Victor didn’t make it out of ICU in 10 days, he had complication after complication plus kidney failure and was on put on dialyses, then his bowels stopped working and he was given a colostomy. Eventually they did a tracheotomy which to me signified I was losing him; I had told myself as long as he didn’t have a tracheotomy he would be ok; it seemed as soon as any patient got a trach their condition worsened quickly and they would get pneumonia and often die. I saw so much death all around me every day.
My friends couldn’t keep passing Kristofer around so my folks helped out with babysitting expenses and I hired a woman who was good friends with my friend Teri, Marge who loved Kris to pieces and she couldn’t have children of her own. I got into a routine; barring Victor having any set backs, I would get up around 5 and Kris would wake up about 5:30-6, I would give him his morning bottle, change him and he would go back to sleep. I would be out of the house by 7, drop him at the sitters and be at the hospital by 9 am. I would stay with Victor until 1:30-2 sometimes as late as 3, but any later than 3 I would get stuck in rush hour traffic. If I left by 2 I would be back in Chilliwack by 3:30-4. I would pick Kristofer up from the sitters and have the evening with him, he would have his last bottle at 11 often times we would fall asleep together on the couch; I didn’t want to put him to bed and loved to have him sleep in my arms.
After I put him to bed I would have a glass of wine, write in my journal, clean the house do laundry, make formula, pack Kris’s bag for the next day and be in bed by about 1 am. Kris would usually sleep until 5:30 and then we would do it all again the next day. I stayed home one day and my dad went in my place, I baked chocolate chip cookies for the nurses and they were thrilled.
That’s another little trick I learned, if you want a family member in the hospital to get a lot of attention make sure you have a candy dish in their room; it works believe me.
I took a 1/2 day off to get some paper work done, like apply for sick benefits for Victor because his work benefits would run out soon I had to go to the unemployment office. The woman I was to meet with walked out and said,”Hi, I’m xxxxx xxxxxx,” and just stood there looking at me like she was waiting for a reaction. The name sounded familiar but I couldn’t place it so I said,” Hi, I’m Carrie Ouellette”. She led me into her office and closed the door; she said, “you don’t know who I am do you?” I shrugged and she said, “I am the woman who ran over your husband.” And she started to cry. “I am so sorry, I didn’t know, I thought he was a green garbage bag, but I knew when I ran over him…..” I thought I was going to throw up right there in her office and I must have gone ghostly white because I felt the blood drain from my face. Apparently she had been leaving the hospital just as I was going in the night of Victor’s accident, I remembered seeing her then. There were 3 women leaving the hospital as I walked in and they had looked at me and one of them had seemed like she wanted to say something and then the other women walked her outside. It had crossed my mind that maybe it was a woman Victor was seeing but I put it out of my mind; but it had been in the back of my mind ever since. She had also called the hospital to talk to me to offer for me the use of an apartment she had in Vancouver but I hadn’t taken her up on the offer because all my friends were in Chilliwack and with Kristofer I needed the help of my friends.
I assured her I didn’t blame her but it did make for an awkward meeting and then she had to tell me that I was cut off my EI Benefits because obviously if my husband was as sick as Victor was I couldn’t be looking for work.
With him on 60% of his wages and me not getting anything we were in dire straits financially, but his co-workers passed the hat twice and came over with a couple thousand dollars, the motorcycle club disbanded and gave us what the club had in the bank at the time which amounted to around $1300, like I said my friend Teri paid our mortgage once.
When I got back to the hospital the next day I walked in like I always did just in time to hear “Clear!!” and watch them using the paddles on Victor because he had gone into cardiac arrest.
I guess I got to be quite a bitch to deal with over time, I watched everything everyone did and didn’t do and had no problem speaking up for Victor. One nurse had decided to give him a shave and cut his mustache off; his mustache was Victor, he used to wax it when we got dressed up and because his nose had been broken so many times he had scars that the mustache hid. To me she had violated him and I was spitting mad. After that no one shaved him but me. He had been rubbing his head against the sheets and rubbed the back of his head almost bald. I asked why he would be doing that and the nurse said probably because he has gravel and blood and stuff in his hair. No one had washed his hair and he’d been in there a couple of weeks! So I found a tray for washing hair and I washed his hair, next thing I knew I was getting the tray for other wives and even washed the hair of the guy next to Victor.
I had taken to sleeping with Victor’s housecoat because it smelled like him. One night I got his housecoat and snuggled it around myself and realized it didn’t smell like him any more. I lost it and started to panic, I went and got one of his shirts, I ran around the house grabbing things and smelling them, nothing smelled like him. I called my girlfriend Teri hysterical babbling about nothing smelling like Victor. She called my mom and told her she needed to get over to me asap. My mom arrived in her pajama’s, I told her what was wrong and she went into the bathroom got Victor’s cologne. She asked for Victor’s housecoat, dabbed some of his cologne around the collar and handed it back to me. So simple.
They had used a metal cage to set Victor’s pelvis and it protruded quite a ways out of him, he kept trying to pull it out and would wrench it this way and that until they had to tie him down. He was in such excruciating pain they tried to put him in a drug induced coma but the drugs were just absorbed by the pain. They were supposed to take him to the o.r. to do his dressing changes and I found out they hadn’t been and had just given him Demerol and morphine and then 3 orderlies had to hold him down to change his bandages.
