I'll write an actual obit soon. The one we did is nice, succinct. I just don't have the time right now.
My dad, Timothy Michael Lyons, passed away rather suddenly on Saturday, May 12, 2007 around noon, after an all-too-brief illness. The official word we're getting is a type of acute asymptomatic pneumonia precipitated his body shutting down. In other words, his lungs were 90% full of fluid and he didn't feel lousy until it knocked him on his ass Thursday night. They sedated and intibated (sp?) him, and thanks to the medications they had him on to attempt retardation of the apparent organ decompensations, his pupils were fixed and dialated so by early Friday morning, we had doctors telling us he was likely brain-dead. I'd really like to know if they bothered to scan his brain before telling us that, because the Irish in Dad showed itself right after that. They moved him to the Heart Hospital floor at Baptist, and my husband was kind enough to notice that it seemed like he was trying to open his eyes (which they had taped). The medical personnel implied that it could be a latent neurological response, like when coma victims cry, but we persisted and sure enough, he regained consciousness and displayed coherence. They had him on paralytics so it was a while before he could move, but when he did, we were able to communicate with him. He responded to our questions and statements with eye blinks, shoulder shrugs, and moving of his legs.
But his organs wouldn't bounce back and the edema progressed in his upper body, especially from them having to prop him head lower than body to precipitate blood flow to his major organs. His head and neck became heartbreakingly bloated. By Friday evening, he was getting more uncomfortable (from the organ failure), and he was slowing down; his heartbeat was irregular from the time he hit the ER and his blood pressure was too low and wouldn't stabilize. It was a long night of watching, waiting, staring at his monitors, and exuding love through our pores. We performed last rites on Friday night and took communion. We continued to talk to him, telling him how much we loved him, and as it got later, that it was ok to let go, that we'd be ok. They began to increase his morphine to combat his pain, and he stopped being responsive.
Saturday morning we ordered an EEG to assess his brain activity. It was what we expected, but we all needed to hear it; there was brain activity, but unfortunately, his body was not going to sustain life much longer and it would be a case of hours, not days. We'd already made the decision against life-saving measures like CPR or defibrillation, but we knew he wouldn't want to linger. We signed the paperwork to remove him from his medications (thankfully, they don't necessarily "pull the plug," because he'd be gasping for air as he passed). Everyone went to grab a breath of fresh air or a bathroom break before gathering in his room to say final goodbyes. Dad had other plans. My brother went into his room, kissed his forehead, said goodbye, and Dad flatlined on his own.
I've never experienced such pain. There's a chasm where my heart used to be. My feet are planted firmly in Kubler-Ross's first step of grief: denial. I'm a bit fascinated actually by how my brain can understand the reality of the situation, while at the same time revel in this place where it's blitheringly inconceivable to me that I'll never see him again in this life. The ache is scream-worthy, and I finally did some of that after the funeral conference at the church this morning. I pray it'll be a shade easier come Monday, because the idea of working in my cube at the office again fills me with an impatience that hasn't yet been calculated by modern measurement devices.
Pray for me and my family please in these next weeks. We will be transporting his ashes to Norwalk, CT, on June 1 for a memorial service and burial in the family plot at St. Johns Cemetery in Norwalk on June 2. It'll be good to see people, and I'll get my visit with Nanie that I obsess about, even on this blog. But that ache isn't going away anytime soon, and regular life is a trial. Thank you guys so much for your healing thoughts.