Two weeks ago today, I said good-bye to my Scotty. He was the father of our two little babes, my best friend, my love, my reality check, my provider, my favorite person in the whole world, my husband. I don't know why he left us or how something like this could have ever happened and never will. But that's the reality of death, right? It's shitty and sad and I hate it. He was 37 years old and the healthiest I've ever seen him.
Over the last year+ he decided to change his life and make it a happier one. He went back to skateboarding (and aced it), lost 30lbs and rejuvenated his passion for art with his skate sketches. He was happy - we all were and it was awesome. We were having the best year ever as a family and the day before it all happened, we had the BEST day ever. Since all of this, I've been touched by the messages, love and good vibes sent from close ones and strangers. So in an effort to release some of the crazy that I'm feeling... I'm sharing my story about how I lost my husband and became a widow at 32.
*This story is not for everyone. It is not pretty. It will not make you smile. Please don't feel obligated to read.
On Wednesday, June 24, 2014, Scott took the day off and together we surprised Maya and Senna with a day at an amusement park (Hershey Park). Now, I'm terrified of roller coasters, but the girls and Scott... they love them. So Scott took them on every possible ride they could for their height and then ventured onto a few alone. It was hot, fun and memorable. Before and after every ride the three of them lit up with pure joy. The smiles on their faces and the recaps they shared were beautiful to hear. After 7 hours, we came home, gave the girls a bath and said good-night to them. Then as usual, I started some blog work and Scott went outside to skate for an hour or two. It was our evening routine. I remember him coming back inside all sweaty and excited because he aced some trick he'd been working on. He was like a kid experiencing something new and he was like that all the time with skateboarding. His smile... so good. He showered and we went to bed.
Early the next morning on the 25th, sometime after 4am I woke up to hear Scott gasping, choking and shaking. Initially it sounded like he was snoring really loud, but then I noticed it was different. This exact situation had happened a few weeks prior and we had no idea why. He woke up, was shaken, then with intentions on seeing the doctor slipped by and it was forgotten. But this time was different. I tried to wake him and lift him up, but I couldn't. I panicked as I watched him stop moving. Struggle to take a breath and then stop. I was terrified, yelling and called 911. What was I supposed to do? How could help him? I felt so helpless. As instructed I attempted to give him CPR and mouth to mouth, but nothing. I couldn't do it. Why couldn't I get it to work for him?
The paramedics arrived and after some time was able to get a pulse back. I kept thinking... what's going on? Is he gone? What am I supposed to do? What the hell happened? As the ambulance left with my dear husband, I had to talk to the girls who had both woken up and were huddled in a room together. What do you say to a 5 and 6 year old? Maya asked if he was dead... my heart stopped. Senna asked if he fainted, so I simply said yes. I explained that a neighbor was coming over to spend the day with them and that I would be going to see daddy to make sure everything was ok. I called my in-laws and headed over to the ER.
I don't even remember what I was thinking on the way over. I was confused, didn't know what I was doing. I remember sitting in a private ER waiting room.... A doctor came in to explain that Scott went into cardiac arrest, but we don't know why. They were taking him to surgery to get a cardiac cartherization to see what was happening inside. So we waited in another room for hours. Me and my in-laws, all a mess. Once it was done, there were still no answers. Everything checked out ok. His heart... lungs... ok.
We went to our third waiting room, this time in the ICU. We were then explained that they were going to put Scott in an induced coma and a hypothermic process that would chill his body temperature in an attempt to slow his brain and body function down and would last for 24 hours. After that, they would attempt to raise his body temperature back to normal and over several days reduce his sedating meds. So I slept at the hospital, watching him shiver from the cold, hooked up to a million machines, holding his hand and ripped shirt in my arms, crying. I didn't understand why were there. He's thirty seven. 3.7.
I have to admit that I was scared and always assuming the worst. I saw him die. How could he come back? I want him back, but how would any of this be possible? Everyone around me was positive, sending well wishes, saying he would come back to us- that we just have to wait for the next step. The next step came, they raised his body temperature and he began having seizures. Big, small, consistent, inconsistent. He was seizing through the meds they gave him. After three days there, the doctor made the decision to fly him into the city to the Neuro ICU where they could treat him best, now. And in less than an hour, I watched a team prep him for flight and the room was empty. The last three days gone.
