September 19, 2010
(written over approximately 2 weeks)
Thursday, Friday, Saturday. For the rest of my life those three days will hold such unbearable sadness for me.
It's one year later since Rob's death. I have a lot of memories of those three days, and I feel like I need to write them down, exorcise them from my mind. I don't mean that I want to forget them entirely, because bad or good, I want to keep all of my memories of Rob with me always. I just mean that by writing about them here perhaps I can shed some of the pain they've brought me.
Lenny got me out of bed that morning. This was odd because Rob always lifted me out of bed in the mornings. Odder still was the fact that, without telling me, Rob had called Lenny beforehand and asked him to do this favour for him because he (Rob) was feeling weak and out of breath and had to go see his doctor.
When Rob returned from the doctor, he told Lenny and me that he had been so winded from climbing the stairs that the receptionist had asked him if he was all right. The doctor listened to his chest and said that his heart sounded a bit fast but ok other than that. He was more concerned about Rob's breathing, so he gave Rob a requisition for lung tests at St Michael's Hospital. Before Rob left, he fed the cats, had a smoke, and, much to my chagrin, put his Facebook status to: "Rob Warenda is going to the hospital today. He's not sure if he'll ever be coming back."
Rob left for the hospital, and I wanted to follow and stay with him. Worry began gnawing at my insides. I thought maybe Rob had pneumonia or the early onset of emphysema. I wanted to go with him, but I had a doctor's appointment of my own to go to. Finally, someone was going to look at my neck (it hurt so much!) and try to stop the constant pain I'd been in for the last 6 months. Besides, Rob was just going to the hospital for tests. He'd be home soon, right?
I ended up not going to the appointment. Instead, I took a piece of pot chocolate for the pain and went to the hospital with Lenny.
It seemed so surreal to be in the same hospital again where Rob had almost died from Pancreatitis nine years previously.
From mid-afternoon until nighttime, Lenny and I kept Rob company in the ER. He told us that the doctors wouldn't let him go home yet because they wanted to do more tests. They told him that his heart was "tacky", and then we saw that on his medical sheet that it had S.O.B. written on it. We laughed at that and concluded that they probably weren't calling Rob a son of a bitch but simply referring to his shortness of breath. And we joked that maybe they meant that his heart was tacky like a Valentine's Day card.
Rob told me that one doctor had told him that he had blood clots in his lungs and that was why he was experiencing shortness of breath.. The doctor also told Rob that if he went home that night he could die. Rob's response to this was: "I told him,, 'Cool! Not everybody knows what day they're going to die.'" If I could have reached him in that hospital bed, I would have given Rob such a smack! As it was, both Lenny and I chastised him soundly for that cavalier comment. "What?" Rob said with a grin in that smart-ass way of his. "I'm not going to die! They think it could be my heart, but I'm not in terrible pain; my left arm doesn't hurt; and, I'm not sweating profusely like I would be if I actually were having a heart attack." Rob also explained to us that he'd had similar episodes before this and he would always felt better afterward when he had a bowel movement. What heart attack, Rob reasoned, got cured by having a bowel movement?
Now the doctors were fighting about whether to put Rob in the Cardiovascular or the Pulmonary Ward, and poor Rob just wanted to get home.
Rob insisted on going outside for a smoke before committing to the idea of being fully admitted. Lenny and I tried to give him as many reasons as we could think of as to why he should stay. I knew that Rob hated hospitals, and that he didn't actually think that there was anything wrong with him, so I was panicking, thinking that he would just go home.
The three of us went back inside, and Lenny told Rob that if he stayed, they would go home with me and bring back anything he wanted. We sat there and made a list of stuff he wanted. The top three items all said: "I want to go home." Number four was, "I want my coffee." Number five was, "I want to go home." The rest of the list consisted of his I-pod, ginger ale, Halls, and a pack of smokes (that's my Rob!).
Lenny and I went home after that. I went to bed and Lenny gathered up all the stuff Rob had asked for. At 1 am, Lenny was stopped by a hospital security guard, asking where he was going with that enormous mug of coffee. Lenny shrugged and replied, "To the cardiac wing." The guard let him go.
Friday, September 18, 2009
I will never forget this memory for as long as I live: Rob was standing in the hallway like he was waiting for Sarah and me. He said that he had heard the noise of my wheelchair. He seemed excited to see me, and I zoomed my chair right over to him.
As Rob complained about the hospital food, among other things, Sarah and I made packs of cards on Rob's bed. Rob complained about not being able to get Internet service in his room. He told us he had walked down to the visitors' lounge, where there is Wi-fi, but the heart monitor he was connected to went nuts, and his doctor said, "Okay, no more walking for you." Until then, he had pretty much convinced the doctors to let him go home for a while, to straighten up the computers and "take care" of me.
I was there when Rob's doctor came back and explained to Rob that at first they thought it was the blood clots in his lungs that were the main problem, but the blood thinners that they had given Rob seemed to be getting rid of them. Now they thought it had to do with his heart, and they would keep him in over a week to do tests. I heard Rob explain once again how it couldn't be anything serious with his heart because whenever he had felt this way before, it always felt better after he had a bowel movement.
I was so scared for my poor Rob that I went hone and cried all during dinner. Grace gave me a talking to! She told me that Rob was young and strong, and he needed me to be strong and not to cry. Rob would be all right, she assured me.
