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kayc

My sister, Donna

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I have procrastinated posting about what I'm going through, I guess I've been somewhat in denial...if I post, that makes it real.  I can't deny it any longer.

50 years ago last September 17 my sisters Donna and Peggy had a horrid car accident.  Donna was 25, Peggy 23.  Peggy was driving.  It was dusk, raining, and it happened as they were cresting 30th Street Freeway in Eugene, a steep hill.  We were all coming back from Crater Lake, and our car (my parents, myself, my little sister) was about 1/2 hour behind them.  We saw there had been an accident, the cars were stopped, police lights flashing.  We thought, "Poor people", you know like you always think...and then we saw the baby's bed in the middle of the freeway with broken glass all over.  We saw Donna's crumpled blue VW wagon...my mom ran screaming out of the car, my dad had to go after her.  The policeman and him guided her back to the car.  The ambulances had already been and gone.  The police said one of them was killed, wouldn't say which one.  My parents dropped me and my little sister off at home and then headed to the hospital.  The one who died was Donna's three year old boy, Jimmy.  It killed us.  It's a moment in time I will never forget, that moment stood still for us and everything in my family's lives became a "before" or "after" from that moment on.

When I was able to see Donna in the hospital the next night, she was hooked up to tubes and machines.  So was Peggy.  Both of them in a coma.  Peggy's lasted 2 1/2 weeks and when she came out of the coma she seemed a blithering idiot.  It scared us to death, we were afraid she'd be like that the rest of her life.  But she pulled through, the only lasting damage was for a year she saw double and had to wear a patch over an eye and change eyes every few hours.  And her equilibrium was damaged, for the rest of her life she couldn't walk on uneven ground, she'd fall easily, which became more pronounced the older she got.   The baby, Mick, was kept for observation overnight but all he sustained was a tiny cut above one eye.  He was the joy in our lives, what got us through it, he was only four months old.  Donna took the brunt...she had severe brain trauma, it crushed her jaw and her pelvis, and she became quadriplegic, but the worst damage is what was done when they did the emergency tracheotomy at the scene...using the tube of a pen to open her airways, it butchered her vocal chords and trach.  It became very difficult for her to communicate and she choked easily...for the rest of her life.  Donna was in a coma for 4 1/2 months.  Night after night we'd go up to the hospital and visit her, talk to her, tell her we love her.  We had to be strong, we didn't have a choice.  When facing a tragedy like this, you just keep going, you do what you have to do.  Gone were the days I played after school sports, I was needed at home.  I was 15 when this happened.  Dating was out, gymnastics ended.  I never minded, you do what you have to do for family.  When Donna came home from the hospital, we had to literally tie her head up to the wheelchair or it would fall over, she had no strength.  We had to do speech therapy, physical therapy.  She screamed.  She wanted to die.  We kept going.  Day after day I'd come home from school and take care of my little sister Julie (six) and Micky, and Donna while my parents took a break at the tavern, their escape.  At nine they'd come home and I'd start my homework after everyone else went to bed.  Peggy was home and back working, and moved out within a few months.

When I was grown Donna went to other living situations, a nursing home (which she hated), foster care, etc., even tried a commune once until she got sick.  She tried living on her own with an aide, but when they didn't show up, that didn't work well, she was totally dependent.  Foster care worked the best.  After years and years, she finally got into a foster family home that was "home" to her, a family to her.  The day before Thanksgiving (2017) the state sent someone to come get her and move her to a nursing home.  We said "Hell no, that's not happening!"  We knew that would be the end of her.  She'd been in and out of the hospital for reoccurring bouts of Pneumonia due to her aspirating...stemming from her trach problems.  Her hospital stay in November we learned they hadn't fed her for five days!  When we confronted them, they said "We didn't know she could eat."  What??!!  This is the kind of stuff we were dealing with.  They couldn't understand Donna and ignored her caregiver.  The state removed her caregiver's license because she was taking care of her grandchildren temporarily, they threatened to kick Donna off Medicaid because we refused to let them move her away from her home.  After over a month of their not returning our calls, we finally got a different caseworker to listen to us and she allowed Donna to have in home health care, allowing her to retain her Medicaid.  Another bout of Pneumonia in December.  Then in January, again, and this time they told us she had about 24 hours to live.  They put her on hospice.  I said, "NO!  She needs and wants Palliative care!  She said she wants to live!"  She wanted antibiotics.  They finally agreed, oh my God the wheels turn slowly.  They wouldn't admit her to the hospital again but they agreed to give treatment (antibiotics).  Peggy had been in charge of handling things but she is beginning signs of dementia so I had to step in, even though I have no legal jurisdiction, and hope my voice was heard on Donna's behalf.  No time for legalities, life and death issues to be dealt with.  The "24 hours" was a week ago, Donna rallied, improved.  Then again, yesterday, we were told once more that she has 24 hours or less, and this time she is unresponsive.

