Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tracy Update 2

All -

I am so sorry that it's been a few days since the last update, but as you saw in Ginny's note, things have been a bit uncertain, and I think we have all felt a need to seek clarification before another note went out. So here's where things stand as of tonight.

According to Tracy's Mom, Tracy's condition has not improved despite all the various efforts of her doctors and medical staff, and they feel that there's nothing more that can be done aside from keeping her as free from discomfort as possible. The boys now are aware of the gravity of the situation with their Mom, and will meet with a Hospice representative Thursday with Tracy's mother June. I personally know and have great fondness for the Director of Hospice and Palliative Care for the Carolinas and am going to call her to enlist her help in providing the very best care for Tracy as she goes through her transition.

On a lighter note, I was able to take the boys to see IMAX "Avatar" yesterday to provide a little diversion, and we had fun. Rashan, Tracy's youngest son, insisted that we sit in the second row of the IMAX theater which initially had me swatting at the bugs in the forest only to realize that they were just 3D images - I very nearly smacked the head of the woman seated in the first row. Tracy's second son Shamel laughed at me, and I laughed at all three of them in their gigantic 3D glasses. We were quite a sight, but not alone as the theater was full of people in gigantic 3D glasses. As we left the theater, William, Tracy's oldest son, said "I hate this", and then pointed to the brown, blue and slightly green spots on his otherwise spotless white sweatshirt that matched his spotless white sneakers. Apparently his tri-blend Slurpee of Coke, Blue Fanta (whatever that is), and White Grape and had splattered on his sweatshirt during one of the more exciting scenes during the movie. So he proceeded to walk with his arms folded in front of him to cover the spots as we searched for the candy store to buy their grandmother her favorite candy, Jordan almonds. William apparently has a particular preference for the pink ones because "they taste the best", which I determined from the crunching sound emanating from the back seat of my truck due to a hole that somehow miraculously developed in the candy bag on the drive home. We didn't speak of their Mom's current situation and fortunately it didn't seem to hang heavy in the air, but of course it is ever present in their thoughts. Aside from ensuring that Tracy remains as comfortable as possible, my greatest concern at this point is the boys and ensuring that they have love and support during this terrible time, and going forward.

I apologize if what I'm about to share feels graphic and emotionally difficult to some of you, but I want to share and clarify what Andrea Farrell, Trent Thompson and I experienced when visiting Tracy this past Saturday. I feel it's important to do that because each of you knows and has experienced Tracy in your own special way, and I think Tracy would want you to know what's happening so that you can have understanding, and feel whatever you might, in your own way.

When we reached Tracy's room in ICU we could see her sitting up with a pen in her hand resting on a tablet of paper. We donned disposable gowns and latex gloves and went into the room. She both looked better, and was more lucid than we expected, and according to the attending nurse, she was more alert than she'd been in quite a while. It was obvious to me that she couldn't speak due to the tracheal tube inserted into the lower part of her neck and throat which connects to the respirator that breathes for her. The tube's placement doesn't allow breath to pass over her vocal chords so speech isn't possible. Based on my experience with my Mom and others, that's much less invasive and uncomfortable than a tube placed in the mouth. But she was awake and alert, and seemed to recognize us and was able to very, very slightly nod and shake her head in answer to questions, and speak with her eyes. She had tried to write, but there were only scratch marks on the pad as her hand wasn't strong enough to form letters. It broke my heart to see that, and yet it became such a sweet and wonderful visit. Andrea helped us determine that Tracy's uncovered feet were cold, so she asked the nurse to bring a blanket, and that helped. Trent made a joke that made Tracy cough, but she got through that quickly, and I have to admit that I was relieved that for once it wasn't me who made the joke that made her cough. I held her hand in mine and when I'd take it away, she'd move hers toward me. So I held her hand for as long as I could. At the end of the visit, we each kissed and hugged her, told her how much we and everyone we know loves her, and said we'd be back to visit again.

Initially I was heartened, encouraged and relieved, joyful actually, at what I saw, and I believe Andrea and Trent felt the same as we spoke about it afterward. However, when I spoke with Tracy's mother later in the day, she explained that Tracy had been taken off the heavy sedatives that had been used to keep her still while the staff administered treatment. Her resulting coherence was due to that rather than an improvement in her actual physical condition. The doctors have now discontinued all treatment medications because Tracy was not improving with them, but unfortunately she cannot survive without them. That was a horribly sad and disheartening thing for Tracy's Mom to have to tell me, and it was equally so for me to hear, and is to share with you.

I promise to update you with what I learn in the days to come. In the meantime, please continue to send love and positive energy, pray or whatever helps you in your sorrow, and helps Tracy and her loved ones in this time. I truly believe that it makes a difference, and I know that Tracy and her family appreciate everything you've done and will do.

My love to you all - JL

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