Friday, February 21, 2014

People Don't Really Scream Like That, Do They?

My very favorite show is Grey's Anatomy. I have watched every single episode at least 4 times. I love it. I watched episode after episode when I was on bed rest with Violet. I used to think that the actors were a bit dramatic when their loved ones died. Like when Denny died, I really thought Izzy was nuts. Alex had to pry her away from dead Denny. She laid on the bathroom floor for hours in that damn dress. Come on, no one reacts like that. Then she baked a million stupid muffins. I always get pissed off when the parents are screaming and crying and trying to get to their kid as the doctors are trying to save their life. Let the doctors do their job people! Get out of the way. Stop screaming. Get off the floor. Stay calm, your panicking doesn't help anyone. When Meredith screams in the woods after Lexie dies, come on. Really? I thought it was terrible acting and terrible writing. Screaming? Really? No one really screams in real life. Right?  How very very wrong I was.

The dread I felt when the doctor at the ER said "Well, she tested negative for RSV... But, positive for Influenza A" was immediate. I had already heard that Influenza A was killing healthy middle aged men this year, so what chance does a 5 1/2 month old stand? The doctor was so calm, so nonchalant. She was older, and obviously experienced. I know what happened to Violet isn't a normal case, so I'm sure this doctor thought she was going to be fine. She decided to admit Vi just "as a precaution." It took her a few hours to decide to admit her, and the whole time I was trying not to scream. Trying not to run out to the nurses station and shake her while screaming for her to just admit Vi already. The ER that we took Violet to isn't connected to a hospital so they took us by ambulance up to McKay 
Dee. It took so long to get all the paperwork done and to get the ambulance there. It took everything I had not to scream obscenities about how long everything was taking. 

Once we got to McKay they got her straight into a room, but it took forever for the doctor to come in and exam her. I knew that she needed to be on oxygen, they had given her oxygen on the ambulance ride over and that was the calmest she had been in hours. She was actually able to sleep a little bit. I thought she might be able to sleep if they just put the damn oxygen on her. I didn't want to scream at the sweet nurse that was so nice and so caring. So I didn't. I was patient. I waited for the doctor. When she finally came in she immediately got Vi on oxygen, and had the nurse do a deep suction of Vi's throat. Violet hated that so much, I knew she needed it but I hated that she was going through this. All I wanted to do was scream at them to stop so that I could pick her up and kiss her and make her all better. But, I didn't scream at them. I let them do what they needed to do to help Violet. After a few hours it was obvious that she needed more help. The simple nasal cannula wasn't cutting it, so they decided to hook her up to the high pressure oxygen. They assured me that this would bring her some comfort and that it would help her get better. Once they told me that I wanted her on it immediately. Right then. I have no concept of time, but I know it took forever for the respiratory therapist to come back with the whole set up. I was rocking Violet and asking the nurse over and over again why it was taking so long. I restrained myself from screaming at the respiratory therapist when she did finally come in with the machine. I told myself that screaming at her to hurry and set the damn machine up already would just make Vi's wait even longer. They did get Vi hooked up finally. But, it didn't seem to bring her the comfort that they told me it would. I told them this, and they told me it would take awhile, that there was a little boy down the hall that was not doing well the night before, but now after they put him on this oxygen set up he was doing so much better. So, I waited. I didn't scream at them that my baby wasn't getting better. I didn't scream at them and call them liars. I waited. But, she didn't get better. She kept getting worse. It was around this time that my dad came up. I collapsed in his arms. Something about dads makes it ok to break down for a minute. He held me up, he let me cry. But, I didn't let myself scream. 