Totally inhumane!!I blew up!! I said I didn’t want him in pain and they said that if they took him to the o.r. He would be too doped up to visit with me. They said that most wives didn’t want their husbands doped up when they came to visit. I was incredulous; I would be so selfish that I would want the man I love to be in agony because I wanted to “visit”? I said, “I am not here to “visit”, I am here to make sure my husband is comfortable and taken care of, give him what ever it takes to make him comfortable.” They said they had given him enough to kill a horse and I said give him enough to kill an elephant then.
Like I said I was monitoring his vital signs and from my notes he was brewing an infection. It was a Sunday and I was going to stay home but something kept telling me I should be going to the hospital. My dad offered to go in my place but I felt I had to go myself. I got there and Victor was writhing in pain, his stomach was swollen like a poisoned puppy, so far that it was pressing against the bars of the brace that held his pelvis together and he smelled like a garbage can that had been left out in the sun. I checked his vital signs and it was obvious he had an infection somewhere. I went to the nurse and asked what was being done about it and she said nothing, there were no doctors on duty to deal with it. Victor had many doctors, the bone, internal, heart, etc and none of them would take responsibility for the infection. His main surgeon was the bone specialist and I demanded the nurse call him and she said he was golfing and couldn’t disturb him. I said, “you call him or I am going to drive to every fucking golf course until I find him and I will bring him in here myself; you are not leaving my husband to rot for 24 hrs because the surgeon doesn’t want his golf game disrupted!! Victor smells like a garbage can left out in the fucking sun; do something NOW!!”
I guess I caused quite a stir but I got action and within a couple of hours they were wheeling Victor to the OR. It was the bone specialist’s assistant that opened him up and he wasn’t too happy about being called in. After the surgery he called me to a private room and said when he opened Victor up he couldn’t believe his eyes, he had never seen anything like it in his career; there was a pocket of infection the size of a football inside Victor’s abdomen. It had started from a bedsore on his tailbone and encompassed his hip joint and whole abdomen; he said if it would have burst it would have killed him for sure.
The infection raged through Victor’s body for weeks, it was in his blood, he oozed infection from every opening on his body and none of the antibiotics were working. His veins started to collapse and they were having to put intravenous in his groin, feet and neck because he just didn’t have any good veins any more.
I thought he was telling me to kill him, and then my older foster brother went to the hospital with me to visit him and he left the room crying, he said, “He’s begging us to put him out of his misery.” He would take his hand and make like a gun to the side of his head and make like he pulled the trigger, he pleaded with his eyes.
Then the doctors pulled me into that private room again and I knew it was going to be bad news, they wanted to amputate Victor from the ribcage down. He would be a torso, I asked how he could live like that and they said it was possible. I knew he could never live like that and I refused to sign the consent form. They said they would get a court injunction and do it anyway, so I hired a lawyer to stop them. The doctors told me I was killing him by not letting them do the surgery and I told them, “Fine, so be it, I would be doing him a favor, you are not mutilating him any further, I know what Victor would want and he wouldn’t want to live with 1/2 his body.”
Being French Canadian of course Victor was Catholic and the Catholic priest from the prison wanted to give Victor his final rites. I refused. Some people may condemn me for that and I will defend my decision to this day. My reason for denying it was I didn’t want Victor waking up and realizing he was being given his final rites and give up the fight to live, I wanted him to believe he was going to live. They fought me so hard that they lied to get into to see Victor saying they were family but I was one step ahead of them and had informed the nurses that no one except me and my mom and dad were to visit Victor and they stopped them from getting in. The priest called me and said I was condemning Victor to hell and I said, “ I find it very hard to believe that because I am an ignorant bitch that denies him his final rites God would punish him, if anything he will punish me and I am prepared to answer for my decision.”
I started having horrible nightmares. I remember one especially terrifying dream where I am running with Kris in my arms and his legs and arms have been amputated and I am crying and telling him, “It’s ok, Mommy will take care of you, it will be ok, I won’t let them hurt you any more.” And I am running from “them”, I woke up sobbing uncontrollably.
The infection wasn’t responding to any of the antibiotics and they moved Victor into an isolation room. I had to gown up and disinfect myself every time I went in and out for fear I would take something in to him or out to Kristofer.
Victor had been in ICU for 9 weeks, lost 100 pounds, and seeing as AIDS had just been discovered they feared he had contracted AIDS through the many blood transfusions he had received. He was tested and it came back negative. They were at a loss as to what to do and then our biggest fear happened, the antibiotic started killing off his good blood cells, the medication was killing him.
I was taken in the private room again and asked what I wanted to do. they wanted to take him off everything but the pain meds and let him die. In trying to save him they were killing him and there was nothing more they could do; I agreed, as long as they promised to keep him as pain free as possible there was nothing left to do.
And then a miracle happened, when they took him off the respirator I held my breath and waited and then he took a breath, and another one, and another; he was breathing on his own. Three days later I walked in and he was sitting in a wheelchair, and the nurse said, “Victor has something he wants to say to you.” He started to cry and in a barely audible raspy whisper he said, “I love you.”
Two days later I took Kristofer in to see his daddy (photo below) after 10 weeks in ICU Victor was moved to a ward.
Posted by Carrie the Lady Witha Truck