At last night’s memorial gathering I realized that the specific details of Dan’s passing haven’t really been discussed or shared. There are certainly no secrets to be hidden – in all honesty, it is simply something that has not occurred to me. Therefore, here is what happened on Sunday, March 26, 2017:
Dan had avoided using his wheelchair the night before, instead using his walkers to move from the sofa, to the stairs, and then to the bed. He was so proud of this. On Sunday morning, when he was ready and dressed, he intended to get downstairs again using only his walkers. He had gotten as far as the bedroom doorway when he suddenly seemed to have difficulty breathing. I called 911. The paramedics arrived quickly, since the station Is just down the road. By the time the ambulance left, Dan was in full cardiac arrest.
The ambulance beat me to the hospital, and Dan’s mom Jackie arrived shortly after I did. We asked to go back to see him. The nurse warned us that they were administering CPR and we may want to wait in the waiting room, but we decided to go back. I’m glad we did. Not knowing what was going on would have made it worse.
When we got to the emergency room bay, there were easily ten people in the small room. We watched as they did everything they possibly could to get Dan’s heart beating again. It is notable that throughout this entire time, one of the nurses (her name was Nancy – I wish I had gotten her last name) maintained a running narrative just for me and Jackie to let us know what was going on and what was being done and why. This was not necessary for them to work, but I cannot begin to say how appreciated her efforts were. Unfortunately, after a full 30 minutes the doctor had to say they had done all that they could.
An autopsy determined that the cause of death was bilateral pulmonary embolism, and there is really nothing anyone could have done. He was on a blood thinner, but between the back surgery, the limited mobility, and the fact that not every blood thinner works for every person, the best you can do is minimize the risk – you can’t remove it completely. Someone is that single-digit percentage who is unlucky enough, and unfortunately that was Dan.
I hope that no one is upset to read this. I think that the facts are important, and the knowledge that everyone did everything that they possibly could at all opportunity is worth noting and recording. This account is not how Dan will or should be remembered, though. It is but a passing moment in a life well-lived, the life of man I loved with all of my heart and will always love.
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