My name is Barbara. My uncle is Reinhardt and he is 58. He was taking a shower and his head hurt really bad and he couldn't see out of his right eye. He called to his wife, my aunt, and she called 911. They found an aneurysm in his brain,in the front, and operated on it and he had a stroke.
He used to be very smart and owned his own electronics business, spoke fluent German and Portuguese and traveled along the Amazon in South America. He skied in Colorado every year and always helped me with my algebra. He was a regular guy. Now he sits in his wheel chair everyday and sleeps a lot. He cannot go to the bathroom and has to be changed and I know it must be humiliating and degrading for him because even thought he can't talk I believe he knows. He will say hi and I told him I loved him the other day and he said, "I love you too", but usually he just mumbles to himself and I cannot understand what he is saying.
When I look into his eyes I can tell he comprehends what is going on. He cannot speak back to me. His wife has been with him every day for 8 months and he was taken to a nursing home after he left the hospital. It was depressing and awful there. All these old people who used to lead such vibrant lives and who used to matter to their families are now all alone and no one visits them. They sit all day, everyday, all alone. They cry out or they just cry. It is so awful. I have never seen anything like that before and it is very shocking. I feel for these people.
I know my uncle knows where he is. The smell in that place is unbelievable. He cries sometimes too. He was actually improving in the beginning and could say a few words. But he started regressing and when he was taken back to the doctor he said he had had another stroke. My questions are. Will he improve. Is he acting normal under these conditions? What can we do for him.
When he leaves the hospital we vowed not to let him return to that nursing home again. My aunts hospital bill was $12,000 last month and she is trying to get Medicaid but as of yet no. Also Medicaid will not pay for at home care. Is anyone else going through something like this?
About 3 times in my life when I was just about asleep an explosion like a shotgun or cannon blast went off in my head. It was very scary and it happened real fast, but it was extremely loud . Is that a symptom of an aneurysm? My grandmother had one in her stomach area that was discovered at her death and now my uncle. Could I have one? Should I get checked for one? I am so worried about my uncle. What can I do? Please respond if you can find anyone who has had or is having a similar experience . I have to find some answers. Thank you so much.
Update 2 Jan 99
My uncle Reinhardt got pneumonia and is back in the hospital. The neurosurgeon said he has had another stroke and it effected his ability to speak. My aunt thought he was brain dead and they did a cat scan and found that he was not brain dead but he was very sick. Now its back to square one and after he gets over his sickness he will start therapy again. The doctor asked if his heart stopped if she wanted it to be started again and she said no. I know he wouldn't want to be this way but he may get better. It is awful and I don't know why he has been handed this terrible death sentence, or worse than death sentence. What did he do in his life to make him deserve this? Life is so unpredictable. Why, why, why. We still don't know what the future brings but for today he is still here.
Update 29 Jan 99
I wanted to update my dear uncle Reinhardts condition. He was doing fairly well in the retirement home and was starting to talk a little bit and smile some. Then he went into regression and was taken back to the hospital. He had another stroke and it affected his speech and the doctors said he would never walk or talk again.
He caught pneumonia and now he is lying in his hospital bed waiting to die. The family decided to remove his feeding tube and let him die a peaceful death. It's been 14 days and he still looks okay and that is the hard part. I see him almost everyday and he looks the same as he always did except thinner. He really doesn't look that bad. I thought people who were dying were awful looking and ravaged and shriveled up. But not my uncle. He looks like he is sleeping. Today when I was there he opened his eyes when I spoke his name. He tried to speak and couldn't. Before when I talked to him I saw a tear slip down his face. It's so hard to bear.
I want to believe that he could get better but the doctor says there is no way. Also I have to remember that he would not want to live a life of helplessness. He is a very proud man. So now we wait until he starves to death and I wonder what he is thinking. Does he know we are killing him. I wasn't even aware that it was allowed to stop feeding someone. It is so hard and I don't want to lose him. Especially not this way.
I hope he knows how much I love him. I know he hears us and I hope he can feel no pain. His wife has been by his side every single day. She has made peace with this and it is so hard for her too. Also it is hard for his daughter. It's hard for everybody.
I just wonder what he feels and thinks and wants us to do. We have made the decision and now we have to live with it. So we are just waiting each day, sitting with him and praying that we are doing the right thing. I'll update later and let everyone know how it ends. But as for now, and as it has always been, he is in God's hands. Sometimes we forget that.
I finally have the courage to sit down and write what I hoped I would never have to write or I never thought I'd be writing . My uncle, Reinhardt, died. He was unable to feed himself, or walk, or ever be his old self again. The family decided to take out his feeding tube. It was a terrible ordeal. We had visions of him peacefully drifting off into a pleasant afterlife. To be gently lifted by angels, a contented smile on his face, as he looked into the beautiful face of God.
But that's not what happened. He was starving to death and I could hear his stomach growling and wanted so badly to sneak him some food or water. He tried to speak and would sometimes close his eyes on command. I was hoping for a miracle. That he would stand up and walk. That he would speak to us and ask to be taken home. I thought God would intervene. I really always held out for some kind of happy ending.
So, the night he died I went to his hospital room and it was dark and he was breathing so fast and shallow. Labored breathing. His eyes were half opened and I could see his pupils, very large and glassy. The room smelled so bad, as if with each breath his dying insides would come out in the air. He was like an animal, not a human anymore. I was afraid to go in but I did and I told him that I was sorry and that I loved him very much. I think he heard me. I could just tell. Then I went home and hadn't been there 10 minutes when I got the news. He had died moments after I left.
So there it is. We buried him and now he's gone forever. I had a big cry when I read his obituary, it was so final. I want to thank the support group for being there for me. Your letters meant so much. I'll be praying for you all. And thanks so very much for you, Bill Maples for your kind words and for putting everybody together. God is watching you. Actually, God is watching us too. So remember to be on your best behavior.
I don't know why Reinhardt had to die. And a slow agonizing death at that. But I do believe in God. That has sustained me. I'll keep reading the narratives and will be praying for everyone
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