Tag Archives: Dying

Some Times You Think You Need a Man

A couple of nights ago I let Kato out for a pee while I brought in the laundry and groceries. He’s  been really good about not buggering off and coming when he is called; he laid in the sun in the driveway all morning and never moved. I was getting the laundry off the drying rack when something went flying past me in the tall grass in the field next door.

It was pitch black outside but I knew it had to be Kato and he was chasing something. I called him but all I could hear was thrashing in the grass and then I could hear something in the throes of death screaming and thrashing around.

It kind of sounded like a cat but there wasn’t any hissing like cats do and I am sure a cat would have put up a bigger fight. I couldn’t stand listening to it and Laila was getting all excited so I took her in the trailer, I could still hear it crying so I closed the door and eventually held my hands over my ears trying to block the screams. I am sure the neighbours heard it, living so far out in the country there are no sounds at night except for frogs and occassionally coyotes, so screams of something being killed must stand out.

I don’t own a flashlight or I would have gone looking for Kato; there was just a sliver of a moon and you couldn’t see two feet in front of yourself.

I don’t have a gun to put something out of it’s misery so I thought I should just let Kato finish the job. And I didn’t want to call him too loudly because that would make it pretty obvious who the killer was.

Then it got really quiet out there for an hour or more and Kato didn’t come back. I didn’t know what to do. (this is the part when I really thought I needed a man; I don’t know why I think a man can handle blood and guts better than a woman)

I didn’t know if Kato was hurt, I called him and there wasn’t a sound, not even grass rustling. I was sick about him killing whatever he killed and worried about him at the same time. It might have been a raccoon and they carry rabies, I’ve never seen raccoons around here though.

Then I heard his bark!!! I opened the door and called him afraid of what he might look like. I was afraid he’d be covered in gore but he looked just like normal.

He was raised with a cat in the house and they slept together I can’t see him killing a cat. Then today I was talking to someone and they said it was probably a possum.I can handle an ugly old possum getting killed better than a cat, bunny or chicken. And I actually saw one scurry across the road just n hour ago. I mean I am sorry the possum died a horrible death but I’m used to seeing dead with their guts all over the road. 

So I made it through another crisis without  man but I can see why people start to look like their pets, I’m getting stress wrinkles from my dogs, before long I’ll look just like a Shar-pei.

By the way; I know men aren’t just on this earth to kill  spiders and deal with dead things, they are good for changing tires and mowing the grass also!!

KIDDING!!! come on have a sense of haha 😉


We came home last night and as soon as Kato was in the fenced off area around the trailer he bolted to the steps of the trailer. Of course Laila was hot on his ass. I thought they must be thirsty and hurried to open the door but stopped dead in my tracks when kato turned to me with something in his mouth.  Right away I assumed mouse but as he got closer I could tell it was a barn swallow. I said, “Kato drop it! Its a bird drop it!!” and much to my surprise he did, and he didn’t drop it either; he very gently pushed it but of his mouth onto the ground with his tongue and made sure to place it on the ground and not just  “drop” it.

I thought it was dead because  it didn’t move, Laila stood back and watched from a distance, totally out of character for her; she always wants in like a dirty shirt. When she followed me out of the trailer she walked way around the little dead bird. Kato laid down a few feet away from it and didn’t even try to get it again, he just laid there watching it. I got a shovel to scoop it up with and bury it so the dogs wouldn’t eat it but when I got close I could see it was still breathing.

The barn swallows were there when we moved in and I had  noticed the last couple of days they were doing alot of swooping under the leanto where the trailer is and I assumed they were teaching the babies to fly. This little guy must have failed flying 101.

Then I remembered back in Ladner  when James’s son was with us Kato had  brought Allan and I a baby crow who had failed his flying lesson. And years prior to that my Border Collie  had  brought me an i.injured bird.

Hmmm could it be he was bringing me the sick bird?

Mom and dad swallow were frantically dive bombing us and making an awful rukus. I know you aren’t supposed to touch the sick bird because then the mother won’t accept it back so I put a clean rag in a basket, gloves on and
carefully placed the baby bird in the basket and put the basket on the roof of the trailer.

