Monday, we had a family meeting to address the next steps. The doctor has seen no improvements in the two weeks since Brad arrived here, and the likelihood of him ever being able to live on his own without 24/7 assistance is next to zero. Life for Brad would be in some kind of a nursing home facility. There's no quality in that and he would never want that kind of existence (I couldn't let that happen either). It was up to me to make a very difficult decision, one of the hardest ever in my life. I chose comfort care, which will honor his wishes and avail him a dignified end. We agreed to have all medications stopped and feeding tube turned off with the exception of pain medications as needed. Now it's just a matter of time. His parents and brother (and wife) will arrive in Denver on Wednesday to be with us.
On another sad note, our female Weimariner, Mia suffered a GDV - gastric dilatation volvulus - a condition afflicting large dogs, especially those with large chests – an accumulation of gas in the stomach and a malpositioning of the stomach with obstruction, basically, her stomach turned over on itself creating a knot that bloated her stomach. Although surgery was an option, they gave a 25% recovery, so I chose to end her suffering rather than put her through the trauma of surgery. She passed away Sunday afternoon. I guess she's going to be Brad's spirit guide - what a beautiful angel she is. They'll soon be together.
The only thing I'm able to do is think about one day at a time. It's getting harder and harder to get out of bed to face the day, and I wouldn't if I didn’t have the love and support of Susie and David (sister and brother-in-law).
In moments of clarity, I reflect on all that's happened in these past twelve months. Last October, I thought my life with Brad was over. I held onto hope that Brad would recover, and focused each and every day on helping him make that happen. What a journey it has been; four months in Miami where Brad went from clinging to life to propelling himself in a wheelchair up and down the hallway. Another three months in Helena where Brad was getting rehab services and could play poker, dominoes, and electronic games on a tablet. In May, after having a seizure, Brad spent some time in the local VA hospital where again he began to show progress and was recommended and accepted to the VA in Denver for advanced rehab services. So, from June to early July, Brad worked at PT, OT and Speech until he reached a plateau. The VA enabled him to move to the Community Living Center at the facility in downtown Denver where he stayed until his surgery. While at the CLC, Brad and I spent a lot of quality time together. We'd go out for walks, sit in the park, go for coffee, have a bite to eat at one of the local restaurants nearby and just lay in his bed and watch TV. Brad was beginning to be more expressive, despite of the aphasia; he understood subtle humor and would laugh aloud. He got really adept at answering the phone - I'd call him often, especially when I wasn't able to get to Denver to see him. Sometimes he sounded just the old Brad - voice clear and strong. I'd tell him about my day, and he'd let me know what he was doing too (much of which I couldn’t understand, but he said what he said with inflection). He would tell me he loved me. Often I would leave for the evening and feel so much love for Brad and for all that we had shared that day, I was giddy.
The whole time Brad was at the CLC, I was busy making a home for us. Through Brad's VA benefits we were able to secure a VA loan and purchased a beautiful home in Longmont, near my sister. The home needed some modifications, but was nearly move-in ready. Along the way, we decided to make more modifications to make it even more accessible. It was coming along nicely as the plan was for the house to be ready soon after Brad had the surgery. I wasn't prepared for the turn of events, and felt as if the rug had been pulled out from under my feet and shattered my heart.
While it has been anything but easy, I continue to seek strength and courage from my Lord and Savior. I continue to pray for Brad and a painless passing. And I give thanks every day for all the blessings, love and guidance. I am grateful to feel the love and support for us from across the globe. I know that I am not alone in my grief, as Brad has touched so many people who love him and will mourn his passing.
I know we have not been on this journey alone, for I've invited you all to be a part of it. One never knows what's in store, and the best we can do is live each and every day as if it could be our last. I believe Brad knew this, and that's why he loved life and told me every day that he loved me.
As I sit with him holding his hand, I will try to remember only the beautiful memories that we shared and to reassure him. I'll be alright. And that it's going to be okay - Mia is there to guide him.
Blessing to you all. Your love and prayers have lifted us up, and will sustain me through this new chapter in the circle of life.
Nina and Brad
Max and Mia