyway, Hillary got a call from the Labrador/Retriever Rescue of Florida.  There were four purebred labs being turned in to them, and they needed a vet visit for shots, etc. Then, they would all need foster homes. And Hillary asked if I'd consider fostering a purebred lab? She thought a younger dog might be just "the thing" to "perk Boomer up" and it would also be good for my heartbroken soul...

So I picked up Kona, a 4 year old female yellow lab, on Thursday.  I hate to say, those dogs were living under terrible conditions...

"Kona" means "lady" in Hawiian.



She's overweight, has an ear infection and a wound on her leg. She is on antibiotics and ear drops. I have to take her in to be spayed next week (the rescue pays for it). But she's a sweetheart. And she "picked" me -- I was actually supposed to pick up one of the other dogs. But she sat at my feet and looked at me with those sad brown eyes and I asked if I could take her instead.


Ripley on attack mode!

And she's scared to death of Ripley!  And Ripley hates her ---

Though Boomer thinks she's a fine girlfriend.

I'm told I can either foster her until someone adopts her, or -- I can become a "foster failure" and adopt her, myself.  So, we'll see what happens.  A lot depends on Ripley.

This photo, with former owner, taken by Hillary before Kona's exam. Look at Kona's nails.




Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Zenith

Zenith passed away after surgery today. She had a cardiac arrest.

I can't believe this is happening.   This is too hard.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Update

This is hard. Perhaps the hardest thing I've ever been through.  It feels much like when Bob had his stroke back in 2010 and was in a coma for so long. Except then there was hope. And now, there is none.

Boomer is not doing well.  It's sort of like a "death watch" for him.  I had scheduled the vet to come last week, Sunday, to put him to sleep -- but she couldn't make it until later in the day and somehow Boomer perked up and rebounded.  Yesterday and today, he is not eating. I have some new pills for him, appetite stimulate and something for nausea.  We go, day by day. Waiting.

Zenith began vomiting blood. Pure blood. I took her in for an ultrasound and they found a "fluid filled mass" on her liver. I take her on Wednesday for exploratory surgery and biopsy. Pray it isn't cancer.

Bubba, our good friend and car mechanic, is in the hospital having suffered a stroke. Bubba, who took me to the funeral parlor to collect Bob's ashes. Who was building Bob an urn for his ashes...

Chris is sick, having a raging infection stemming from her foot. She may have to have a toe amputated.

Ripley doing better, I spend evenings curled up with him on Bob's hospital bed. This house has become a lonely, sad place.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Then Bob Falls Under The Porch

The other night, I was talking on the phone with Bob's uncle and I was sitting on the back porch/wheelchair ramp. We were talking about the fiasco that Bob's "Celebration of Life" became after one of Bob's relatives acted out in a completely childish manner.  I won't go into details, except to say that there has been a lot of strife in that family for many years and I would have hoped that, on this solemn occasion, certain people would have kept their mouths shut and paid a bit of respect to Bob's memory and the people he loved. Unfortunately, that did not happen.

Anyway, I was talking on the phone with Bob's uncle, when I happened to glance down and notice that the little white bronze heart that contains some of Bob's ashes and that I now wear around my neck was gone!   So, I'm freaking out, checking the folds of Bob's t-shirt (which I am wearing) looking for the bronze heart and Chris (who had shown up while I was on the phone and sat down next to me) is looking at me curiously and I hold the empty chain up that is still around my neck and her mouth drops open and she whispers "Check your bra!"

So I'm reaching down to check my bra when I see, out of the corner of my eye, a little whitish thing roll onto the porch deck and plop right through the space between the floor boards and fall under the porch.

But I'm thinking that that's not the little bronze heart because whatever that was, was too small. And, to my relief, I find the little heart nestled inside my bra but to my horror the plug at the hole on the top of heart is missing and the thing is empty.

Now I'm really freaking out because Bob is gone.  He fell right out. And the thing I saw roll on the porch deck must've been him, the tiny container that contained his ashes.

