Janelle and Michele
My Best Friend.
4 July 1996
The following is a tribute to my best friend, Janelle Lindberg,who died from a brain stem aneurysm at the age of 24.
As I remember that fateful day, May 5, 1996, I often ask myself if the whole experience was just a dream. Janelle and I were just getting ready to leave our friend's daughter's 1st birthday party. I turned around to give her the jacket I was holding for her and to my dismay, found her collapsed on the floor. At first I thought she had fainted, but soon realized she was suffering from a seizure. The paramedics were called and as we waited for the ambulance to arrive different procedures were being done to Janelle to attempt to stablize her. I kept thinking "this can't be happening, she is too young."
Finally the ambulance arrived and the paramedics asked if I wanted to ride with her to the hospital. I agreed (I think). Everything about the ride to the hospital meshed together. The sounds, the urgent sound of the paramedics working on Janelle. I had a terrible feeling inside and felt as if I couldn't catch my breath.
Once we arrived at Abbott Northwestern Hospital Janelle was rushed up the ramp to the emergency room and I was directed to a women sitting behind the front desk who proceed to ask me for Janelle's Social Security #, Driver's License, and Medical information. (God Bless her for being so organized.) To my surprise everything was neatly arranged in the front pocket of her purse. (What an angel.)
That night and the day that followed, relatives, friends, neighbors, and co-workers began arriving. Once she was stablized I was allowed to visit her. Although she was unconscious I prayed she had some inner sense of my presence.
After a short night of sleep I arrived at the hospital to learn that Janelle had made it through the night. There was a glimmer of hope after all. The doctors suggested that an angiogram be done to assess the extent of Janelle's injury. They strongly felt that she had suffered from an ruptured aneursym, but stated that only an angiogram would tell.
It was now 6:00 p.m. on Monday, May 6, 1996 - The results were back and they were not promising as we had desperately hoped. She was suffering from a ruptured brain stem aneurysm and the doctor's felt that it would be wise not to operate. The aneursym's location and size left us with one choice, a fairly new procedure with a low rate of success. Needless to say, I went to bed with a heavy heart.
Tuesday Morning, May 7, 1996 - I awoke to the sun shining into my window and desperately hoped for some miracle. Today would be judgement day. Good news arrived when I entered the waiting room. Janelle had reacted to her family, although with some nervous hesitation. She was conscious and able to count on her fingers, yet she couldn't understand why she had missed two days. Her mother explained that she had a bad headache and everything would be fine. Janelle sensed her mother's pain and knew something was desperately wrong, tears streamed down her face as she looked at the worried faces around her. She even waved to her godfather and closed her eyes to wait for the sedatives to take effect.
Tuesday - 4:30 p.m. As Janelle rolled past us on her way to the operating room the doctor's mentioned to the family that the procedure would last approximately 4-5 hours because of its complexity. The procedure is similar to an angiogram but instead of shooting dye up into the artery, tiny coils travel up the artery to fill the ruptured aneursym. It often takes dozens of coils to mend a ruptured aneurysm.
Tuesday - 6:30 p.m - The doctors were back and were requested that the family be taking to the conference room to discuss Janelle's procedure. I remember thinking that it had only been two hours since she was wheeled down to the operating room. Was there something wrong? There couldn't be something wrong. The doctor's would have said.
A close friend of the family was asked to bring Janelle's grandparents into the conference room. I felt an odd tingle in the pit of my stomach and my head began to spin. It couldn't be. There was no way I lost my best friend. Minutes later the family's close friend return to share with us that as the doctor's were inserting the last coil Janelle's aneursym ruptured for the second time and caused her to become brain dead. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Was she really gone. I had just been with her two days prior, how could it happen. Life isn't fair.
Tuesday night - 7:30? - My husband and I slowly made our way down the dimly lit hallway to say goodbye to Janelle one last time. I walked into the room and a wave of emotion erupted. How could she be gone, the monitors were still giving positive readings on her vital statistics. I guess, because she had requested to donate her organs she was kept on machines until they could transport the organs to the future donors. It was so hard to comprehend. I reached out to touch her and say I loved her. No words could express my pain and emptiness.
Today, 7 people live on because of Janelle. She was a very special person and I never once took her sincerity and thoughtfulness for granted. I cherish all the wonderful memories of her and often think of the special things we shared. There are very few people who make an impact on the world. Janelle was one of them and I thank God for giving me the opportunity to be her best friend, if only for a short time.
I miss you Janelle!
Discussion, comments, or questions: Michele
© Copyright 2006 Michele