End Of Life Trauma – Part 1 The ER

Surgeon Inserting Tube Into Patient During Surgery

This is the first of I don’t know how many posts, documenting my two and a half months of being consumed by healthcare issues relating to the last days of my wife’s life.

Why am I doing this?

I am doing this because I was almost totally unprepared for what was going to happen, and I hope by giving you my story, you will be a little more aware of these types of end-of-life issues if you should have to face them.


I feel like I aged five years during this time. Even though it has been a week since her death, my head is still spinning at a feverish pace. I can tell you up front that this was for the most part far from a pleasant experience. Yeah, there were those who made the journey a little more tolerable, but there were also those that compounded the unnecessary pains. And then the pandemic, even though it was winding down, presented its own problems.

It started out on the last day of April, when my wife said she did not feel good and needed to go to the hospital. That alone was not an unusual event for her. She had been on a downhill path for at least a couple of years. On the thirty-minute ride to the ER, she got worse, the pain was becoming unbearable. When we arrived, she was taken immediately to a room and after about an hour and a few tests the ER doctor came in and said they couldn’t find the reason for the pain. When I told her that she had already had three previous heart attacks, the doctor seemed unfazed. She said that the tests were negative for any cardio problem and advised my wife to see her doctor within a week of this event.

As we were going home, my wife had another “event”. I was turning the car around to go back to the hospital, but she strongly insisted that we just go home. We got home about midnight and pretty quickly went to bed. I am a sound sleeper, but about 3am she aroused me to say that she couldn’t move and was in horrendous pain. The ambulance came about ten minutes later, and she was rushed back to the hospital. I came along after in my car and found her in the same condition as when she was home. What seemed like hours, but was probably not more than twenty minutes, a doctor, not the same one as earlier, said she had had a very severe heart attack.

At that point, I had my first of many Aspie meltdowns during these times. I shouted

“Why didn’t you find this three hours ago!”

It was then that I remembered the vials of blood on a tray during the previous visit. It struck me as strange that they were there throughout the entire time. Why weren’t they sent to the lab? When I mentioned this during the 3am visit, I was told that they were likely a second set of blood draws, just in case they were needed. It sounded like a lame excuse, but I let it stand as the truth. To this day, I question whether that explanation we really valid?

Of course, this time she was sent almost immediately to the cath lab. After two hours there, at 5:00am the first of many doctors came out and said her heart attack was severe, but there was a reasonable chance that she would survive this episode.

(to be continued next Wednesday)