My heart dropped. I couldn't take it. Would he be okay? I didn't want him to be alone. I didn't want to be alone. Before heading to the next hospital, I stopped home to pick up clothes, take a shower and cry again. I remember feeling frozen in my car and dropping to the ground when I got out. I was so scared to walk into the house alone. I just couldn't understand any of this. I wouldn't be here at this house, with this life, family ... without him. Nothing I had, nothing I had become was possible without him.
I don't know how, but I drove into the city and found my Scotty in a new room, with new doctors, new nurses and new hope. The doctors saw that he was in a constant state of seizing and before anything could happen, the had to stop them. Then once they did, he'd have to be settled for 48 hours. So we waited some more. Friends and family came by, which was good at times and difficult at others. I half slept trying to listen to everything that was going on. The doctors began to reduce his sedation meds, super slowly and only every 12 hours. I slept there making one trip back to see the girls for a night - it felt awful and scary, but their hugs were full. I was trying to contain my emotions so they wouldn't be frightened while trying to figure out who would care for them so I could get back to him... I hated being away. I was lost and just wanted to be in his presence.
Back at the hospital, one of his 5 seizure meds was reduced from 100 to 40... that was good. That was hopeful. Then the next step was an EEG test. They placed sensors on his arms, stimulating his muscles to see if messages were being received by his brain, but the results wouldn't be returned until the next day. I was ok with that. It gave me time with him. To hold his hand, talk to him, cry next to him. This was a test that would tell us what to do. Tell us if he was there, if he had a future. He had to. He had to. I had to know. The next night was hard. Scott started seizing again and it only got worse, taking us back 4 steps. He was back on all his meds and they added another. And another. More people came and so did the news. His EEG test was inconclusive. One side came up negative and the other wasn't complete. They had to redo it in the morning.
I remember breaking down. One side negative. That's terrible. He wasn't receiving the messages and he can't function that way. Even though the test was being taken again the next day, I knew I had to think about the reality of it all. Every doctor and nurse told me to think about what he would want and then I would have my decision. But I hated that. It felt so finite. They said it would be a miracle if he would come out of it and then if he would be able to function. How is anyone supposed to handle this stuff? I didn't want to make any decisions. So I waited for the next test results.
At this point I was frustrated with all the positivity of visitors. Sounds stupid, probably, but I was. I was there at night and during the day. I watched him lay there, peacefully. But I know he'd be so mad. So angry that this happened, he would feel ripped off by life. And so did I. I don't want to be alone and certainly not without him. What about our girls? Hated it.
The next day they retook the test and the results for both sides were negative. Meaning, if he woke up, he wouldn't know it. He wouldn't be aware. He wouldn't be Scott. And I knew the decision was made for me. He would never want to live that way. None the less, I struggled with the decision. It was stupid. No one is supposed to do this kind of stuff and certainly not at 32 years old with two kids. I remember holding off that day to tell anyone. His parents were spending the night with Maya and Senna and I didn't want to ruin it for them. So I waited until the next day and asked them to come visit.
Together in hysterics, we agreed. We had to. It wasn't our choice, we had to let him go.
Once the decision was made, things moved fast and slow. We were able to get genetic testing approved. That would tell us if there is any gene mutation that could affect both the girls and his brother, but those results take months. Reps from the organ donation center came by to discuss options, but if we said yes we would have to wait 8-12 hours longer so they could find appropriate recipients. Now, while this is an incredible thing to do and Scott was an organ donor... it freaked me out. It meant someone else would have Scott with them, in them, but I wouldn't. And it meant that all of this was real.
For many hours while we waited. We laughed, we cried and assured each other with love. Then at 1:00am on the 4th of July, we suited up and walked down to the operating room. It felt like a movie and suddenly I was emotionless. I had no tears left. Will I ever feel like this was the right decision? Can I change my mind? Why was this happening?
Shortly after we entered the operating room, the turned off the respirator and removed his breathing tube. I watched his pulse go up and down... hoping that somehow through some movie magic, he would wake up. But he didn't. And for the second time, I watched my husband take his last breath. And he was gone.
Was eight days of trying enough? I'll never know and I'll never be okay with the decision, but I will love him and forever be grateful for the girls he gave me.
I love you, Scotty. Always your Kimball.