So I tell Bob's uncle that I have to run and I dash into the house to find a flashlight, because it's starting to get dark and I have to get under that porch and find Bob!

And I can't find a flashlight, I mean, where the heck did I put them when I unpacked? And I'm flinging open drawers and dashing through the house and I know we have a bunch of flashlights, but where are they? And did I even unpack them yet? There's still a lot of boxes in the back room.

I ask Chris, who has followed me into the house, if she has a flashlight. She says she does but "it's green and it howls." And I'm thinking, huh? Just then, I open a drawer and find a flashlight. But of course, when I turn it on, it doesn't work. So I open it up and the batteries are all corroded. So now I have to find new batteries for it. I'm digging through drawers for batteries and, of course, we've got every kind of battery except the kind this flashlight uses. Then I remember that I have this kind of battery in my camera, so I find my camera and take the batteries out and put them in the flashlight, but the flashlight still doesn't work.

Frantic, I tell Chris to go get her flashlight, and she says, "Are you sure? It's green and it howls." And I'm practically screaming now, because I don't care, I just need a flashlight and I'm not even sure what the heck she's talking about.  So she leaves and returns with her flashlight and hands it to me.

I'm looking at this thing and it's a black flashlight with neon green trim, and instead of one button to turn it on, I have my choice of five buttons which are marked: "light", "thunder", "wolf", "scream", and "laugh". I'm thinking, oh for crying out loud, this is a Halloween flashlight, for trick-or-treating.  I punch the button that says "light" and, of course, that button doesn't work. So I punch "thunder" and am greeted with the sound of effect of booming thunder accompanied by a flashing eerie green light.

But it's all I got, this flashlight. So I head under the porch.

There I am, crawling on my belly through the dirt, under the porch deck and I can't even raise my head. There I am, punching the buttons because the flashlight won't stay on for more than a couple of seconds, so my quest is accompanied by the sound of thunder, then witchy screams and wolf howls and flashing neon green light and I am worried about snakes and spiders and god-knows-what that might be under there in the dark, and I'm thinking this is ridiculous, I'll never find Bob this way, and I'm not even sure where I am under there in conjunction with where I saw the little white thing disappear through the cracks of the porch floor.

I have to push myself, on my belly, backwards to get out from under the porch.

By now, the sky is pitch black. So I turn the porch lights on. I'm thinking I need some kind of marker to mark the spot where I saw the little white thing disappear, and I find a stick and stick it through the floor boards where I think the thing disappeared and once again, I crawl with the haunted flashlight under the deck to search for Bob.

There I am, crawling on my belly with the flashing neon light and howling screams, and the stick is way under there, about six feet away. The first time, I didn't go under far enough. I'm not so much crawling but squirming through the dirt on my belly like a snake. And I reach the stick and flash the green neon light around and I'm thinking, that container that contains Bob must be plastic and should shine when I hit it with the light, but I am seeing nothing. Absolutely nothing. I'm growing very frustrated in that eerie green flashing light that I have to keep turning on and I'm hitting all the buttons so I'm getting thunder, then screams, then wolves howling, and Chris, above me, yells, "Diane, don't break my damn flashlight!"

I give up. squirm backward out from under the porch. I'm covered in dirt and leaves. And tears are flowing down my dirty cheeks. Chris and I decide that we will get up early in the morning, and run to the store and get a real flashlight. And I will begin my search for Bob again tomorrow.

So I go in the house and take off my dirty clothes, watching the floor carefully in case Bob is caught up in my clothes (but he isn't) and then I shower and I'm thinking, if this wasn't so darn tragic, it would be outright funny.  I mean: Widow with Howling Halloween Flashlight Searches for Dead Husband Under The Porch! And I can hear Bob's voice in my head saying "Funny!"

The next day, armed with a brand new high-powered Coleman flashlight, I crawl once again under the porch. I find screws and nails and all sorts of bits of glittery stuff -- but no Bob.  After nearly two hours of searching, I give up.  I crawl out from under the porch, feeling like a complete failure, tears flowing and I'm bellowing "I'm sorry, Bob!" Then I go inside and clean up.

