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Jun 9, 2013

The Light?

The following is a post that I wrote for The Big Guy's Caring Bridge page and I thought it was worth sharing, for a bunch of reasons...1) I'm pathetically behind on keeping up with THIS page, 2) some people just like to read shit about that whole "seeing the light" thing, 3) I'm just showing off what an AMAZING man I have, in case you ever doubted me, 4) my friend Kathy said it could be the start of my next novel, and 5) it is pretty good reading.  Here you have it: 

Since everyone keeps asking us the BIG QUESTION, I thought I'd address it.
     In Larry's twelve minutes of near death experience, did he see “the light?”
    The answer is…no…he did not. He didn’t see any light, any old relatives, or anything else for that matter.
     On the upside he says he didn’t see any flames either. That’s good news, I’m assuming.

But this is what he does remember:  Meghan (the superstar of nurses) brought in the platelets. He told her that he had to pee first.
     He came back from the bathroom and sat on the edge of the bed and Meghan hung the platelets.
     Shortly after that he started having difficulty breathing and he told her so. She asked him if he was alright and he said, “no,” that he thought he needed to lie down.  He lay down on the bed and immediately his breathing worsened.    
     He remembers grabbing his chest and then he says he remembers cute little Meghan climbing on top of him and straddling him.
     And that is the last thing he remembers.
     (I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that any middle-aged man who has a hot little nurse straddling him is probably going to have a coronary.  Anaphylaxis reaction or not. Just sayin'.)

He says he remembers that it was about 5:30 AM.

The ER doctor called me at 6:27 AM and I got to the ICU at about 7:30.
     When I walked into the room and saw six nurses around him pushing pumps and taking vitals and charting, I felt strangely calm.
     He was clearly unconscious and on life support, but I still knew that he would be alright. Maybe it was shock. Maybe it was stupidity, but I knew that he would be OK. 
     I don’t really think of myself as someone who is as cool as a cucumber, but I think I was less panicked than anyone else in that room.
     Maybe it was because I just knew.
     I walked up to his bedside and took his hand and told him I was there. I did my best not to cry when I spoke to him because I didn’t want him to know that I was upset (understatement of the year). One of the nurses told me that she thought he knew I was there because his pulse rate suddenly changed.  I’ve been known to have that effect on him. 

Sierra, Aaron, Eliza, Robert, Ashley, and Jeff all arrived shortly after that. We all sat around for the remainder of the day and watched the ventilator breathe for him, wishing that he would move…a hand, a leg…something.

The next day, at around 7:30 AM, a full twenty-six hours later, the ICU nurse attempted to wake him up. She said that he started to panic and that he seemed to fight against the ventilator, so she gave him some more Michael Jackson Juice (Propofol) and put him lights out again.

Sierra and I arrived at about  8:30 that morning.  As the nurse began to wake him up for the second time she told us to talk to him and let him know we were there.
     Sierra, being a nurse herself, was telling her dad that he was on the ventilator and to not fight against it. To breathe. She asked him to follow simple commands and he did, to our relief.
    Me, being clueless and speechless, pretty much just rubbed his arm, like a robot, and silently prayed.

Larry says that when he started waking up on the ventilator he looked at the clock and saw that it was about 10:30 and he thought that he had been out for five hours, when in fact it had been about twenty-nine hours.
     Once he was fully awake he had to spend another three hours on the ventilator while they made sure he was breathing on his own.
     It was during this time that they gave him more platelets, explaining to us that they wanted him on the vent in case he had another reaction; so that he had an “open airway.”
     He may have been breathing on his own for those three hours but I can assure you that Sierra and I were holding our own breaths.

He was so amazing during this time.
Twice he threw up (from nausea) while on the vent. He regained his cool; so much that the nurses and respiratory therapists trusted him not to freak out so they unrestrained his hands.
     He was only able to communicate by nodding or blinking and he assured us that he would not do anything crazy, like try to pull the tube out. We were all in awe of his composure, but I felt like I was having my own panic attack at that time.

When you are married to someone for more than thirty years you can pretty much communicate with your eyes. Shut up…let’s go…I love you…not now…don’t you dare…You don’t even have to talk.
I desperately wanted this moment to be one of those times, but it wasn't.  Staring into his eyes I had NO IDEA what he wanted to say to me, but yet I could tell he had questions. I could see frustration, pain, and confusion and it killed me that I couldn’t understand what he was trying to ask me ~ or maybe tell me.

If the ventilator hadn’t been making that breathing noise for him you would have heard my heart breaking.

I couldn’t watch when they extubated him. The sounds of him coughing and the hoarseness of his barely audible voice made a huge lump in my own throat that I had to choke down. I’m a sissy that way and my “Caregiver” card should probably have been revoked right then and there.

God help him
, I was thinking. Then I realized that He already had.   

So to answer your question…no…he didn’t see the light. But I did. And he was in it.

Day Zero aka Transplant Day

For more about Larry's journey you can follow him at


  1. This is great to hear! With larry being tougher than a block wall it not in the least bit surprising but it is still great to hear!

  2. Thanks Chase, I always knew he was tough, but I had no idea he was ALMOST super human!