From here things get fuzzy. Like I said before, I have absolutely no concept of time. Eventually we had to let Violet lay in the crib, because her heart rate would go up when we jostled her and her breathing was so unstable that being bent at all made her so much more uncomfortable. I hated that she had to lay in that crib. Rich and I stood right by her, held her hands, played her white noise, whispered sweet nothings to her, told her she was going to be fine, that she was so strong. But, she didn't get better. She kept getting worse. Finally, the doctor decided it was time to life flight her to Primary Children's. It took everything in me not to scream at him and tell him they should have taken her there hours ago. Waiting for the Life Flight team to get there was the longest time of my life. It couldn't have been more than 30 minutes from the time they decided to send her there to the time they walked in her room. But, it felt like an eternity. I could see the life slipping out of her. Every minute we waited felt like a year. I was pacing the room. From the door, back to her side. Kissing her forehead, telling her to hold on. That they were going to take her to the best hospital and get her all better. I was panicking. I could see her slipping away. Her eyes were glossy. Her skin was pale. She was cold and clammy. I could see the light leaving her. The Life Flight team finally got there. I didn't scream at them for taking an eternity to get there. I knew they were there to save my baby. Within a minute of them walking in the room Violet started to decline rapidly. Her heart rate had been in the 220-250 range for the past few hours, and then suddenly it was 135. I knew this wasn't ok. Everyone kept telling that it was fine, that's a normal heart rate for a baby. Someone told me they don't worry until it gets under 80. I looked at the monitor right then and her heart rate was 88. I looked at Violet, her legs started shaking. Audrey (the Life Flight RN) said "Start compressions." I ran. I screamed. I collapsed on the floor in the hallway. The person screaming was not someone that I recognized. The person screaming was not me. It was my soul. My soul was screaming out for my baby. The sounds coming out of me were so primal. So deep. It wasn't me. A nurse had to drag me down the hall kicking and screaming and put me in a room. My mom was with me. I screamed. She held me and screamed with me. Rich was in the room while they worked on Violet. I'm so thankful for his strength, that he was able to be in there at least for a little while with our daughter. 

Eventually, I was allowed out of that room. I sat in the hallway outside of Violet's room. I stayed calm. I knew that they would not allow a kicking screaming mother on a helicopter. So, I stayed calm. I was screaming inside my head. Screaming that this cannot be happening. But, I didn't let those screams out. I heard them saying push Epi. I know what that means from all my countless hours watching Grey's Anatomy. I know that means her heart stopped. I still kept my screams in. Audrey came out in the hall and told me honestly what was happening. She told me that they were trying to "cross all their T's and dot all their I's" so that Vi was stable enough for the helicopter ride. So that she didn't crash in the air. She told me I had to stay calm if I wanted to go with her. So, I stayed calm. She told me that Violet was very very sick. I didn't scream. It could have been minutes, it could have been hours, but eventually it was decided to get Vi on the helicopter. They moved her to the stretcher, wheeled her halfway out the door and stopped. The bed was rhythmically bouncing. I knew what was happening. I couldn't see her, but I knew she was getting chest compressions. My sisters, brother, and mom were behind me. I looked back at them shaking my head. I couldn't say the words, but I knew it was bad. I knew it had gone on for too long. Audrey looked back at me and said "Mama, we aren't looking good. I don't know that she is going to survive this." My heart dropped. I almost fainted. I almost threw up. But, I didn't scream. I knew I had to stay calm so that I could go with my baby. 

When we finally got to Primary Children's, and they had been doing compressions for the entire helicopter ride I knew there was no coming back from that. It had been too long. The doctor came out and basically told me this. I didn't scream. I said nothing. I didn't tell her to stop. I just stared at her blankly. How can a mother tell a doctor to stop trying to revive their child? I knew they had to stop, I wasn't angry at them, I just couldn't say the words. After awhile they had her cleaned up enough that I was able to go back and hold her. I sat in a rocking chair, and a nurse handed me my dead daughter. I screamed. The weight of her little body was too heavy. I screamed and cried out. I asked why this happened to my baby. Why my Violet? Why did this happen to my baby? I don't know how long I was in there with her before Rich was there. He opened the curtain, looked at me, and I told him that she didn't make it. I screamed at him that our daughter died. The look on his face will forever be engrained in my mind. Forever. I saw him change in that instant. He will never be the same man that he was. 