I call the funeral home. On the phone, I break down, wailing, "I lost my husband under the porch!!!! And I can't find him!!!!!"

And the gal at the funeral home tells me, that, um, he'd be pretty hard to find because his ashes were not in any kind of container. The ashes in the heart are put in there loose....

Loose!

Boy, do I feel stupid. But later that day, I take Bob's ashes with me and have my little heart "refilled" and the necklace put back together.  All the way there and back, I have Bob's ashes sitting in his box in his usual wheelchair spot and I find myself talking to him, as if he's really there, and I hear him answering and at one point I say, "I'm sorry, I forgot your sunglasses." And then I think, I am truly losing my mind...




Saturday, June 13, 2015

A Tribute To Bob

Today, Bob's family in Wisconsin are holding a "Celebration of Life" in his honor. I am not there.

I am not there because I am needed here.  Boomer is nearing the end and will soon join Bob on the other side. The vet has given me five days worth of medication and if Boomer doesn't improve, I will have to make a tough decision.  I tell you, it will be so very hard to lose "my two blonde boys" so close together. Then there's Bob's beloved Zenith, who is touch and go, on daily meds and IV fluids.  I have never seen a cat grieve before, but believe me, they do.  And then there's Ripley, who used to sleep with Bob every night.  Ripley, who still sleeps on the empty hospital bed and pulls his fur out in chunks and had to get a steroid shot to calm him down. I cannot abandon our little family in their time of need. Bob would not have wanted me to.

So I wrote a letter to be read at the Celebration.  And a dear friend will read it for me.  Here, I share it with you.
Bob & Zenith

A Tribute to Bob


My heart is breaking, but truth be told, it’s been breaking for over four years, so the feeling is not so unfamiliar as it is different.  Different because now the hospital bed in the living room is empty and the wheelchair is abandoned in the corner. 

It was four years ago, in October 2010, that Bob went into the hospital for carotid artery surgery. His carotid arteries were, we were told, 95% blocked and the doctors told us that if he did  not have this procedure he would soon suffer a massive stroke.

Ironically, the very procedure that was meant to prevent a stroke, caused a stroke that night, while Bob was in ICU.  Bob had been left in the care of a RN, an new employee still on probation, who had no ICU training, was supposed to be supervised by preceptor, but wasn’t. When Bob cried out for help, this nurse told him to “settle down, settle down” and pumped him up so full of morphine that he blacked out. This nurse, all night long, continued to document Bob’s deteriorating condition on the chart, but never called the doctor.

I would learn these details later, through medical records and lawsuit depositions and from Bob, himself, when he was able to speak again.

Back then, it was I who found Bob in his ICU bed, at 9:00 a.m., unable to speak, unable to move, with a look of sheer terror in his beautiful blue eyes.  It was I who called for a doctor. And though the doctor “rushed” Bob into emergency surgery, it was 11 hours too late. Bob had already suffered massive brain damage. He almost died that day.  In the following weeks, he almost died several times. At one point, during that long hospitalization, the doctors took me aside to tell me gently that it was time to take Bob off life support.  But I just couldn’t. And somehow, Bob pulled through.  The doctors called him “the miracle man”.

I know this service today is a “Celebration of Life”, but one cannot celebrate Bob’s life without remembering the tragedy that befell him and his last four and a half years. I know today folks will be reminiscing about good times and fond memories and believe me, I have many fond memories too.

Fond memories like our first date, on a bitter cold Wisconsin night in January of 1994, when we met after work “for a drink” that turned into an 8 1/2 hour non-stop conversation. How at the end of the evening, Bob pushed me up against the wall and said, “Where have you been? I’ve been looking for you my whole life.” How I laughed and said, “I’ve heard that line before.” Though truthfully, I hadn’t.

Or how he proposed to me so many times and I turned him down so many times, that he finally gave up and told me that, next time, it would have to be me doing the proposing. And I did.

