Saturday, March 24, 2007

1 year today

1 year ago today life as we know it ended.
1 year ago today my heart broke into pieces never to be whole again.
1 year ago today my son became an only child again.
1 year ago today my baby became an angel.
1 year ago today my little angel went to heaven.
1 year ago today.

What else can I say about that Friday? It was a scary day. Kendra's temperature started fluctuating madly around lunchtime I think. Then it dropped and she became very cold. They used this blanket on her which had hot air pumped into it to keep her warm. It was attached by a great big pipe to a machine that looked like a vacuum cleaner which made a bit of a racket and pumped hot air in. She was still moaning all the time. At one point and I still see this in my mind all the time, she opened her eyes and looked straight at me for a few minutes and I could see so much pain in those eyes. When I remember that look I can actually sit back and think that I am glad that she does not have to suffer any more. Such pain.

At about 5pm she seemed to be doing a bit better. Her temperature had stabilised a bit so I went and had some tea in the canteen with a friend. Then the doctor came and told me that she thought she was improving and that she was happy with her condition. They had finally pinpointed what they thought she had and the treatment she was getting was correct for what she had. It is called Haemolytic Uremic Syndrome and is apparently very rare in SA as it is more commonly found in the UK. Go figure! Trust Kendra to have another rare syndrome! We could probably beat ourselves up about where she may have contracted this bacteria but what would be the point. What's done is done and we will never know. Just as I could say it was my fault for taking her to Branston's carnival the week before in the cold wind and stayed much longer than I should have. That type of thing is pointless.

Anyway, the doctor left, happy that she would not worry over the weekend as she was happy with Kendra's progress. Little did she know. At about 6pm one of the nurses turned Kendra over into a different position and she seemed to be much happier. She stopped moaning and actually seemed to be peaceful for the first time all day. This is why I decided to quickly go home and have supper with Gathry and Branston. Poor Branston needed a bit of attention. So I went home and Gathry picked Branston up from school and went to KFC to get some food. I phoned my mom to update her and while I was on the phone with her my cellphone rang. It was the hospital. I will never forget that nurse/sister. Obviously she was stressed but she just made as if how could I not be in the hospital? 'Where are you? You have to come back right now. Your baby has taken a turn for the worse'. So I said goodbye to my mom (heaven only knows what she must have been thinking) , phoned Gathry (he had not ordered food yet) and rushed off to the hospital. I put on my hazards and went through a red robot to get there.

Gathry and Branston were already there when I got there but they could not go into ICU because of Branston. I went in but halfway across a nurse turned me around and took me out again saying that the doctor and trauma team were busy with her. They took us to a waiting room, then friends came and fetched Branston and it was just the 2 of us, waiting. That is the worst wait you can possibly have, when you know in your heart that the news is going to be bad but just hope against all hope that it will be ok. Well, it was not ok. After what seemed like a lifetime, the doctor arrived and said 'I have some bad news for you'. I just looked at him. I think I was thinking it must just be that she worsened or something, she can't possibly be dead! It is impossible. Not my baby. He then said that she had thrown up blood and then her heart stopped and they tried to resuscitate her for about 40 minutes. Then it started to sink in. She really was dead. We were in the waiting room for a while longer, I can't remember what else was said. Then I said 'I want to see my baby' and a nurse came and her and the doctor took us through. I still remember everyone staring at us because it was visiting hour and of course we were in a state. I feel sorry for the other people in ICU actually. It could not have been pleasant for them, but then ICU is not pleasant is it?

Kendra was in a little room at the end of the ICU ward with glass walls so you could see in and hear everything. They had curtained it off but did not close the door. My little baby was lying there on the bed, still with some tubes in her. The doctor removed them, I don't know why they did not take them all out when they cleaned her up before we came in. I sat holding her in that armchair for a long while. She looked so peaceful.

We phoned my sister and she came over. I asked her to phone my mom. Gathry phoned his parents. His dad was, by coincidence, in hospital in PE for a minor op. Then he had to convince his mom not to come down to CT until his dad was out of hospital. The nurses cam and asked us if we had a funeral home to call. Of all the stupid things! Like we normally keep the name and number of our chosen funeral home in our wallets or something. So they gave us a few options and we chose one in Bellville as there apparently wasn't one in our area (found out later that there was). They said that the funeral home would fetch her immediately, do we want to wait until they get there. Well, I certainly did not want to see them take my baby away. So eventually we left. Breaking the news to Branston later was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. How do you tell a child that his beloved sister is not coming home?

