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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

God said; "OK" - Part One

King's Canyon Camping Trip - April 2011

I haven't written much about our sweet Jeff. His family is pretty private and I don't want to risk overstepping boundaries. But somehow, I feel like a corner has been turned in this respect. Something has definitely changed. Don't get me wrong. We're not entirely out of the woods here. There is a long, long way to go. But there is something different...about Jeff, about his parents, about everything.

Jeff has always told Bry that he was at peace with God and that if God decided it was time for him to go, he would be okay with that. Bryson always told us that he may not like it, but whatever brings Jeff peace, brings him (Bryson) peace. He will always support his friend in whatever kind of support he needs. Over the past two years of this ordeal, that has usually meant "going and doing". Camping, surfing, road trips. Anything that Jeff has uttered that has been possible, Bry has tried to make it happen.

Two weeks ago, we saw a quick decline in Jeff's already compromised health. He was just beginning radiation treatments when his belly began to distend and swell. He was thirsty, but couldn't drink. He thought he was constipated, but couldn't go. He began to get weak, but refused to go to the hospital. Finally, when he could barely move, his dad literally carried him to the ER, where they drained over a litre of liquid from his abdomen. Still, no one knew why it was happening or where the fluid was coming from. They sent him home. Days passed, more fluid buildup, more drainage, still no answers. His body began to shut down. Back to the hospital where, after scans, and tests his parents were told he had an infection in his intestines along with a mass. They couldn't rush in to remove it because his white count was so low that he wouldn't survive the surgery. So, he went through an intensive platelet and antibiotic infusion for 24 hours. Still, the bad news was that they were going to have to remove a large part of his colon and if he made it through the surgery, the recovery, even for someone stronger and not already in poor health, would be long and difficult. During this time, weak, weary, and very tired, he told Bry that he wanted to "be done". He just wanted all of this over. None of us could blame him. He told his mom that he thought he was dying. He'd never said those words before.

His poor parents. My heart hurt. We had watched them, over the past two years, age with worry and fear. Doing everything in their power to help their son and also struggling to want to take over with decisions. But knowing that Jeff is a legal adult and wanted to make the decisions with regard to his healthcare. Helpless at times, and so overwhelmed. This crappy deal sucked for everyone. I honestly have no intelligent way to say it. It's unfair and it sucks.

On Saturday, we had a houseful of family for an early Christmas celebration. But Charlie and I told Bryson that everyone understands if he needs to be at the hospital during the surgery. He said Jeff would want him to be surrounded by family and Brian (Jeff's dad) promised to call him often with updates. It would be a long day, but true to his promise, Brian would call and Bryson would excuse himself to take the call. Trying to do our best as proper hosts, Charlie and I would stay on track with our guests, but always be watching Bryson. A few times Charlie would go to him, we could tell by his demeanor, slouched shoulders, pensiveness, he just needed hugs. At one point, a call came and Bryson returned smiling. Good news; a last minute specialist came in and said they did not need to remove any of Jeff's colon. The "mass" or obstruction they saw on the scan was merely some radiation burn scarring. No need for such drastic intervention. However, they did find some small tumors and were able to remove them and they left a drainage opening for any further fluid to drain. They would continue to fill him full of antibiotics and leave the opening for a day or two.

On Sunday, we went to the hospital. He was in the CCU, so his parents met us out in the hall. They were all smiles. They looked younger, rested, relieved. They hugged us and told us what we should know when we went in. Jeff is very weak, very drugged up, but very alert. He can't talk because he has a tube in, but he is breathing on his own. They let us go in to see him. When we walked into his room, his beautiful blue eyes opened wide. He looked so tiny in that bed. Tubes going in every which way. At least 9 infusions of all sorts. He lifted both hands toward Charlie and I. I took his hand and kissed it. He squeezed our hands. I told him we were all here for him and how we loved him. His eyes filled with tears. He motioned that he wanted to write a note. His dad passed a clipboard and pen. His little hand, all full of needles and tape and tubes shook as he slowly wrote:

"I've always loved you guys. I saw God. I love life. I wanted to tell you that if I am taken, I am ok. But I think I will stay."

It was everything I could do to hold it together. Charlie and I just held his hands again and he squeezed and squeezed. He put my hand up to his mouth as if to kiss it despite the tubes going in his mouth and nose. He reached up to Charlie and squeezed his shoulder as if to hug him. He placed his hand over his heart and then pointed to us. We told him how much we loved him and that he should rest and get strong so we could all go back to our beloved Hawai'i again. He nodded, then closed his eyes..pain meds kicking in.

We walked out with his dad who told us that Jeff had been writing lots of notes and making sure everyone knew how much he loved them. He also became a bit of a mother hen. He wrote: "Dad, don't leave your truck parked where it is. You'll get towed or ticketed." "Mom, go home and rest." "Did Pua get that job?" This sweet, sweet boy. So worried about everyone else instead of himself. None of this is lost on us. He is fighting for his life. He shouldn't be here. There is no reason he should have made it out of that surgery. But he did. And he would soon tell us why.

To be continued...