I  checked tonight and the little guy is out of my basket and peering over the edge of the trailer . Mom and dad are chirping up  a storm and swooping down from the roof of the trailer.
I feel sorry for the little guy; he’s probably scared to death. I mean after all yesterday when he tried he crash landed and then some THING!!! with a HUGE mouth got dog sober all over him and the dirt stuck to the dog sober and he couldn’t even move he weighed so much from the dirt, slobber and gravel. I sure wouldn’t be jumping at the chance to do that again either.

But I think  Kato redeemed himself, he saved a swallow i think d change for killing a possum; more than a fair trade. Aren’t animals amazing??

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.”

I cried.

Two days later I took Kristofer in to see his daddy (photo below) after 10 weeks in ICU Victor was moved to a ward.

I took Kris to visit Victor in the hospital, my dad came to help me with Kris.

I took Kris to visit Victor in the hospital, my dad came to help me with Kris.

Posted by Carrie the Lady Witha Truck

Victor and Kristofer fell asleep on the couch with KC our spaniel, 2 weeks before the accident

Victor and Kristofer fell asleep on the couch with KC our spaniel, 2 weeks before the accident

We were at VGH in 20 minutes; we went through every intersection with lights and sirens going, every time he put on the sirens he warned me, I felt very much like Victor and I were in capable hands.

We talked a bit on the way down about how Victor and I had just had a baby who was only 6 weeks old. I remember we were laughing about something.

When we got to the hospital he told me to wait for him he’d be right back. When he came back he told me to stick close to him. They unloaded Victor and all of a sudden there was a flurry of activity (just like on medical shows like ER) doctors and nurses every where and they whisked Victor down a hallway, I stuck beside my ambulance attendant and a nurse tried to block my way. “You can’t come in here. You’ll have to wait out there.” The ambulance attendant said, “This is his wife, she’s ok” the nurse gave him a look that said, “You know it’s against the rules” or maybe more like “I don’t need an hysterical wife on my hands”; and he took her aside. I couldn’t hear what he said but she let me through until we got to another area and then he said I’d have to stay there; someone would get me after they admitted Victor and examined him. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that ambulance attendant paved the way for me and opened doors usually closed to the family of patients in the trauma unit; he gave me credibility.

It was hours before I got to talk to any of the doctors but finally they called me into a little room (they have these little almost cubicles with a door on them to give privacy, that is where they usually give you the bad news) inside the trauma unit. The prognosis sounded pretty good, they said that his physical condition was a big plus in his favor. He had been going to the gym regularly and was in good shape, and weighed almost 200 lbs and they said that was really going to help in his recovery.

They said that barring him getting an infection they didn’t see any reason why he shouldn’t be out within a week or so and go into a ward. They said that the key was getting him out of there within 10 days; that every day past 10 days in the trauma unit his odds of surviving dropped drastically.

I was very niave and had no idea what an infection meant or how life threatening an infection can be.

I was taken in to see him and was shocked by what I saw when I walked through the double doors of the trauma unit. In every sense of the word it was a MASH unit, it was a huge sterile room, to the right was the nurses station and on three sides were patients, only a few feet apart, all hooked up to monitors, and respirators, there was a constant beep, beep, beep, coming from each bed, and whoosh of air for each respirator. All the patients were naked except for a small white hand towel covering their private parts, there were curtains to go around each bed but every one was pulled back. I tried not to look at the other people, wanting to give them their privacy and afraid of what I might see. (I was told the trauma unit was designed after an army medical MASH unit because it was the most efficient and successful way of dealing with severly injured people. They said the first hour after a traumatic injury was crucial to whether a person survived or not.) I hated hospitals at the best of times and usually cried just entering one; this was testing me big time.

They took me to Victor and he basically looked the same, without blankets covering him I could see the tire tread marks across his abdomen. They said they had given him something for pain so he was groggy but they said he had quite the personality and with his attitude he should have a speedy recovery. Figures, he had won them over within the first few hours, typical of Victor and my spirits were uplifted.