Last night I hit an all-time low.  I felt severely depressed.  My sisters and I are so close, we have been all our lives.  With an alcoholic father and a mentally ill abusive mother, us girls banded together.  We've always had each other, we've weathered everything in life, broken marriages, tragedies, you name it, but we've always had each other.  When my little sister had a baby born without a brain, we were supportive.  When I have been through my calamities, my sisters were supportive.  Everything that happened in life, we were there for each other.  And now one of us is going.  The first one.  And I felt last night like I couldn't handle it.  I've already lost my husband, so many people, pets, friends, you name it, I felt ill-prepared to start losing my siblings.  My parents adopted Mick following a year's kidnapping from his birth father to a foreign country...my nephew became my brother.  No one asked Donna what she felt about it.  Mick has been distant from us girls, we felt perhaps closest to him when we were going through my mom's dementia and death, but then when that was over, he retreated back into his family again.  Perhaps it's formidable to be the only boy in a family of five girls, all so much older.  I wonder if he knows what a joy he was to us in that time fifty years ago, he was what kept us going.

It's too early to call and check on Donna right now, they get up late.  So I wait through the quiet hours, waiting to hear how she fared through the night.  Did she make it?  Is she still unresponsive?  Is she alive?  My heart cries out!  There is no resounding answer.  Grief is like that...you cry out and no answer is forthcoming.  It does what it wants.

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Kay.   I’m so very sorry for what has happened and what is happening.  You’ve done your job supporting everyone else.  Now you need support and care.  And you have all of mine Allen and Katie’s prayers even Caleb’s.  I just asked him to pray for my dear friend.  He did.  I pray Donna won’t suffer and receives the care she desires.  

I relate to everything in the family’s lives being before and after a tragedy.  

Gentle hugs and many prayers dear friend.  

Love,

Butch.  

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As Butch said Kay you have been here for us and now you need to know that we are here for you.  I am so sorry you are going through this.  Know that Donna is in my prayers and we hold you in our hearts. 

Anne

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We're all hoping and praying with you, dear Kay. Your family is our family, and I know you understand that. Holding you close in our hearts, thoughts and prayers . . . 

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KayC, Praying...  intercessory and continuing.  I will contact everyone I know to intercede.  You are a dear friend and so much of life is beyond our control.  My daily scripture reading is Job. It was my wife's favorite book as it woke her up to the truth about God and life.  Also praying the weather is merciful to you.  - <<< HUGS >>>  - Shalom

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Thank you, all of you, that means a lot to me.

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Thanks Kay for alerting us to this site.  I am one who usually does not venture from the Spouse site.  My prayers are with you and your family.

gin

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Thanks, Gin.

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Kay, I am so sorry.  I have one sister and she needs my support constantly.  I find my problems are small sometimes though and yes, I will use my mustard seed faith and pray for your family.  Like with other members, so much loss, so much hurting.  I am so sorry we all have to go through these trials in life.  I know it is part of living.  So many worries and the quotes say if you can do nothing about it, why worry.  Just words.  Empty words.  I am so sorry, again.  

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Kay,

Thinking of you today and hoping that Donna will rally again. You have all been through so much. Sending you love and strength.

Love,

Karen

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She is still with us.  I know her impending death is inevitable but she will pick the day, not doctors.  Every time they give her 24 hours left, she shows them!  She's not doing as well as she was but she's still here.

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She gets up to eat but sleeps the rest of the time.  I know it'll be any time, but she wants to pick it not let the doctors predict it, which makes me smile because that's so like her.

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Your family has had their share of tragedy also Kay, and I am so sorry.

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She's sleeping all the time and no longer eating, won't touch the Ensure (don't blame her there).  Won't be long.

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10 minutes ago, kayc said:

She's sleeping all the time and no longer eating, won't touch the Ensure (don't blame her there).  Won't be long.

We are holding you with our thoughts and prayers. 

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My sister, Donna, passed away this morning.  I don't think it's sunk in yet, I've been busy making phone calls all day.

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My dear Kay,

I am thinking of you during this most difficult time.  My prayers and thoughts are with your family. You have my number and I only wish I was not so far away or I would be there for you. 

Anne

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Kay, I only have one sister, but we do not need any more losses, any of us, please know my heart is with you.  

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Kay, I am so very sorry. Thinking of you.

Karen

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Kayc, Praying for comfort and peace. Too many deaths this week. - Shalom

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Thank you, all of you.  This is my extended family, and I appreciate your comforting thoughts and prayers.

George, I'm sorry for your recent loss as well.  It's never easy, is it.  My sister was imprisoned by her body for 50 years, I can't imagine what that's like, but she's free now, and we're told we get a new body so now she can run with the angels!  AND she gets to be with her son that she lost all those years ago in that same accident.  That is heaven enough for her.

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You continue to be in my thoughts and prayers dear Kay.  You always do so very much for others and I just want you to know that I so appreciate who you are. Thank you for caring for so many who are in grief.  Hugs to you.  Anne  

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