Monthly Archives: February 2014
A year ago, Adam had a stroke after surviving hypothermia, during a flash flood in the dead of winter. Since then, he has struggled daily to eat. The stroke left him weak on the left side of his entire body and caused his throat to partially collapse. I’ve watched him slowly dwindle away over the past 12 months. For the last three months Adam was very sick. Dropping weight much faster and unable to eat at all, he became so weak and frail that I was able to pick him up, despite him being half a foot taller than me. He couldn’t shower or dress alone. I didn’t know it but, I was doing more than lifting him up in my arms. I was carrying his spirit with me. He was dying. Unable to feed himself, losing precious nutrients and struggling to breathe, he couldn’t recharge his own life force. As his partner, I began to channel my own energy into him. The sicker he got, the stronger my focus became, until keeping him alive became so much of a focus it turned into tunnel vision.
Something in me had been set in motion. It was like life support. I went to work, but a part of me stayed home with Adam. I went to sleep, but part of me stayed awake, because he couldn’t sleep. If I did see flashes of energy, it was always somehow connected to his organs. There was constant cleansing going on, but never enough. Then around the middle of January, everything came to a head. Like a big puss blister, the filth that was killing him emerged.
January 15th he asked me to take him to the ER. He had been extremely thirsty for a month, so much that I wondered if he could be diabetic. He had been coughing up fluid and struggling to breathe for about a week, and then vomiting without any nausea those last two days. His whole body violently shook, as if he would convulse any moment. His skin turned grayish yellow. He was immediately taken back, assessed, and the ER doctor sent him to get a chest x-ray and a CT scan of his abdomen. The news was the worst. The doctor told him he would die soon. He had pneumonia, pancreatitis, colitis, was in heart failure, having a heart attack. All of the organs in his abdomen were already shut down. He was expected to die during the night, within hours.
For some reason, we were both very calm when we got that news. Adam, shaking so bad he could barely sit up, told the doctor in emaciated, short breaths “I’m not going to die.” It was in his eyes. Despite everything, a small light. The hospital staff recognized that light. They wanted him to live as much as he did. As much as I did.
In less than 2 hours, he was admitted to the ICU, started on fluids and given insulin by IV, because his pancreas had shut down. He had an 800 blood sugar. They started him on two IV antibiotics, because his white blood cell count was extremely high. They gave him an injection of heparin in his abdomen. His vitals stabilized, but were showing signs of severe cardiac distress. His heart and lungs, still filled with fluid, were now trying to do the job of everything in his body. Even his brain stopped working like it should have. Sometime around 1 am, he started talking gibberish, randomly putting words together to make a sentence. I could see in his eyes, he knew very clearly what he was trying to say, but what was coming out made no sense. “Did we win?” “December mirage 12.” “78 omelet taco.” He told me about seeing two people in the corner of the ICU room – a woman and a man. No one was physically there, but I do not doubt he saw two people who were watching and waiting for him. Adam had one foot in this world and the other in the next. He had a choice – to be at peace and cross over, or to live and fight a great fight. Either way, those angels were there for him, and they stayed there all night.
At around 2 am, he couldn’t talk anymore. He mumbled, sticking out his tongue and rolling it around. He was still clearly thinking. His eyes told me that he was still in there, so despite his actions, I wasn’t afraid for him. To be honest, I was completely calm. This was like watching the end, and then a rebirth. Like watching a caterpillar transform into a butterfly. It made me think about what goes on inside a butterfly’s cocoon… it’s safe for a time, hidden from the world, but then the time comes for great change. How it must hurt for soft tissue to transform into knuckled appendages…to grow wings and antennae, in the muck and mucus that is feeding you when you are trapped, unable to breathe. It is a process that must be so painful…agonizing, but necessary for the morphing creature within the shell to unfold, break free, breath new air in new lungs, to be more aware of its place in the world, and then escape. It was like that for Adam, and I think on some level, he was aware of everything.
For a few hours between 2 am and 6 am, Adam completely lost his regal, philosophical, musically talented, culturally enriched, and beautiful mind. I kept a vigil as he lost the words to communicate. He kept his eyes on me, until his body slipped into a coma at about sunrise January 16th. This was the time for his rejuvenation. Ultimate rest, for the shedding of the killing filth. I dozed off on the couch in his room when his eyes closed, and slept two hours.
At around 8 am, the ER staff came up to the ICU and quietly checked in on my sleeping beloved. They were amazed at his strength. One woman cried tears of joy with me. Even as he still slept, we both knew Adam had new life. During his deep sleep, his organs started working again. One that first day, his pancreas started to work, then his liver, then his kidneys, stomach, and finally his intestines.
He started talking and making sense at around 9 am. His vitals, and consistent blood tests showed a one step forward, two steps back kind of progress. Blood sugars came down on their own, and then went up, and then down again. His liver enzymes came down, and went up again, and came back down. His white blood cell count was coming down, blood pressure starting coming down, pulse came down, and by midday, the urge to urinate (not in a bottle but in a toilet) miraculously got him up. Through it all, the nurses kept a vigil, giving heparin, insulin now “as needed”, and changing the IV bags of fluid and antibiotics. He was able to eat and keep down a clear liquid diet on the second day, and then full liquids, and then he started to feel hunger, and wanted to eat solids. He asked to be weighed, wondering how much weight he had lost in the past year. He weighed in at 133. That means he lost 56 pounds. I remember walking the ICU halls that day, looking for a nurse to fix an IV occlusion that I couldn’t fix, passing by patients in those other rooms…my mind registered that they all had one eerie thing in common with Adam. Their skin was grayish yellow.
By this time, his progress became lightening fast. By the end of the second day in ICU, his pancreas was working at 100% without insulin, his liver was working at about 80%, his skin was quickly returning to a normal hue, and he was transferred to a recovery room on the 4th floor where he would stay until discharged.
While on the 4th floor, Adam received three “banana bags” of vitamins and minerals. The IV antibiotics were continued until the last minute on his last day (January 20th), just to make sure the bacteria that caused his pneumonia was completely obliterated. His liver enzymes slowly came down. By day 3 he was asking to be wheeled outside for some fresh air. By day 4, he was walking the hospital floor at least three times a day. and by day 5 when he was discharged, he was walking every few hours or so around the clock.
When he was being discharged, the ER staff again came up to meet him, and shake his hand. For Adam, this was the first time he remembered seeing them since he was in their care. I don’t know how to say thank you for saving his life. To the dr’s, nurses, the people who prayed for him like warriors, some of them our friends and family, and some who don’t even know him personally. That to me is the sign of true love – to give without condition or expectation. The miracle continues, as he is now eating, with a vigorous appetite, able to swallow much better now than he has in a year, and he’s regaining weight. He was given extra time. We were given extra time. Here’s to new life…