November 13 – 14, 2013
I can’t even remember now what the pastor and I talked about while we waited. Less than half an hour had passed and then a nurse came to see me and told me the procedure went well – there was no arterial damage. JD was back in the ICU and someone would come to take me to see him when he was settled in.
The pastor left at my urging and I decided to try my luck at one of the other waiting rooms across the hall, hoping to find one that was empty. I really needed some quiet space to process all that was happening and hopefully stop my brain from whirling quite so much.
Initially I was lucky. I turned off the fluorescent lights in the room and sat, in the far corner by a window that looked onto a pebbled roof and the exterior portion of the hospital’s HVAC system, on the fake leather and chrome settee. By now it must have been about 3 pm.
It only took a couple of minutes before my sanctuary was invaded by an excited and loud trio of Portuguese-speaking women, one of whom who immediately fired all the lights back on and then smiled at me (in apology?) once I was noticed in the corner.
I grabbed my coat, laptop bag and purse, and went in search of quiet. None was to be found on the floor and back I went, to my original corner, and inserted my ear buds to drown out the non-stop chatter of the women. I found Leonard Cohen’s Live in London on my phone’s play list and tried to read something since any kind of thinking was now out of the question. Within the first couple of songs, I was nodding off. Exhaustion had finally caught up with me.
A part of my brain that was still awake registered someone standing in the doorway of the waiting room. It was one of JD’s doctors – Dr. Chernish, the respirologist. I shook my head vigorously in an attempt to wake up the rest of my brain as he led me away to a private consultation room. God, this cannot be good news is what I remember thinking.
We have to talk about life support, is how he started the conversation. Things are not going well. We are out of options for JD, he continued. JD, being the fighter that you and I know he is, wants life support but ultimately the decision is yours and if it was my family member I wouldn’t do it. You will only be making it harder for yourself later, when you have to remove the life support. There is also a strong likelihood JD will not even survive the transition to life support.
These are the highlights of what this man said to me.
My brain went into hyper-practical mode almost immediately, and I told the doctor I had to alert the family. I dialled JD’s sister at her home in Mississauga. Drop everything and get in your car now, I said. Pick up your dad and come to the ICU at the hospital. Things are bad.
Then I called my mom and fell apart, bawling that I had to decide on whether or not to put JD on life support. Luckily she was in town visiting my stepdad’s son, and only 5 minutes from the hospital. She was coming as quickly as she could.
I put myself back together and turned back to face the doctor. OK, I said to Dr. Chernish. I want to uphold JD’s wishes but I understand what you are saying. Can I see him now?