More regarding July 4, 2001
Dr. Mims, the neurosurgeon, came to see me around 8 p.m., I think.
Practically the first thing he said was, "I'm going to be honest with you, I don't think he's going to make it."
I choked back my tears. I can't remember what I said, or whether I said anything. He told me that Jeremy had suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage, that the brain was bleeding. "The problem," he said, "is that your brain is totally encased by the skull" and so there's no place for the blood to go. The excess blood causes enormous pressure, the pressure shuts off bloodflow to brain tissue, with bloodflow the tissue begins to die.
"If he were elderly…" Dr. Mims said, he'd have a better chance. As we get older, the brain actually atrophies, leaving a little bit of room between the brain and the skull, increasing the odds of survival. But not so in Jeremy's case.
I must have asked, "what next…?"
The next step was for Dr. Mims and company to perform a surgical procedure, whose name even then eluded me, to relieve the bleeding in the brain. Basically it was a matter of inserting a number of tubes that would allow the excess fluid to drain. After that they would perform an angiogram to try to determine what was causing the bleeding.
I think I told him to go for it.
And then I started making calls. I can't really recall the order in which they occurred. Before it was all over I must have made hundreds of them.
I tried calling Ron and Becky but I only got their voicemail. I called Steve at J&L's house and told him I needed to go home to get the kids and bring them to the hospital. I called Jocelin, Jeremy's sister, and told her what was up - although I'm not altogether sure I conveyed the gravity of the situation. I called David and Emily to tell them that Jeremy was in the hospital and that they were taking care of him. By that point probably half an hour had elapsed and Steve hadn't shown up, so I called Rich and Ginny, our landlords, and asked if they could pick up David and Emily and bring them to St. Luke's. It turned out Rich had to take someone to the airport but Ginny could do it and she did. I called Steve back and told him to come to the hospital directly instead.
Ginny brought David and Emily. "He's OK, isn't he?" David asked and I had to say "no." One of the hardest things I've ever had to do was watching his and Emily's faces crumple in pain and grief. Jeremy was their dad just as much as I was, and had been for at least half their lives. And then it was the same with Steve. And the same with Ron and Becky when they called.
Becky and Ron said they would get there as soon as possible, that they'd try the airport first, and that if they couldn't get a flight, they'd drive. And they'd figure out how to get to the hospital.
We waited and waited. How long? What did we do? I don't remember now. At some point I'll ask Becky and everyone if they can fill in details. I know that Becky started writing her own journal about all of this within a couple of days of it happening.
Around 11 or so Dr. Mims returned. "We nearly lost him" were his first words, but he'd been stabilized. The angiogram had revealed a very large aneursym of the inner carotid artery - it was still spurting, in fact. He offered only one possibility, namely, inducing a deep, weeklong coma that might give Jeremy's brain a chance to recuperate, allowing the swelling to subside, etc.
"This is a heroic measure," Dr. Mims cautioned, pointing out that he might not survive being placed in a coma, that if might come out of it a total vegetable, that if he survived all of that there still might be no chance of taking care of the problem, and that if we were lucky enough to get to that point the likelihood of needing intensive rehab work was very high.
"At this point every extra hour is a blessing," I told him. "Go ahead and start."
Not long after that the four of us - me, David and Emily, and Steve - went to see him in the ICU. He looked like he was sleeping, that was all, except for the fact that there were tubes and monitors everywhere, and they'd shaved part of his head. We all agreed that Jeremy would NOT approve of the look, although the judicious application of some brightly colored hair dye would probably ameliorate the situation.
The kids and Steve looked like they were about to fall over and I knew I was. I was kind of anxious, too, about whether Ron and Becky had been able to get a flight, whether they might need for us to pick them up at the airport.
So we left him there. Should I have done so? Should I have stayed? I don't know. I just know that I was thinking, "He's got the best doctors and nurses in the world, there's nothing I can really do for him, and these guys need to go home."
Steve drove us to J&L's so that I could pick up the car, then he and Emily drove home while David and I took the Subaru. On the way back to our place, I told David, "What it boils down to is this - Life is wonderful but it sucks. And this is the sucky part."
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