February Photo Challenge: Love

February is typically the month of love. It’s home to Happy Valentine’s Day….or, as I like to call it….Happy Hallmark Day. PJ’s prompt for February was Love. Perfectly appropriate. For sure Valentine’s Day was filled with selfies of couples enjoying a day celebrating love.

I didn’t get a lot of snaps this month but my post for the prompt will leave little doubt that it follows the theme. This is a love story.

Love 1
On January 30th, my mom’s husband of 35 years falls at home. They are both in their late 80s. Although he didn’t suffer a concussion or injury to his face, the contusion in his brain resulted in brain bleeds in his frontal lobe. He is rushed to the hospital when he becomes confused and talking incoherently. I am called and get ready to drive to Overland Park, KS, not really knowing what I’d find. What I find is a distraught woman who doesn’t understand why this happened to her gentle, loving husband. The next day we drive back to the ICU. She won’t leave his bedside. Prayer chains begin.

Love 2
The hospital with the neuro department needed for brain trauma is 40-45 minutes from their home in an area towards downtown Kansas City called The Country Club Plaza. When we get to the ICU, he is stable, but unable to speak much and comprehends less. Unable to swallow, they opt for an NG tube (nasal gastric tube). The trauma team is not encouraging with their prognosis. She begins to have a crisis of faith. Prayer chains continue.

Love 3
My family had just returned from vacay early Sunday morning, January 28th (a post I have not done yet). The following Tuesday, I hastily rearrange my life to drive 2.5 hours every Tuesday or Wednesday and stay with her until Saturday. Then I drive home for three days. Rinse. Dry. Repeat. While there, I drive her to and from the hospital; stay with her at the hospital as she sits by his bedside; make sure she gets to her doctor appointments and that she is eating meals and attempting to sleep. We begin touring long-term care facilities and navigating the maze of insurance protocols. Two weeks in, little has changed and the prognosis still is not encouraging.  Prayer chains continues.

Love 4
He’s transfers out of ICU to the neuro floor. When I’m not there, other friends and family take turns driving her to his bedside every day. She talks with him and believes he’s beginning to respond to her voice. Speech is minimal and we don’t know how much he actually comprehends. Speech pathology reports are not great. He’s now been bedridden for more than two weeks. Muscles are weakening and he doesn’t participate much in any therapies. He sleeps a lot. She cannot and will not let go. She and I begin to have very hard conversations which result in a lot of crying. After much consideration, she approves a PEG tube, which is a feeding tube directly into his stomach. We get the impression the medical staff is not hopeful. Palliative Care shows up to talk. She continues to sit by his bedside every day. Prayer chains go into their third week.
After unexpected complications in surgery on February 17th, he returns to his room. Something clicks. The next day, he comes out of anesthesia and begins to form very simple, coherent sentences. He recognizes her and gives her a kiss when she leans over him. He begins to recognize other family members. Still experiencing hyper-sensitivity to pain and discomfort due to the brain trauma, he is verbalizing more and his vocabulary increases when the nurses reposition him in bed….$%#@! At this time, It’s still unknown whether the trauma team and therapies will recommend skilled nursing rehab or go immediately to long-term care based on his unresponsiveness when they come in to evaluate him. Calls to SNF and long-term care facilities go unanswered or they decline based on his medical needs. Prayer chains continue into the fourth week.

Love 5
February 22nd, we receive a call from a facility that agrees to take him into skilled nursing rehab the next day. A third of the distance from their home, my mom can now drive herself to see him. She washes his face and shaves his whiskers. As I write this, he has a mountain to climb with skilled nursing rehab and no one knows if he’ll be able to do it. He seems to comprehend and you can see it in his eyes, but the words and actions are slow to come…if they come at all. He has good days and bad days….as to be expected with brain trauma. The social worker at the hospital tells me he surprised a lot of people who didn’t believe he’d get this far.  

Love Bonus
As I come back to finish this post, the news is not good. Early morning on Tuesday, February 28th, my mom’s husband of 35 years was called to his eternal rest. Was it fair he left the world this way? I don’t know. While we were hoping he would improve, the reality is that the bleed did a lot of damage to his brain and he may not have ever been able to recover enough to have decent quality of life. And, while it doesn’t seem right for God to take him away from her when we all had so much hope, perhaps it was a more loving thing to do rather than have her watch him continue to decline and then have to make an impossible decision. Truth is he was going downhill but she didn’t want to see it. Maybe this way was better even though it comes with an insurmountable amount of pain right now.

There are many examples of love in this story: love of God; love between spouses; love between families; love among the faith community. The Superfecta  of Love.

This are my five for PJ’s Love prompt for February’s PBC. I’m sure others have lovely pics for this month so please stop in and check them out on March 1st.


11 thoughts on “February Photo Challenge: Love

  1. What a heartbreaking journey. I do love that he was lucent in between being more or less absent. He probably knew it was his chance to say goodbye and *I love you* to his wife and family.
    I am very sorry for your loss. 💔

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As I catch up on past challenges, this is one of the first ones. And now that we are a month past this, I can’t express my condolences enough. Your words, faith, and ability to help and be compassionate are amazing well beyond any words I can express. This truly was a beautiful piece, albeit a sad one in the end.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: May Photo Challenge: Tell a Story | Peripheral Perceptions

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