I felt better. Grace was right. Rob was young, strong, and healthy. He had recovered from Acute Pancreatitis, hadn't he? He'd be fine, I was sure of it. Besides, the doctor said he wanted to have Rob stay in for a week for tests, so it didn't sound like Rob was in any immediate danger.
Lamia went with me back to the hospital. I can't remember what we talked about, just that we laughed a lot.
I did feel some unease, though, when Rob said he wasn't very hungry, Ginger Ale didn't appeal to him, and his craving for cigarettes was nil. That wasn't like my Rob at all!
Anger began to stir within me. The doctors prescribed Rob water pills and told him to remain in bed and to wear an oxygen mask, but the water pills made Rob have to get up every few minutes to go to the washroom. Why didn't they give him a catheter or even a bottle? And, why the devil didn't I insist on something like this before I left? I still feel angry over these things!
And, speaking of anger, I got rather peeved at Rob for saying that if he did die at least I wouldn't have to deal with him buying so much computer stuff. I literally growled at him and said that if he did die I'd kill him. (I wanted to keep it light and jokey so not to stress Rob out.) Rob laughed and said, "Don't worry, Sweety, I'm not going to die."
There was a time when Lamia left us by ourselves, to call her partner Mishann, I think. While we were alone, on his way back into bed from the bathroom, Rob hugged and kissed me, told me he loved me, and fondled my right breast fleetingly.
At around 9:00 pm, Lamia and I decided to go. I was torn:
I didn't want to leave Rob, but I had to pee badly and hospitals, to my knowledge, don't have commode chairs. Also, I had to go to bed early so I could get up at 5:00 am and go to the market.
And so, Rob and I said our goodbyes. We told each other we loved each other, blew kisses at each other (Rob felt too weak to get out of bed again), and I told him I'd come to see him right after the market. He grinned and said, "Ok, see you later, Sweety."
And then Lamia and I left.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
I heard the phone ring once at 3:30 am, and then again at 3:45. Except for the cats, I was completely alone. I thought maybe it was a wrong number, or that Motria was calling to tell me that she'd be late getting me up. And yes, it crossed my mind that it was the hospital calling. Maybe Rob was in trouble, and they were calling to get permission to do a procedure or something. If I was honest with myself, there was a tiny spark of fear that kindled way back in the deepest, darkest part of my mind that suspected the worst thing imaginable.
Motria came at 5:00 am, and right away I told her about the phone calls. To my horror, when we checked the messages, it was the worst thing imaginable! Rob had had a massive heart attack, and, although they'd tried their best to save him, they couldn't.
While I cried inconsolably, Motria called my mother and all of my friends and told them the dreadful news.
As you can imagine, that day is a jumbled-up mess of memories. What I remember is this:
- The surreal feeling of leading my mother and all of my friends to St Michael's Hospital, stopping occasionally to cry and get hugged and reassured.
- Being alone with Rob's body, saying farewell. I touched his hair, cheek, arm, hand - even one of his nipples - knowing that I'd never feel the touch of him again.
- Talking with the doctor, hearing him apologize and say that an MRI should have been done sooner, but no one knew how serious it had really been.
- Home again, with cats, Mom, friends all around me. Rob's favourite music played, pizza was ordered, different types of alcohol flowed, humourous tales were recollected. Delicious dish after homemade dish were given to me, and I accepted graciously, even though the very last thing I wanted to do was eat.
The first time that I laid eyes on the hunk of man that was to become my sweetie of 22 years was at the Scarborough Town Centre in January of 1988. We had previously chatted over several bulletin boards online and had found out that we really cared for each other and, well, lusted after each other. My mom and friend Louise thought they'd better accompany me on this first date at M'goo's ice cream parlour. They mistrusted Rob, and Mom even said, "What if he's an axe murderer?" I laughed and said, "Mom, I'm sure he hasn't murdered any axes."
A fraction of a second after they left us alone together, we were in each other's arms. We found a quiet place to talk and kiss and make googly eyes at each other. We knew from that moment on, we were meant to be together.
My Dad, on the other hand, was skeptical about our relationship: the first time Rob took me out in his car, Dad ran out the door and wrote down Rob's license plate number.
I remember one time one of Rob's cousins invited us over to her place. It was an odd and unforgettable afternoon. The place was kind of messy and the doorways were very narrow, so Rob picked me up and put me on the couch. The oddest part was that his cousin never actually showed up, so we entertained ourselves by sitting on the couch and necking for maybe one or two hours. There was a lamp above the couch that hung very low, and I remember hitting my head on it several times, but I barely noticed because I was young and in love and horny.
Rob and I had a lot of fun on our first dates. We went to parties, and to Canada's Wonderland. I remember going to one party in the evening. They served hot dogs, burgers, and lots of beer. By the time it got dark, I was wasted, and I was in my manual chair with no seat belt. I didn't believe in wearing seat belts back then. The combination of being drunk and sitting on a vinyl seat had comical outcomes: suddenly I slipped out of the seat and onto the foot rest. It was so dark Rob couldn't see me, but he followed my laughter and picked me up.
I loved going to Canada's Wonderland and going on the rides. One time Rob asked me if I wanted to go on the bridge and get sprayed on by the log ride. By "sprayed on," I thought we would get a bit of mist on us, so I agreed. Much to my shock and amazement, this tidal wave of water came straight at us. I opened my mouth to gasp and swallowed a ton of water. Once again I wasn't wearing a seat belt so I almost floated away, but Rob grabbed me and held me in place.
I love you, Rob! Good and bad, I'll always cherish my memories of our life together.