I just returned from the worst trip of my life. I had been down to visit my girlfriend whom I hadn't seen in a year and half. In that year and half she had been unofficially diagnosed with ALS - Lou Gehrig's disease. I noticed the deterioration in her mobility immediately upon my arrival. We had an excellent visit lasting from morning to the evening.
She went to work the following morning, called me that morning for a wake-up call and we said we'd see each other after work. I was already looking forward to the visit...she had been dropped off at approximately 4:10 p.m. and I arrived home approximately an hour later. She was 'sleeping' in her wheelchair. I couldn't wake her up but she appeared to be snoring and was breathing and had a pulse. I called her daughter living in BC and asked her if it was normal for her mom to power nap in her wheelchair and if she was hard to wake up as I've never had to try as she's always been an early riser. Her daughter had said that her mom had been somewhat ill over the weekend and maybe it was a good idea to let her 'sleep' for an hour as both of us knew her mom would be severely choked at us if we overreacted and it turned out she had been in a deep sleep. Her daughter asked that I move her to her bed, so I did.
The hour passed slowly, I couldn't wait so I called her daughter back to advise that nothing had changed, she wouldn't wake up. We were both afraid, finally after getting off the phone, my girlfriend's parents called, (they are elderly and my girlfriend's daughter had called them but didn't want to create panic - they couldn't drive at night and her daughter didn't want them coming all the way over if my girlfriend was just in a deep sleep) They said for me to call 911, which I did.
She died that morning at 2:30 am. I am still in shock. She had a major amount of blood in her brain, so much so that they said it was inoperable and the decision had been made for them. Apparently she'd had the worst headache of her life the Friday before I arrived, described it as if her head had exploded, was hallucinating and was also experiencing nausea. She minimized it saying that it was probably a touch of the flu. She was feeling 'better' when I arrived on Sunday. It turns out that at work the Monday she had complained of another headache and turned white. If only I'd known this piece of information.
I am ridden with the hindsight factor and the what if's are driving me crazy. Everyone agrees I was meant to be there, have my last visit and be there for her, but part of me wonders if I failed in the purpose of being there. Maybe I was meant to save her. The minister at the wake reminded me that I do not have the power to save, only one person does. Intellectually it all sounds good but I'm having a hard time with it sinking in. I spoke to the doctors at the hospital and they said whether I'd brought her in an hour earlier or an hour later the results would've been the same,they wouldn't have been able to do anything more than they had. Her sister-in-law is a doctor. I asked her point blank if she thought I could've helped to save her had I called 911 earlier, she said in her opinion that the Aneurysm started leaking on the Friday and was ongoing and when I came upon her on Monday, her brain was already in the process of dying.
I needed to vent and share. I feel responsible. I miss my dear friend, surrogate mother, mentor. I had a hell of a time accepting the fact that she had ALS and had a horrible ride in store but never in my wildest dreams expected that I'd have to face this. Her family have said that it is a blessing in disguise, she didn't die from ALS. She didn't have to endure the long, debilitating process of dying. However, this does not take away the fact that she is indeed gone. I'm glad she didn't die alone, and that I had the opportunity for one last visit. It was as though she was waiting for me. I had cancelled a few times before and decided I just had to go despite work being busy.
Trying to grieve but having a hard time accepting the facts.
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