13 May 2008

Things to say before I catch a couple hours of sleep

I don't know if I have a point to make or not. I just feel compelled to write here a little.

Bill Reid was my Masonic coach. This means that, many years ago, he spent hours and hours with me teaching me portions of "the work," which requires a whole lot of memorization. Bill knew the work perfectly (hours of it), and he always insisted that I get it "letter perfect." Over the past few months, he's been working on some floor work with me - Brothers will know what I mean by that.

I was called to Fairmont General Hospital around noon yesterday - Bill has no immediate family, and I'm his medical power. Bill's oxygen sats crashed Monday late morning, and the Rescue Squad took him up to the ER. I crashed my afternoon with the assistance of my really great staff, and went up to the ER. My buddy Judge Born permitted me to appear in two brief matters by phone yesterday afternoon and basically told me to keep my ass up at FGH to take care of business. Bill was getting really good care from the ER people, with Dr. Porfili, a really competent and personable lady. She called in Bro. Doc Brad Miller, who dropped everything, came running, and took the medical control of things. Brad discussed with us (including Bill) treatment options, and that this was the end -- basically, really aggressive treatment might prolong Bill for a few days of total misery. It was BILL'S decision to call it a day, and be kept comfortable.

Brothers came and went all evening, and both Bill's pastor and my/our pastor, Josh Patty, came running and stayed for hours doing their spiritual/pastoral thing. Bro. Gary Donaldson and his wife Gracie, came up from Weston early afternoon, and stayed to the end a little while ago, and Bro. Gary Bolyard hurried up from FSU. Lots of other brothers were in and out. We settled in at 8 or so, and just waited for the end, talking to Bill, reading to Bill, praying with Bill. It was really weird watching the ECG - that's one of the few skills I still have a little bit intact from my paramedic days, and I wish I didn't remember it - the green squiggles don't represent life, but they reveal life function. And Bill passed beyond, and we were there -- the others hadn't seen a death before -- and I've seen too many - but this time was different - The ICU staff told us they'd be with us all the way, but they had a patient crashing in another room, we told them that there wasn't anything they could do for Bill, to take care of the living, so I ended up telling the others what was happening as it happened.

I don't know what my point is. It's coming up on 6 AM, I'm back at the office, and I have to get out of here at 8 to go to Morgantown for weight class, then to the funeral home to sign stuff, and then (hopefully) an afternoon of shooting at the farm. I'm fried, I'm sad, I'm encouraged (and oddly, I'm reading The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins, and after this night's work, he can go straight to hell), and I'm awash in epinephrine.

There is a message in this experience. I'm just too damn tired to figure it out tonight. Any takers?

Pippa passes.


JC said...

Dearest R~
I can only tell you what I think the message is. I was alone with my mother when she died. I had never seen anyone die before, and I imagined panic and gasping and the oft-mentioned "death rattle." There was nothing but silence. Since that day, I have not worried about my own death or that of the people I love because I learned that it is indeed possible to "go gently into that good night." I think God sends us comfort by letting us know that crossing the bridge between here and the beyond need not be a terrifying experience.

Anonymous said...

Roger, I'm sorry about your loss. You're a good friend.