Lydia continues to live in Wellington New Zealand as an advisory level information technology specialist. She feels she has moved through much of the more difficult aspects of grieving and is now making plans for her future and eventual return home to America.
Note: Lydia returned to America in 2001.
Narrative received 1 August 1995.
I just buried my fiancee yesterday, tonight is my first night alone. I am an American that gave up everything to move here to New Zealand to live with my New Zealand boyfriend. When his aneurysm struck, it was 1:30 AM and he woke me up complaining of a severe headache (Sweetie, I have a really bad headache )
Not knowing anybody well enough and not knowing what was going on, I had to rely on the NZ medical people. It was 4AM when the ICU staff told me that they had spoken to 'the best neurosurgeon' in NZ (really, how many can NZ have?) and that he felt it 'wasnt worth coming in for, the patient won't last the night'.
My heart was breaking, I had nobody to come hold me, but I went to his bedside and sure enough, he started to wake up. He was conscious for 3 days after that while the neurosurgeon was 'stabilizing him for surgery'. I am grateful for those 3 extra days. He had the surgery and all was looking really promising- I went home to sleep finally after all this time. Then I got called at 4AM and it was ICU telling me that he was 'taking a turn for the worse'.
I rushed to the hospital - in a matter of 4 and a half hours from me leaving the hospital, suddenly they couldnt control his vital signs anymore. The ICU doctor told me he had become 'brain dead' and that I could have them disconnect the ventilator tube anytime. My sweetheart had no other family is this country either. I didnt know what to do, who to believe. I called a priest to be there with me. As we spoke to my sweetie, the priest started to pray for him and I was telling him everything would be alright, I couldnt get any kind of physical response from him at all.
His pupils had blown out (no longer responding to light) and any pinches illicited no reflex reaction. Then I looked at his beautiful closed eyes - there were tears coming from them and the priest saw them and said to me that I had to let him go now. So we shut all the alarms off and the nurses let me gather him up in my arms and they all left me with him as I kissed him and told him I understood and that I would always love him. He died gently and peacefully in my arms. I have never felt so heartbroken in all my life, I have an enormous void in my life now. I have nobody anymore. (I used to call him my everything man cuz that was what he was to me).
Because of a fully booked funeral parlor, his service was a week later. Today is the very first day that I've been totally alone.
I dont know if they did everything they could have for him and I certainly know that anything anyone tells me now is too late to help him. For me, I need to know, I need to know that the treatments they gave him were helping and not hurting him.
Here is the sequence of events:
1:30am - complaints of severe headache, nausea, skin clammy and cold, still conscious.
1:50am - Ambulance arrives, checks his blood pressure medicines, prepare for transport, still conscious.
2:05am - Emergency room staff question him, he gets through 3/4's of the questions and then becomes confused.
3:00am - First seizure - minor, petit mal in nature. Emergency room staff give him anti seizure medication. Unconscious.
3:30am - second seizure - similar to grand mal. Emergency room staff give him MORE anti seizure medication. Still Unconscious.
4:00am - CT scan done. Indicates brain hemmorage. The ICU doctor (called a registrar in NZ) tells me that he wont live the night and that they had been in contact with the neurosurgeon who didnt feel 'it was worth coming in for' (NZ does not know anything about bedside manner or empathy for the fiancee of a man with no family here, I really hate them for this).
5:00am - Shane starts regaining consciousness, I am at his bedside just continuously talking to him. He as an amazing ICU nurse named Alistair who stabilized his blood pressure and encouraged me to talk to him.
5:30am - Shane is conscious but groggy. Alistair continues to keep him stable (regular doses of blood pressure medication), continues to encourage me to talk to him.
As I said before, he remained conscious for 3 days. Occasionally, he seemed to be slightly drunken - the doctor told me that was because of the pressure on his brain. The neurosurgeon put him on a continuous drip of blood pressure medication (nipride?) and nipodimine to help prevent spasms. They also had him on a 'strong diuretic'.
He had an angiogram that indicated 2 berry aneurysms, one of which had burst. After the surgery, everyone felt he was doing great, the neurosurgeon even smiled and predicted minimal damage. The neurosurgeon recommended a muscle paralyzing drug and heavy sedation for 2 days to let him stablize after surgery.
About 8 hours after surgery, an anesthetist came to change his ventilator tube (ventilator tube being the standard post op until they were sure he was absorbing enough O2. He was set at 30% machine use post op and his blood gases had 98% oxygen). They wanted to change his ventilator tube from the hard one they use in surgery to a more flexible one they use in the ICU 'for comfort sake'. After they changed the tube, they allowed me back in to see him and I noticed that he had a bit of a nosebleed and the blood was a clear fluid with a bit of blood in it. I pointed it out to the nurse but she said that was standard, to not be such a worry wart. They sent me home for the night. 4am, as I mentioned above, his condition suddenly worsened.
All I want to know is if there is anything more that could have been done, there is no legal recourse in NZ but if they made a procedural mistake, I dont want it to happen to anyone else ever again.
Thanks for listening to this very lengthy note, consider it my therapy as my family couldnt get to NZ to be here with me and as I said before, this is my first night without a friend in the house with me.
Yours very scared, very alone and very sad in New Zealand. Lydia
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