Or how, when I told him I was going to keep my maiden name, he asked if I would at least consider hyphenating my name. I told him that I didn’t think it fair that women had to change their names when men did not. And how he shocked me, a day later, telling me that he had been thinking about what I said and, he agreed, it wasn’t fair and he wanted to know if he hyphenated his last name, would I hyphenate mine? because he wanted us to share the same name so everyone would know we were “a couple”. I couldn’t argue with that compromise.

Recently, I went through our photo albums, trying to dig up some memories that I could share here today. I found myself, first, smiling sadly, then giggling, finally just cracking up. Because there was Bob, picture after picture, hamming it up. He was the guy with his arm flung out dramatically,  his hand, palm up, in that gesture that said “I’m totally cool”.  The guy in the silly straw hat, eyes crossed, tongue out.  On the back of the big lizard statue, riding the thing like a bucking bronco.  He was the one with the balloon animal on his head, or wearing a 1930’s fedora and aviator sunglasses, or creeping across the landscape, fingers curled, arms crooked, like a deranged ghoul.

And the photos he wasn’t in — He was the guy behind the camera. Photos of normally somber folks, thumbs in their ears, waggling their fingers. Folks with eyes crossed and tongues out. With balloon animals on their heads. With arms stretched out in that dramatic, sweeping gesture that Bob loved. A photo of my mom, pretending to choke my father, her faced turned toward the camera with a look that clearly says, “Come on Bob, hurry up and take the darn picture! This is so embarrassing!”  

Bob could charm people into doing the damnedest things.

The photos also reminded me of the things Bob loved:  Loud Hawaiian shirts; funky, 1950’s motels with lots of neon; hokey old roadside attractions and tourist traps, roadside signs which proclaimed things like “The Fruitcake Capitol of the World!” and the “before” and “after” photos of his restoration projects — 1930’s radios and electric fans and floor lamps. His beloved Siamese cat, Zenith, who he had trained to jump from the floor onto his shoulder, so he could take her “for a ride”. His 1973 Dodge Dart Swinger, V8, 4 barrel, 360, two-door coupe with factory air, painted emerald green with a black top, which he had named The Green Machine”. And the bumpersticker he found for it in an antique shop for $3.00 which read “Re-Elect Carter/Mondale”.

That was the Bob that most of you remember. That was the Bob I have mourned for many long years.

The Bob that was discharged from the hospital on New Year’s Eve 2010 was a changed man. A broken man. He was paralyzed. He could not walk or stand. He couldn’t swallow, had a feeding tube stuck in his stomach. He was partially blind. He couldn’t control his bowel or bladder. But the worst was that he couldn’t speak but a few words. The words he could speak, he latched onto and repeated over and over, like some kind of haunted mantra. Words like “Radio” and “Window”, over and over, “Radio” “Window” and I tell you, it broke my heart. 

The hospital wanted him discharged to a nursing home. In fact, the social worker had all the paper work drawn up for admittance to a nursing home.  I argued with them. Refused to sign. The doctor pulled me aside, telling me “your husband is nursing home material now” and there was no way I would be able to care for him at home. But I fought to bring him home with me. I knew his only chance for recovery was to come home.

The next 4 1/2 years would be the hardest in our lives. As Bob struggled to recover, my life changed from that of equal partner to that of caregiver. 

Bob worked hard on his recovery process and I worked hard fighting the insurance company and therapists and finding charities to help pay the cost to keep Bob in therapy. And doctors told us that Bob would never breathe on his own, but Bob pulled out his own breathing tube and showed them that he could.  They told us he would never walk. But Bob pulled himself up out of that wheelchair and took steps. The doctors said he’d be “a vegetable” never able to speak any sense or comprehend, but Bob worked hard at speech therapy until he was speaking full sentences and able to hold a coherent conversation. He set himself to prove the doctors wrong. Many times he triumphed. Many times he didn’t. But he never stopped trying.