It is amazing how the feelings of those months afterwards have come flooding back this week. I never realized how much better I have been feeling this year until those same old feelings came flooding back. And physically how it has hit me. I have been feeling weak, nauseous and tired all week. Maybe the stress of weddings and new cars had something to do with it too. But I think writing it all down has helped. Does it make a difference that other people are reading this? Would it be better to do it all in a private journal? I don't know. I think sharing is good, it's cathartic. Later today we are going to the memorial park and then we are having some friends over to watch world cup cricket (SA vs Australia, big game today). It might seem strange but I think we need to have something to take our minds off the day for a bit. Thank you for reading.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

363 days

The last days continued....(not for sensitive readers)

So, she was admitted to hospital. They put us into the isolation unit in the paediatrics ward, so we had a room to ourselves although we could see the child in the room next door whose parents, by the way, hardly visited him. I really hate it when you see that. I could never leave my child alone in hospital when they are so sick. Anyway, Kendra was put on a drip and as usual they battled to find a vein for the drip. She developed quite a temperature so I had to wipe her down quite a bit. I must say the nursing staff were very good. One of the nurses from the maternity ward even came to visit as she remembered Kendra from when we were there.

They came and did all sorts of tests, I can't really remember what happened when. I think it was the first night that they called in the specialist who had done her op(in 2005) to do a scan and they had to wheel her through to the radiology dept. They had to disconnect her from the room's oxygen supply and take an oxygen tank with. I remember the nurse disconnecting the drip and the doctor freaking out because he said they would have to redo the whole thing and she was saying that it was the type of drip that you can remove and put back without air bubbles. None of which put me at ease with the entire process, I must say, though I was inclined to agree with the nurse as I had seen them do that before. Anyhow, I spent a rather uncomfortable night in the armchair, waking up most times when they came to do stats.

The next day they did some more tests and then the doctor decided to move us to ICU. She said it was because they have better monitoring equipment there but I think that they were not letting on to us how serious it really was. And my poor little baby was so swelled up from the drip as they put so much fluid into her and had her on a really strong antibiotic. They still couldn't tell me exactly what was wrong. In ICU she had a catheter in and you could see clearly that there was blood in her urine. They also put a tube into her stomach to drain fluid as she seemed to have a build up of blood there too. I spent the last night in ICU on yet another armchair. That night I woke up in the middle of the night to see that they had called out the doctor on standby to come and have a look at her. I asked him then about her heart (he is a heart specialist) and he said it seemed fine. I told him that I was concerned that her heart could not take it since there is a risk of heart problems in Jacobsen Syndrome babies. He told me her heart was fine.

So she had tubes all over the show and I knew that she was in a lot of pain most of the time she was in the hospital as she would lie there and moan all the time. Anyone who knew Kendra knew that she was generally a very contented baby (except when camping and at parties, she was not too keen on those) and I believe had quite a high pain threshold as she did not cry a lot. So to hear her moaning constantly like that was truly heartbreaking. I just felt so helpless. My baby was in pain and there was nothing I could do. Yes, I did pester the doctor to increase her pain medication but there was a limit to how much they could give her.

I popped home each morning to have a quick shower and out at night to quickly have supper with Gathry and Branston but other than that stayed at the hospital the whole time. I left poor Gathry to sort out Branston and homework etc. and he also visited regularly so that I could take a bit of a break.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

362 days...

Yes, it is 362 days since my little angel left me. Left us, her family. Exactly a year today since she fell ill. Today was a public holiday. We went for a picnic on a wine farm this year, maybe hoping that being out of the house would make things easier. Well, deja vu, we spent the day with the same people we were with last year, very good friends who have always been there for us, especially immediately afterwards. So who better to spend the day with? Unfortunately the memories persist in coming back along with those rib-tightening feelings of loss and sadness.

The day (last year) began innocently enough. I was trying to get back into shape and decided to take advantage of the holiday to have a marathon session in gym so off I went, knowing the kids were safe in Gathry's capable hands. When I returned our friends were here having popped in for a surprise visit. So we convinced them to stay for lunch and we should have had a marvelous day. Then Kendra started throwing up and developed a bit of a fever. By the afternoon I decided to take her to the doctor and got the doc on standby (not her normal doctor but he knew her condition) to go into the surgery to check her out. I even put on the urine collection bag so that he could check her urine. I had a few spare at home for just this eventuality.

