“What If”

Once again, on September 10th, I (along with countless others) posted yet another iteration of the “On this day, hundreds packed their bags” memorial post on FaceBook. It’s a lovely sentiment, and, no doubt, thousands of people will be posting their own version of it on social media today and tonight.

I posted something like this last year on the eve of 9/11.

Events this year have made this even more relevant to me.

I hope you agree.

September 10, 2016:
On this day 15 years ago, millions of Americans went about their usual routines. Later that night they would to bed quietly, with no thought that the next morning their world would change forever.

That night hundreds packed flight bags they would not live to open.

Thousands set the alarm clock for the last time, unaware that the next morning would be the last time they ever got out of bed.

Thousands slept with their loved ones for the last time. Some possibly had an argument, and maybe went off to sleep without telling their partner “goodnight”, or “I love you”.

One never knows what a new day has in store.

Let us live each day to the fullest and never miss a chance to let those dearest to us know how very much we love them.

So tonight if you have someone in your life that you love, or care about – tell them . . .

I just did.

Never forget.

Love you guys.

That got me to thinking, as I am wont to do, because, while I posted a sweet memorial on FB, I also had let off a string of, shall we say “less than charitable” tweets on Twitter the day before.

I was going to write “Hypocrite, thou art Judianna”, but it’s more like “We’re only human”. And, as humans, we forget. We forget the “What If’s”

“What If” your last tweet was GFY?

“What If” your last act was flipping off that idiot driver going too slow in front of you?

“What If” your last conversation with your spouse was something heated and accusatory because they didn’t put the dishes in the dishwasher in the right direction?

“What If”?

OR, “What If” the last tweet you read was someone telling you what part of your anatomy your head was located in?

“What If” the last person you laid eyes on was an angry individual giving you the one finger salute?

“What If” the last words you heard from your beloved was “Why didn’t you…”?

Many years ago, when hubby and I were first married, he had a serious enough bout of stomach pain and a long enough history of heart problems that I raced him to the emergency room. It was Thanksgiving night and, as we were waiting to be seen in the examining room, we observed a little old man and his tiny bird-like wife walking down the hall behind a too-busy-to-be-nice-because-it’s-a-holiday-and-I-have-to-work-dammit ER doc.

The doctor was very insistently telling the man that he should sign a DNR (do not resuscitate) order because “you are old and you have a lot wrong with you”. I heard his wife gasp and watched her visibly blanche and my heart went out to her. Her husband, obviously the strong force in their who-knows-how-long union, said “Nah. I’m a tough old bird. I will survive this and I’ll be just fine”. His words were possibly meant more to comfort his shaken wife, or perhaps they were a polite man-to-man slap in the face to the smarmy ER doc.

I told hubby that, number one, I hoped we didn’t draw him as a doctor (we didn’t) and, number two, that I hoped the old man pulled through and lived many happy years just to show that smarty pants a thing or two.

That memory came rushing back the Saturday before my husband was discharged from the hospital. It was barely 7:00 a.m. and I hadn’t even downed my first cup of coffee when I got a panic phone call from him.

It seems the hospitalist (I hesitate to even refer to him with the respected title of “doctor”, so from here on out I will simply call him “Poopyhead”) had just left the room. Hubby informed him that the attending cardiologist was weaning him off of his dopamine drip and he was going to be sent home in a few days with a prescription for a tablet that would maintain his blood pressure. “Poopyhead” said “Oh. You think so? I have news for you – the second they stop that drip, your heart will stop and you’ll die. You’re not going to make it home”. And with that, he whirled around and left the room.

Hubby dialed me and, choking back tears, begged me to get to the hospital so he could say one last goodbye.

I’m not sure how many drivers I flipped off on my race to the hospital. It is most probable, however, that the floor nurse, who had the misfortune to be in my husband’s room when I came screaming up the stairs, will not soon forget me, nor the torrent of curse words I bestowed upon her. She then informed me that hubby had, on “Poopyhead’s” insistence (and while on a morphine derivative, by the way), signed a DNR the night before.

I demanded to see “Poopyhead” immediately, and I told her in no uncertain terms that we were revoking the DNR. Just then the attending cardiologist walked by and I flagged him down, told him about the pronouncement from “Poopyhead” and asked what the cat hair was going on. He said that no, discontinuing the drip would most certainly not mean imminent demise and, that he had put in orders for a bolus and additional medication should hubby’s blood pressure drop precipitously.

That began a three day barrage and harangues from Poopyhead (who said that he was just “being a realist”) and the charge nurse who were both hell bent on us leaving the DNR in place. Unfortunately, DNR now equated “Do Not Remember To Check On The Patient At All”, and hubby was equally hell bent on not dying in the hospital. I explained forcefully (and probably impolitely) that, even if they resuscitated him long enough for me to drive him home and let him die there, that was his wish. This time it was my words that were meant not only as a comfort to my visibly shaken husband, but I made certain that they were delivered with enough accuracy that they were a direct slap in the face to Poopyhead (only because there was a hospital gurney between us).

Anyway, their barrage was one we withstood because, in the end, even though hubby is terminal, he’s by gosh going to pass away in his time and God’s time and not at the convenience of some hospital internist or to satisfy the balance sheet of an insurance company.

Which takes me back to my “What If’s?”

“What If” the last words my husband ever heard was the smarmy declaration of Poopyhead and he passed away in a panic?

“What If” I hadn’t made it past that ridiculously slow driver on my way to the hospital to say I love you one more time?

On the other hand, “What If” I hadn’t revoked the DNR? Would he have even survived the next few days and made it home to celebrate our last anniversary together?

“What If” I’d meekly acquiesced to the nurse and to Poopyhead and not flagged down the cardiologist (whose orders had conveniently *not* been entered in on hubby’s chart until our conversation in front of the nurse)?

“What If” I hadn’t reached out to so many friends and strangers alike to get the help I needed to bring my man home one more time?

I’m somewhere between wanting to be humble and grateful and gracious, and being the redheaded pit bull with lipstick who is not going to allow any of her friends or loved ones to be pushed around and will mightily push back when necessary.

In other words, I’m only human. And, as a human, I’m struggling each day with the “What If’s”.

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