For the most part, Bob spent the last four years, five months, in a hospital bed in our living room.  He loved his power wheelchair, but he could not tolerate sitting up for more than a couple hours before the pain became unbearable..

Through it all, he never lost his sense of humor. He never lost his lust for life.  I remember him, working hard on the Nu-Step machine at Out-Patient Rehab, breaking out in song, as loud as he could, his version of “Singing in the Rain” or Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water”. 

Though he mourned the loss of his ability to play his guitar, Bob still loved music, he loved to sing and could sing, if not beautifully, with gusto. His favorite radio station was classic rock which he would request by shouting “Rock and Roll!” and though he could no longer dance, he often grabbed my hand with his one good hand and we “hand-danced” to the music.

Though he lost the use of his right hand, he learned to draw with his left. He drew magical, surreal pictures that he painstakingly worked on for months at time. 

And he suffered, these long four years, with many medical setbacks.  Post-stroke dystonia caused his neck muscles to contract and he could no longer hold his head up.  His feet became curled and painful and he underwent two different foot surgeries. He was diagnosed with cancer and went through treatment. He suffered through bouts of pneumonia, urinary tract infections, sepsis. His right lung, which had collapsed during his 2010 hospitalization, never fully recovered and continued to retain fluids causing chronic respiratory issues.

But with every setback, with every new problem, Bob would shrug it off by saying “oh well” or “c’est la vie”.  I don’t know how he did it, but he kept a positive attitude through it all. 

One of the last things I bought for him was a blue t-shirt with the Superman logo emblazoned across the chest. Bob had picked it out, and I had laughed when he pointed to it and said, “are you sure you want that one?” Bob slapped his chest with his good hand and proclaimed, “Superman!”

Many of you know, after Bob came home, I began keeping an online journal, first to keep family and friends up-to-date on Bob’s progress, but later my “blog” turned into something completely unexpected. It became a way to reach thousands of strangers in the online stroke survivors community. Before I knew it, I began receiving messages from caregivers and stroke survivors across the country, around the world. Over the years, Bob has been an inspiration to so many people.  I cannot count the number messages I received from stroke survivors who said that reading Bob’s story, seeing Bob’s dogged determination, had given them hope and inspired them to continue working hard on their own recovery.  As one fellow wrote, “If Bob can do it, so can I!”  Bob’s story touched so many hearts. 

This past week, I have received condolences from people across the country, from Canada, the UK, from countries, I hate to say, I can’t even pronounce. From people who never met us but felt as if they knew Bob and loved him dearly.  As a woman from Michigan wrote, “Know that people all over the world are mourning Bob tonight and praying for you. I hope knowing this brings you comfort.”

Bob’s last wishes were to be cremated, that I should keep his ashes and find “some real cool antique” to store them in. He also asked me to wear a locket around my neck that contained his ashes, so that he could always be close to my heart. And, at the time of my death, to have our ashes mixed together and scattered across the Gulf of Mexico.  It is my intention to fulfill his wishes.


Before I close, I would like to thank the following people for their comfort and support in Bob’s final years:

Bob’s Aunt and Uncle, Mary and Dick, for your frequent visits and phone calls. Mary, Bob always called you “Crazy Aunt Mary” and I have such fond memories of you and Bob singing together on the phone.  And Dick, he never forgot about those “awfuls” and “french crud” — Bob loved you both so much. Thank you for being there for him.

To my parents, Les and Carol, for your yearly visits, daily phone calls and financial support.  Bob always called you guys “mom and dad”. I don’t know what we would have done without you.

And thank you to the others who took the time and expense and travelled to visit Bob during his last four years:

Bob’s Aunt and Uncle, Bill and Kathy
Bob’s Cousin, Mark and his daughter, Isabelle
My sister, Karen and her friend, Pat 
My Aunt and Uncle, Pauline and Don 
My dear friend and fellow writer, Jennifer of Chicago
My oldest, dearest friend (who reads this now) Lori and her husband Tim.

Those visits meant so very much to Bob.

