Monday, December 12, 2011

Is he?

The next few days are all a blur to me. I can remember some parts so vividly that I wake up panicking, feeling what I felt in that moment over again, and other moments, I can't seem to remember clearly.

I remember that his mother and I held him from both sides. Loving him, praying, crying. I have never cried so hard. My entire face and neck were actually sore from sobbing. I remember talking to Jalfred, telling him all that he meant to me. I told him sorry for letting him join the army, sorry that this happened. I told him that I knew he loved me so much. I told him how much I needed him. I told him everything. I just talked to him. When I was alone with him, I would sing to him. I would use our little mushy voices that we always used with each other- he loved that.

His mother and I slept here and there. Always laying on his arms. We didn't sleep very much at all. I remember dozing off and Jalfred's mom saying "Katie!" I thought that Jalfred was waking up or moving or I raised my head quickly, only to see blood pouring from Jalfred's mouth. I ran to get the nurse. She suctioned him, and then I couldn't go back to sleep. I remember just staring at Jalfred's vital signs, praying they would regulate. Praying that his ICP would go down. Praying for a miracle still.

The nurse would come in to perform assessments on my baby every so often. She would check PERRLA...which means his pupils are reactive. They constrict when light hits them and dilate when its dark...Jalfred's eyes didn't. His eyes just stayed dilated. Me being in nursing, I knew what that meant...
The nurse would also assess other criteria for brain death. I saw Jalfred pass two tests. He coughed once when they did his gag reflex, and his eyes would twitch when they would touch his eyeball with a cotton swab. But he lost those too. I watched him slowly lose every bit of brain function he had left.
It was so traumatic to watch this happen. To see my hunny laying there so helpless when he is so strong. I watched as Jalfred died even more. Questions raised in my head. Was he already dead? Where is that line between life and death? It was so confusing and I still can't wrap my mind around it. Was he gone on the 10th or the 13th? The surgeons told us that when the bullet hit Jalfred, it took who Jalfred was with it...that Jalfred really had no chance of ever coming back, even if he "survived."

It was time for more tests to be done. The doctor and Jalfred's neurosurgeon did a clnical bedside assessment and said they could technically pronounce him dead then because he failed every single test. But they gave us an option to have a perfusion scan of his brain and another test called an apnea test done as well. We chose to do all the tests possible so that we would be sure.

As they were preparing to do the apnea test, the nurse explained what was going to happen to me and his mom. She told us that is really difficult to watch and that we could if we wanted to, but we didn't have to. We chose to watch for ourselves, but the nurse was very right. It was so hard. They took Jalfred off of the ventilator for ten minutes. Theres a bunch of things they do so that he's technically getting enough oxygen, but he's not breathing. The test was to see if his brainstem would initiate breathing on its own. For ten minutes we watched intently...waiting to see his chest rise and didn't. And by then, I knew that it wasn't. I knew Jalfred wasn't coming back, he was gone. He looked so broken, tired, weary, sick, he looked dead. I knew. Yet I stilled prayed to God for a miracle. Please God let his chest rise and fall, let him breath, make him recover fully. For ten minutes, nothing. They connected him back to the ventilator.

The next morning it was time for his brain perfusion scan. It was two hours long. We went back to the fisher house and showered. It had been a while at that point. Then we went to the cafeteria and "ate." We hadn't eaten the whole time. We had no appetite whatsoever. The whole time sitting in the cafe, I just looked down at my heart-shaped engagement ring. It is so beautiful...All I could think of is how my baby and I can never be married, can never be together like how we were suppose to. I thought about how my baby is upstairs, getting a test, one that will determine absolute brain death. I just stared at my ring and all it symbolized to me- love.

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