“Hey, sunshine, how are you doing? I’ve been waiting to see you a long time; do you know where you are sweetie?”

He shook his head. “You had a motorcycle accident, you are in VGH, but you’re going to be ok.” When I said motorcycle accident he looked surprised, he was trying to talk but the breathing tube down his throat stopped him, he tried writing on a chalk board but was too groggy. “it’s Ok honey, just rest; I’ll be here when you wake up”.

They told me that they were going to set his pelvis the next day and they were also going to remove his gall bladder and spleen because they were too damaged.

To be totally honest I don’t recall what happened next or in what order things happened, I only know things went downhill fast and furiously.

I am sure it was because of the ambulance attendant saying something to the nurses when I arrived but I was given preferential treatment right from the start, where as other families would have to wait for hours in the waiting room and only be allowed in for certain times and length of time I was allowed in 24/7 for as long as I wanted.

Victor took a turn for the worst and my mom ended up getting a hotel for her and I for two days; I had slept in the hospital for a couple of nights. I didn’t see Kris for almost a week when I finally was able to go home.

My best girlfriend Teri took it upon herself to organize baby sitting for Kristofer and when I got home she handed me a list of who was taking him on what days; what a saint she was. She was a single mom and paid our mortgage one month too and she also found someone who donated to us a beautiful crib and baby clothes, he was the best dressed baby for the 1st 2 years of his life, whoever donated the clothes must have had money, I had never seen such beautiful baby outfits.

My dad took care of Kris when he wasn’t working, he just couldn’t stand seeing Victor that way, he had a very hard time dealing with the accident. My dad was a tough prison guard who’d seen it all and I’d never seen him like that. He thought he was better off taking care of Kris which was great because at least he was with family.

The hospital guaranteed me that they could keep Victor alive for 3 hours; meaning I had time to get home and back to the hospital. Some times they couldn’t guarantee me that and it was on those days I stayed at the hospital until they could get him stable enough for me to leave. Of course this was before cell phones and it was an hour and half home if traffic was good.

I always stayed amazingly calm, I don’t think I ever cried in there, my parents pointed out that I had developed a habit of twisting a piece of my hair around and around my finger, but I never let my emotions show. I think I was afraid if I did I would lose control and they wouldn’t allow me the access I had.

Some of the nurses told me I should be home with my baby that Victor didn’t know I was there anyway. I figured I had a life time with Kristofer and maybe only hours with Victor, the father of my baby; Victor needed me now and Kristofer was going to need his daddy. They insisted he didn’t know I was there, but I knew he knew. I would sit beside his bed and talk to him about all the things we would do when he got well, how we would take Kristofer fishing, and we’d get Victor workout stuff for at home, I would ramble on and on about anything I thought would give him hope.

I brought in his pillow from home and pictures of me and Kris and Kris with his daddy and taped them to the pole that went the length of his bed; as much for the nursing staff as for Victor. I wanted them to know the person; that this wasn’t just another patient, another piece of meat laying naked on a gurney, this man was a daddy, my husband, a good person that had to live and go home to his family. I really started something, before I knew it other patients had cards, pictures and such taped to their beds also.

They started alternating Victor’s nurses often because some of the nurses got too emotionally attached and they were afraid they wouldn’t do their job effectively. I was afraid there wasn’t enough consistency in care that way, sure they had his chart but they wouldn’t have the hands on experience of caring for him day to day so I started keeping track of his blood count, temperature, and heart rate so I could tell if an infection was brewing.

I had started a journal after the first week he was in the hospital because I wanted to keep it for Victor to read so he wouldn’t miss any part of Kristofer’s life.

The journal became so much more than I had initially anticipated it would be. I would keep track of my weight (even at times like this my weight was a major concern for me), I kept track of Victor’s vital signs and what was happening with him day to day, I wrote about Kristofer and any little thing that happened with him each day, I started to keep track of how much wine I was drinking because I thought I was developing a problem, and it was my sounding board, it was where I poured out my heart, my fears and anger.

Posted by Carrie the Lady Witha Truck