September 11, 1999
Jeremy woke me up at about 4pm. His parents were visiting and Shane was "acting funny" so I got out of bed. When I went into the living room, Shane was sitting in the floor, surrounded by toys, Sesame Street blaring on the television, holding his best friend, "baby" (a stuffed Precious Moments pillow) and his Mimi (Grandma) was doing chest p.t. on him. He was coughing and the ends of his fingers were a little blue. I started to give him an albuterol treatment and sent Jeremy to the store to get a bulb syringe to see if we could clear his throat for him because he kept pointing to his mouth. I finished the treatment and started doing chest pt with Shane sitting in my lap. He was getting a little bluer so I called 911 and told them to send an ambulance just in case. One minute he was sitting there, seemingly ok except for the cough, and then he just passed out. I laid him down and tried starting beating his chest and shaking him to wake him up. Jeremy walked in just as he passed out. He was turning blue and I couldn't see his chest moving. I tried to get a pulse but I couldn't. I called 911 again, screaming "Where is the ambulance, he's coded. I called 5 minutes ago and we only live 2 blocks from the hospital!!!!!", all the while trying to do CPR. I handed the phone to Jeremy's mom so I could do mouth-to-mouth and when I went to blow in I could hear gurgling. I could barely get air in.
Jeremy's mom was on the phone and running around the house getting me the oxygen tank, ambu bag and anything else I screamed for (God bless that woman for being there and being calm and being such a huge help). While I was doing CPR, his chest tube blew. I was flashing back to the day he was born throughout it all- I could hear words coming out of my mouth, I was doing CPR mechanically without thinking about it, and yet an entirely different conversation and experience was going on in my head. It was like I was watching and not participating and all I could think was "Please God, no, please God, no….".
The ambulance finally got there. It was probably only 10 minutes from the first 911 call but it seemed like forever. I TOLD them I was riding along, they didn't want me in the ambulance. They had an ET-tube in Shane and were trying to get an IV line in. We got to the hospital and the staff wouldn't allow me in the crash room. I stood outside the door screaming that I was his mother and that they didn't know his history and I was no typical mom and they had better kill me before they were keeping me out of that room. One of the doctors finally relented when I started rolling off Shane's medical history and medical terms that he probably couldn't believe were coming out of this strange woman's mouth who obviously didn't look like a medical professional, having not even had time to brush my hair and wearing a stained sweat suit (stained from Shane). When I finally got in there I talked a nurse into finding Jeremy (who had followed us to the hospital) and bringing him in and talked the doctor into calling Shane's surgeon (thank God for Dr. Taylor explaining to him who we were and what we knew, the doctor's attitude toward us did a 180 after that phone conversation). Jeremy and I just stood there, holding each other, and watching the monitors. They couldn't shock Shane because he still had systolic pressure. It took an hour to get a good line in him (and surgery to get it). There were a dozen people in there working on him and every 10 minutes or so the doctor came over to us and told us that they weren't getting any response, even after pumping him with Epinephrine. I only left the room for a few minutes to call my family.
In what seemed like only seconds, 2 hours had passed and then I had this calm come over me. I always told other parents that they would "know when it was time to let go". Now we knew it was time. After 2 hours and pnuemothoracies (air in his chest cavity from all the bagging), his diaphragm probably totally gone, and his brain irreversibly damaged, Shane was gone. Shane was gone before we even left the house. The doctor came over to us again and we told him we knew it was over. I asked them to keep working on him long enough so that we could say a prayer and Jeremy and I could hold him when they stopped. All the doctors and nurses held hands with Jeremy, his parents, and me and even the doctor said a prayer. We held him when they stopped bagging him. I was so numb and I didn't want to let him go and at the same time I just wanted to run away. We left so they could clean him up and they brought a rocking chair down from the maternity ward. I called Judi and told her what happened and in a few hours she was on her way to NC to be with us and she was calling some of the members. My family got there and we took turns holding him, even my little nieces and nephews wanted to hold him. They were confused but not scared and I'm glad they got to say good-bye. We had to take Shane to the deserted x-ray waiting room to hold him because they needed to empty the crash room. We held him for hours and took pictures and cried and cried. We told him it was ok to go to heaven about 10 times before it felt like he left. He didn't want to leave us and it broke my heart to tell him to go. I just couldn't comprehend that I would never get to hold him again. I never wanted to hand him back to the hospital.
This is the hardest thing I've ever had to write and I don't know how to
say it but bluntly because right now I can't handle getting emotional in
this e-mail. Shane coded at home today. His pneumonia had gotten
worse, but we didn't know it and he was coughing so I gave him an
albuterol treatment and did chest pt and he just coughed and passed
out. We called 911 and they tried for 2 hours to bring him back, but he
was gone. We got to hold him and do so many things that parents like us
do (it's so hard to be a part of that group now). We're still in shock
and I'm praying we'll wake up tomorrow and none of this will be true.
He died at home, watching Sesame Street, surrounded by his toys and the
things he loves and right now that brings us so much comfort amidst all
this guilt of "why didn't we.... ?". It hurts like hell and I know it
will hurt worse when it sinks it. That little boy was and is our life
and I can't imagine what tomorrow will be like without him. We know
he's not suffering and in pain anymore- but now our pain and suffering
begins. Please say a prayer for him and us.
Dawn and Jeremy
parents of Shane 1/28/93-9/11/99 (it took me 20 minutes to type that,
it's the first time I've ever had to and it hurts)
(to be continued)......