Eventually we had to leave. We had to say goodbye to our daughter. We had to leave her there, alone. I asked the nurse to please not let her be in there alone. To please make sure someone stays with her. She assured me that she would not leave Violet's side. I believed her. They gave me the blanket that they had wrapped her in, and we left the room. I had only been to that hospital a couple of times in my life, but I knew the front doors looked like a fish tank. I saw those fish tank front doors and stopped. I couldn't move. I should have been leaving that hospital with my daughter, and all I had was a blanket. I don't really remember what happened next, but somehow I ended up on the floor. Screaming. That primal scream again. That person who wasn't me was screaming again. My soul screaming out in complete agony. A piece of me died. A piece of my soul was ripped from me. It was the worst agony I have ever felt in my life. 

Some how Rich and I made it home. We didn't drive. I think my dad drove us home. Neither of us slept much. I had been up for nearly 48 hours by this point, Rich had been up for at least 24 hours. We both wandered around. Clutching each other and that blanket. I screamed. He cried out. A piece of us died, and we will never be the same. I may not scream out often, but the screaming in my head never stops. I can't imagine that it ever will. It hurts more every second of every day that passes. The agony gets worse. The rip in my soul gets bigger and bigger the more time passes. The farther away I get from the last time I held her.

I didn't start this post with the intention of reliving the events that took place. It took on a life of it's own and my fingers wouldn't stop. The comparison to Grey's Anatomy is ridiculous, I know. But, in that moment I truly felt like I was in a movie or TV show. Things like this don't happen in real life. People don't scream out like Meredith in the woods. Parents don't collapse on the ground. People don't do ridiculous things like lay in a bathroom and bake thousands of muffins. I'm here to tell you that they do. I screamed. I collapsed. I sat in a chair for 2 straight weeks. Touché Grey's Anatomy, you got something right. 

Hi baby girl. Lyvi asked to see pictures of you again tonight. She misses you. But, she loves seeing you in pictures. I was able to watch a few videos of you with her. She just laughed and laughed, while I cried. I can't believe that you are gone. I have a hard time believing that you were ever really mine. I'm so sorry I couldn't kiss you and make you better. That's a mama's job, and I failed you. I will never forgive myself for that. I know you wouldn't want me to feel this way, but it is impossible not to. You are gone and I am still here. Expected to go on without you. Expected to be happy again someday. I miss you. I wish I could take your place. I would have cut open my own chest and given you my lungs if they would have let me. I'm so sorry sweet girl. I love you. I hope you are ok. I hope you are happy. and, I hope you are warm. Goodnight my Violetta Villalobos. 

10 comments:

  1. I could have written this. Our experiences were so similar it's scary. The screaming, knowing what was happening because of Grey's Anatomy, the transfer - except my daughter didn't make it to the transfer, the team arrived too late. I'm sorry, Michelle. I'm so sorry.

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    1. I'm so sorry you can understand this in the way you do. I'm sorry you had to live through something so eerily similar to this. I'm so sorry you lost your beautiful daughter.

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  2. Beautifully written thanks for sharing this michelle we love your family

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  3. you don't know me, but I am sobbing hysterically reading your story. The gut wrenching all encompassing life destroying pain I know I'm only feeling a glimpse of from reading...I cannot imagine what you are going through. There are no words to bring you comfort I'm sure, but I hope sharing your story brings you some sense of relief. I know you may not be spiritual, but I am and will continue to pray for you and your beautiful family

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    1. Thank you Jessica. Your words are so kind.

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  4. I only know your story through mutual friends, but I just wanted to tell you that your beauty as a mother is just radiating from you and your words. I can't even begin to tell you how sorry I am, and I know it wouldn't make things better anyways. But your baby girls are lucky to have you and your husband, I can tell that for sure. I'm just sick that you're having to go through this. I'm so sorry.

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  5. I suck at words, and ive sat here for a ridiculous amount of time typing and deleting,typing and deleting. Nothing feels like the "right" thing to say. Jessica and Smiles expressed how i feel the best. As a mom i want to scream with you. Im pissed off for you. And i met Violet, that sweet little spirit is way too strong to be gone, shes here, somewhere. Thank you so much for sharing, i hope its at least somewhat therapeutic for you to write about Vi.

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  6. I'm reading this and sobbing so so hard. I'm sorry. I'm really sorry. I wanna give you a hug and say nothing cause there's nothing not a single thing that I could say to erase your pain or make it go away. I'm sorry

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  7. Sending you and your family so much love <3

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