So we took her in (myself and Y) leaving the men to hold the fort. The doc said that Kendra had tonsillitis and prescribed some antibiotics which we picked up from the hospital pharmacy immediately. The urine sample had some slight sign of infection which he said the antibiotics should sort out. Except I could not get her to keep anything down, especially the antibiotics. I tried to give her plenty of fluids but she did not want anything and kept throwing up. I expected to be up all night with her but she actually slept through. Not unusual for her as she always slept through but a bit of a worry when she was sick.

The next morning I could tell that she was really not well as she was very limp and not looking so great. When I took her in to see her normal doctor, she took one look at her and said she was dehydrated and must be admitted to hospital immediately. And so began the last few days of her life and the start of a long period of hell for us. Little did we know that day what was in store for us over the next few weeks and months of our lives.

I have never really gone into much detail about those last few days on this blog and am still not sure how much I can tell you, mainly because much of it is a blur to me. Over the next few days I will be going back down that particular memory lane. Why, you may ask? I don't know. I think I just feel the need to relive it and maybe, just maybe, I can begin to heal. My heart will always be broken but maybe the band-aids holding it together will strengthen and more scar tissue will form and maybe one day I won't need band-aids anymore but one thing I know for sure is that the scars will always be there, maybe slightly less red and vivid over time but always there.

I wanted to tell you about my sister's wedding as well but that can wait for a later post, when I manage to post pictures again (still having problems with blogger) and this crappy time of the year is over.

I also want to say to Tertia how terribly sorry I am. I wish you did not have to go through this and experience those awful feelings again. I will be thinking of you tomorrow. {{{BIG HUG}}}

Friday, March 09, 2007

Group meeting

What a busy week! My in-laws have been visiting the whole week and my mom came down on Tuesday for the Cliff Richard concert. So Tuesday night was Cliff Richard, Wednesday night I went to book club and Thursday night was Special Needs Group. That was rather an emotional meeting. We had a new member so we did the rounds and each told our story. I was fine until I was asked how I am doing now and then tissues had to be handed out. D had a very bad day between organising 3 operations in one, doctor's visits for one, emergency call from school for the other one and then a car which decided to roll back into 2 others. All in one day. Ryan (cerebral palsy, 21 yrs old) gave a lovely speech which had the new mom in tears. Her son was hit by a car last year and he is now brain damaged although they told her that he would not make it and he has amazed them all. M is pregnant and is waiting to find out if the baby has the same syndrome as JP. G also had a bad day but did not go into details. I think it was a support meeting in the true sense of the word.

Certain things came up in the meeting which I must remember to discuss sometime, specifically religion. It can be quite an interesting topic in a group like that. But right now it is hot, late and after very bad service in a restaurant I am going to go to bed. The next week will probably be quite busy as my sister is getting married on the 17th. Tomorrow night is her hen's party which promises to be a lot of fun. And the 24th is looming. I opened my diary of last year to today's date to write something down and in there were the details of Kendra's first visit to the Cherie Botha school. Kind of gets to you.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

14 years!

On Tuesday 27 Feb we were married for 14 years. Can you believe it? 14 years of ups and downs. Generally it has been a good 14 years, well except for the last year. We have been told that losing a child often causes marriages to break up but I can thankfully say that ours has gone from strength to strength. Oh, we have our moments but as time goes by we learn to deal with them better. Gathry has been my rock this last year.

And somehow the significance of the day had me in tears on Tuesday morning. Last year Kendra was here for our anniversary and now she is not. The previous year I was pregnant. So she has been around for 2 anniversaries. The fact that she is no longer here to celebrate with us seems to taint all happy occasions. And now I feel the anniversary of her death looming. Good thing I am going to be quite busy this month so will not have time to dwell on happier times or the happenings of last March. I cannot believe it has been a whole year already. That sucks!

PS: I upgraded to the new version of blogger and have now lost the picture of Kendra in my profile(well, lost the whole profile basically) as I used the same email address for the special needs group and it has taken that profile. So if things look a bit strange on the blog for a while don't be surprised.
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