I’d also like to thank those, to numerous to mention, who sent cards and letters and gifts and much needed cash, you know who you are.

A special thank you to Dan of Illinios who, with his church group, took up a collection to send Bob an I-Pad to work on with his Speech Therapist.  It helped his Speech Therapy so much and gave him so much joy.

Thank you, also, to David, my nephew who offered to step in and become his Uncle Bob’s caregiver, if anything should happen to me.  You didn’t have to do it, but knowing you had my back put me at ease.

And Chris, our dear friend, who sat so many nights with me while Bob was hospitalized in 2010 and afterwards, came weekly to sit with Bob so that I could run errands.

And last, thank you to all those who gather here today to celebrate my husband’s life. I wish I could be here with you. But my hands are full and the distance wide.

And lastly, to Bob, if you are listening, sweetheart.  My darling, my love and my life, you were my Superman.

Wait for me. 

I will always love you.



















Thursday, June 11, 2015

Cremation

There were three of us. Me, Jenny (Bob's former nurse) and Chris. They led us through a set of oak doors with a brass sign that read "Witness Room".

The room was white and blue and there was a wall of glass and behind the glass was Bob.  In a cardboard box.  A brown cardboard box. With a blue paper sheet, blue -- the color of hospital chucks, tucked up to his chin. And I put my hands on the cool glass, palms flat and stared at this man, who was Bob, who was not Bob, who looked more like a statue someone had sculpted, an imitation of Bob, but the sculptor had some how gotten the nose all wrong.

And his neck was straight. And I'm stupidly thinking, his neck is straight -- he's finally holding up his head and how did they do that?

My hands keep slipping on the glass. A sort of slow sliding down, as if I can't control them.  Jenny asks if she should ask if I can go to him, go to Bob, on the other side of that cold glass, but I'm thinking it looks cold in there and Bob looks cold and I just can't move from this spot, here, on the other side of the glass.

On the wall there is a box, a wooden box, with buttons inside. I am told that I can push the button, the button that starts the conveyor.  And the man comes in and goes behind the glass and he raises the thing that Bob lays on and it slides up like some type of industrial scaffold. There is rust on the scaffold and I'm thinking, someone should clean that thing up, paint it or something. Then the man gets a lid for the box, the cardboard box that Bob lies in. The lid is white and box is brown and in big bold black letters, on the lid, it says HEAD.  I'm thinking how odd this is, this HEAD, so big and bold and black and are morticians that dumb? Couldn't they have written HEAD a little smaller or something, or just put some kind of code or mark on the box so they would know which end is what?  The man has trouble fitting on the lid, the lid that says HEAD, so big and bold. And then the man nods to me, which is my cue to push the button, but I cannot push the button.

Jenny says, "It's OK, you've already done enough."

I'm thinking this is such an odd game, who would want to push that button? A child, maybe? Or spiteful widow. A sort of last send off.  Here, take that, you so-and-so! And I can almost hear Bob laughing...

So I shake my head and the man pushes the button and the conveyors roll with the brown cardboard box with the white lid and I run to the side of the glass, my hands sliding over the glass, to the end of the glass wall so I can see the box disappear behind the curtain and see Bob's name on the box, written in black sharpie marker and watch as he disappears...




Friday, June 5, 2015

Grieving

I don't know what to say, but the writer in me sits at my desk, cigarette in hand, glass of whiskey and Coke at my side, wanting to type out my sorrow -- but "sorrow" is a stupid word, it doesn't begin to describe this hollowness I feel as if some unknown hand has reached into my belly and cut out my very soul and left me empty inside...

But I feel the need to relate the events of this past week, to all you faithful readers, who have supported me and given me such comfort these past four + long years.

On Tuesday, Bob was fine. Did his exercises, his speech therapy at home.  The week before we had visited a doctor to get the results of his lung CAT scan, Bob had been sounding a bit more "gurgly" than usual and I was worried about another bout of pneumonia, but the doc had given him an "all clear" for pneumonia, the scan had looked good except for the chronic fluid accumulation in Bob's right lower lung lobe. This had been an ongoing problem since the stroke, when he suffered a pulmonary embolism that had collapsed that lung completely. Since then, the lower lung lobe always retained a bit of fluid, but the doctor called this his "baseline", said it was "chronic condition" and told me not to worry.

