In my last post, just three days ago, Ruth had completed mile three of her journey. In that post it was Friday and Ruth was admitted to the acute care hospital with pneumonia. Ruth was being given oxygen through a mask and her oxygen numbers were pretty good. She was able to talk and respond to questions. I could tell that she was tired but she understood, and responded when I told her about some things that were happening with people that she knows and loves. When a respiratory technician came in the room to give her a breathing treatment she even joked with him when he introduced himself. He said "I'm Mark from respiratory". Ruth's response "Hi Mark from respiratory” we all laughed. Ruth said that she was thirsty and wanted some water and the nurse came in removed the oxygen mask after the breathing treatment and Ruth drank more water than I had seen her drink in weeks. They had also given pushed fluids in her through an IV to try to flush out the lungs. It was working because the catheter bag was full. I left feeling pretty good although I knew that pneumonia with damaged lungs from the cancer was not a good thing.
Saturday January 24, 2014
I woke up Saturday morning and planned to go by the church and set up for Sunday morning and then go out to the hospital perhaps about noon. I got a call from the attending physician about 10 am. She told me that Ruth’s condition had worsened overnight and that she was not having a great deal of difficulty breathing so much so that she was going to talk with the respiratory ICU doctor about perhaps moving Ruth to ICU where she could be more closely monitored and perhaps intubated (a procedure by which a tube is inserted through the mouth down into the trachea, the large airway from the mouth to the lungs. It was serious and Ruth was in critical condition but I said okay because we had decided to do everything possible to keep her alive for possible treatment of the cancer. I told the doctor that I was on the way to the hospital.
When I reached the hospital and was parking I got a call from the ICU doctor. She asked me if I was aware of Ruth’s condition meaning that she has lung cancer and now pneumonia and I said yes. She then told me that she had seen Ruth and had looked at all of her x-rays and scans and she told me that if Ruth was intubated that she would never be able to come off the ventilator and that in intubating her it could cause the heart to stop and then to do chest compression would be so very damaging and result in a great deal of pain and she would still need the ventilator to breath. The only thing to do, in her opinion, was to try to stop and control the pneumonia and then discharge Ruth either to a nursing facility or home. I was numb after hearing this but I agreed with the doctor especially if, in her opinion, if we couldn’t stop the pneumonia Ruth would not be able to breath without ventilation and I would have to make that decision then
When I got to Ruth’s room they had brought in a special device that was able to force more oxygen into her lungs through a very tight mask. Forcing more oxygen in the lungs theoretically could cause her not to have to work so hard breathing. When I went I Ruth was really struggling to breath but she spoke when I came in and she know that I was there. We told each other that we loved each other. She then asked me if I could take her home. She was still using the original oxygen mask. I told her no baby you can’t go home now we need to kick this pneumonia. Hopefully you can come home in a few days. She said okay. The technician came in to set up the special device when she got it started she told Ruth that she was breathing too fast for the device to keep up. She had to keep tweaking it in order for it to become effective. The technician told me that most people breathe about 10 times a minute and Ruth was breathing 45 to 50 sometimes more a minute. At that rate her heart would not be able to take it for long. Well she got is slowed down so that the alarms stopped going off. The doctor had ordered new antibiotics and they were going to do some tests to make sure that Ruth had not had a heart attack with her heart working so hard.
I left the hospital feeling a little better and my plan was to go home, prepare for church, and come back to the hospital after church on Sunday. Before I left the apartment I decided to take Ruth’s life insurance policies with me and to select a mortuary because at some point we would need one and I wanted to get that out of the way. Because it was Saturday one of the mortuaries was closed and I didn’t want to page and wait around or come back to meet somebody because it was not an emergency. The other mortuary that I thought to use was having services so I didn’t stop by there either. Then I decided, since I was still out, that I would go back to the hospital and spend a couple more hours with Ruth before going home.
On my way back to the hospital the attending physician called me. She told me that the test had come back that Ruth had not had a heart attack, but that she was still working very hard to breathe and she was going to change the antibiotics after talking to the infection control doctors. Then she told me that she was leaving for the day but would talk to the evening attending physician about Ruth. She would not be working on Sunday but would be in on Monday and that we would talk then. I then told her that I do hope that we talk on Monday because if we do that will mean that Ruth made it through the weekend. She agree and said yes I hope that we do talk on Monday.
When I get to the room this time her nurse is there and so is the respiratory technician. Ruth is really struggling to breathe now. I go over to the bed and call her name she looks at me and I tell her that I love her. Through the mask she mumbles that she loves me. The nurse and the technician leave the room and I write a Facebook post saying the Ruth is in critical condition. I watch Ruth and see that her breathing continues to be very fast but that periodically it slows down. When that happens I really look to see if she is still breathing. The bells and buzzers start going off the technician and nurse come to the room quickly. The nurse looks intently at Ruth and does some stuff on the monitor next to the bed. This happens for about five minutes then the nurse says you might want to come over here and spend some time with Ruth. I go over to the bed and touch Ruth she is no longer breathing. I call her name and rub her chest. Nothing. The nurse says I need to page the doctor. She leaves the room and two other nurses or aides come into the room and start to disconnect to leads to the monitor. It is not as insensitive as it sounds in fact they were very sensitive and understanding and caring. In fact they asked if I was okay. After about two or three minutes the doctor comes in listens to Ruth’s chest, checks her eyes, which are closed, and then he looks at me and says “I’m sorry”.
On To The New Highway
I had never been present when a child of God transitioned from this earthly life to be with the Lord in Paradise so I didn’t know what to expect. I don’t know if this happens with everybody but my loving and beautiful wife made her transition with no pain, no crying out, she just stopped breathing and went to sleep. It was so peaceful it was as if nothing at all happened. She was at peace no more struggling, she had overcome so much in her life and now she is a peace. I thank God that I was there with her and that she knew that I was there. I was able to tell her that I love her and those may have been the last words that she heard. I do know that the last words that she spoke were I love you too.
Ruth’s faith rubber did hit the road and with a firm grip, now slipping or spinning out she us now traveling on that new highway. Her journey on this earth is now over but yours and mine continue. Look at her example she has shown us all how to travel this road that is full of potholes and dead ends, and blind spots. Her faith in God and her relationship with Jesus Christ have ensured her safe arrival and it can ensure yours too.
Ruth I love you and I miss you already but I know that it’s not forever. What is forever is our love and that we will both live in eternity with Christ. I love you.
Isaiah 57:1-2 (NLT) 1 Good people pass away; the godly often die before their time. But no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come. 2 For those who follow godly paths will rest in peace when they die.
John 11:25-26 (NKJV) 25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"
1 Corinthians 15:42-44 (NKJV) 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NKJV) 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Philippians 1:21 (NKJV) For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NKJV) 13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
Revelation 21:4 (NKJV) And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."
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Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.