On Wednesday, Bob said he was "tired".  He slept in and I let him.  I certainly had plenty to do, laundry, cleaning etc.  I woke him up at noon for his noon meds and asked him if he wanted to dress and/or get up in his wheelchair, but he said he was still "tired" and just wanted to change into fresh pajamas.  Concerned, I took his blood pressure and his temperature.  His BP was fine and his temp slightly elevated (98.9) and I checked the pee in his bag and it looked, maybe, a little darker than it should, which concerned me a little bit, worried that he might be getting another UTI.

I asked Bob how he felt and he said "Fine".

The urologist had given me a script for Cipro and said that if I suspected another UTI, to give Bob a two day dose to "knock it out" at the onset and if that didn't work, then come in to see the doctor. So, to be safe, I started him on the Cipro.  I also gave him a breathing treatment with his nebulizer. He fell back to sleep, but rallied round about 5:00 p.m. I noticed then he seemed to trembling a bit.  I retook BP and temp (99) and asked him how he felt and he said "fine". He still sounded gurgly so I gave him another breathing treatment. I was growing concerned, kept asking him if he was OK, if I needed to take him to the hospital, but he kept reassuring me he was "fine" and did not want to go to the hospital and when I said, "you don't seem fine to me", he looked at me, a sort of sideways glance and said, "I'm happy, happy, HAPPY!!  Oooh-kay?"

He then fed Zenith & Ripley some treats. We watched a movie. He fell asleep before the movie ended. I still thought his breathing didn't sound good and gave him another breathing treatment, and before I went to bed, I gave him the second dose of Cipro, then suctioned out his mouth with the suction machine.  I was worried, but he assured me so many times he was "fine" and said that he did not want to go to the hospital.  I told myself if he wasn't better in the morning, I'd take him to the ER.  And I went to sleep.

At around 4:00 a.m., I woke up and the room was quiet, and I thought "good, his breathing is better, the Cipro is working" and fell back to sleep.

Then morning came, and he was gone.

Just like that.

I still can't believe it.

I did shake him, I did try to wake him up, I did scream his name at the top of my lungs. But he didn't wake up.

I will say that he looked peaceful, like an angel, like he was still sleeping with his eyes at half-mast. His sheets were still tucked in as I had left them.  It did not look as if he had struggled or suffered.  It seemed as if he had just slipped away.

I did call 911, and the dispatcher wanted me to start CPR, and she first directed me to "get him on the floor" which I tried, following her directions, to pull the sheets around him and pull him off the side of the bed, then when that didn't work, she told me to pull his feet, to pull him off the bed that way. But I couldn't move him and really, I knew, already it was too late -- he was so stiff and by that time the paramedics arrived.

The paramedics got out a defibrillator and started to put the paddles on Bob's chest, only to stop before they completed connecting him, to tell me that they were "sorry" and "my husband had already passed."

Zenith, his beloved cat, would not leave his side, even when the men in black from the funeral home came to take his body.  I had to scoop that cat out of his bed, and she struggled out of my arms and followed the stretcher to the door.

Zenith has since stopped eating, has been vomiting again and hiding under furniture.  I had to call the vet who brought IV fluids and anti-vomit shots, and something to stimulate her appetite, B12 shots and an antibiotic (just in case) plus a "kitty calming collar" to reduce her stress. She is finally coming around but is on three new meds and I have to give her IV fluids every other day....

We are all grieving here at The Pink House.  Boomer paces the floors.  Ripley sleeps on Bob's hospital bed.  Zenith is sick.  And I am just lost.

And, I tell you, I am beating myself up for not insisting he go to the hospital the night before.....


And thank you, all of you, for your kind comments and emails.  I do appreciate them.