My husband, Robert, was a healthy 45-year-old father of 3, who served 14 years in the USAF.
My husband had everything against him from the very beginning.
“The look in his eyes told me that he feared going there, but we really had no choice.”
My husband, Robert, was a healthy 45-year-old father of 3, who served 14 years in the USAF. He was not only a very loving husband and father, but he was also my best friend, my strength, and we had made so many plans for a long, beautiful future together with our children.
In the last week in August 2021, my husband, our 2 children, and I all contracted COVID. Once we all tested positive, we immediately went into quarantine, and we were doing everything that we could to fight the virus. Luckily, our 2 children (ages 2 and 13), had extremely mild symptoms, but mom and especially dad weren’t as lucky. I fought through the virus as best as I could and was attending to our kids, as my husband was becoming increasingly lethargic and didn’t have the energy to get out of bed. He also didn’t have much of an appetite and it was all that I could do to get him to eat anything. Little did we know that he was beginning to develop pneumonia.
On September 2, 2021, my husband began to have difficulty breathing and asked me to take him to get medical help. Our first stop was to an Urgent Care Center. I was hoping that, at the very least, they could check my husband’s oxygen level. Robert sat in the car with our kids as I ran in to tell them what was going on with him and asked if they could help. Upon entering, I was immediately turned away because we were COVID positive, and I was advised to take him to the ER. When I returned to the car, I told my husband that we needed to go to the hospital because they refused to help us. The look in his eyes told me that he feared going there, but we really had no choice. I reached in and buckled my husband’s seatbelt and gave him a kiss (little did I know that would be the last time that we would share a kiss).
Once we got to the ER, I ran in to let them know what was going on with Robert, and I was instructed to grab a wheelchair from a nearby room and bring my husband in. There I was, struggling with COVID myself, and they didn’t even offer to help me get my husband. Winded, shaking, sweating, and running a fever… I pushed the wheelchair out to the car and helped him get in it, then wheeled him into the front lobby. I began answering a lot of the questions that they were asking because my husband was gasping for air at this point and was having difficulty speaking. After a few minutes, I advised the nurse that I needed to bring our children in and she immediately said that they, along with myself, would need to leave because they were going to admit my husband and we were not allowed to stay. I immediately looked at my husband with a concerned look on my face and he told me “I’ll be fine… I love you, sweetie”. As we were wearing facemasks, the only thing that we could do was hug and I told him, “I love you, too” as we embraced.
Later that evening, I received a phone call from Robert. He told me that they were
transferring him to another hospital and that he was wearing a nasal cannula and it was helping a lot and he was feeling better. The following morning, September 3, 2021, he had called me again and told me that they were giving him Melatonin to help him sleep and another drug, but he couldn’t remember the name of it. I later found out that it was Remdesivir and, based on his medical records, they had administered it to him for 5 days. We had exchanged a few text messages over the next few days, but on September 4, 2021, he told me that he was really struggling to breathe and small tasks were making him shake and cough. Robert’s doctor had called me earlier that same day to let me know that there was quite a bit of fluid in his lungs. It was painfully obvious to me why my husband was struggling to breathe… his lungs were flooded!
“There’s also NOTHING in his medical records stating that he had given consent to be put on the ventilator!”
On September 7, 2021 (5 days after he was admitted and started on Remdesivir), I received a phone call from Robert’s doctor and he stated that they need to put him on the ventilator because he was maxing out the BiPAP. I asked his doctor if my husband had consented to it and he replied with “yes”. Immediately after hanging up with Robert’s doctor, I texted him and expected a reply… a phone call… SOMETHING, but I never heard from my husband. It was heartbreaking because I KNOW that he would have contacted me because we both know how serious getting on a ventilator is and what could happen. This leads me to believe that they had already put my husband on the ventilator BEFORE his doctor had even called me! There’s also NOTHING in his medical records stating that he had given consent to be put on the ventilator!
The following day, September 8, 2021, I received another phone call from his doctor and he wanted my consent to have Robert placed on an ECMO machine because he had maxed out the ventilator and his CO2 levels were extremely high. After researching VV ECMO treatment, I knew that would be his only chance for survival, so I gave consent. He remained on the ECMO machine for 13 days and I truly believe that it had helped save my husband’s life!
Throughout his treatment, I found myself initiating the vast majority of the phone calls to the hospital. There were only a handful of times that his doctors or nurses actually called me to give me an update on Robert. Since I wasn’t allowed to visit my husband, due to the strict visitor restrictions, the only information that I had was from what they had given to me over the phone. Every day, I took notes on what I was being told about my husband’s progress and shared them with our family and friends on Facebook. I also began writing emails to my husband every day since he went on the ventilator, with high hopes that he would read them once he was in a recovery room.
Prayers to Save Him
“I prayed to God to save my husband, to restart his heart, to give him a chance to come home alive and well to me and our children.”
With the help of antibiotics and my husband’s strong will to live, he fought against bacterial pneumonia, sepsis, staph infection, UTI, and even started to regain kidney function with the help of dialysis. On a few occasions, his doctors had even discussed future recovery and rehab processes with me, performing a tracheostomy, and getting him moved out of isolation so that we can visit him. This all changed on September 29, 2021. I received a phone call that morning from his doctor and he told me that they had found an abscess on the outside of his right lung and that they were extremely concerned and needed to abstract it and send it to the lab for analysis. I was advised by both his doctor and the physician performing the procedure that it was “a routine procedure that had very few complications and that serious complications were extremely rare”. Based on the information that they provided and how they made it sound like it wasn’t too much of an invasive and risky procedure, I gave consent to proceed.
At approximately 6:00 that night, I received a phone call from the chaplain at the hospital, and she told me that my husband was in the process of receiving chest compression resuscitation because he went into cardiac arrest following the procedure. I immediately dropped to the floor in disbelief and started sobbing. She told me that someone would call me back soon. After we hung up, I prayed to God to save my husband, to restart his heart, to give him a chance to come home alive and well to me and our children! I don’t think that I’ve ever cried and pleaded with God as much as I did in that moment. About an hour later (the longest hour of my life!!), I received a call from the physician who had performed the procedure. He told me that Robert was stable and, when I asked what could have caused the cardiac arrest, he told me “I don’t know for sure”. That shocked and upset me greatly, because I put my trust in them and this procedure, and it resulted in my husband going into cardiac arrest and he didn’t know WHY?!
The following morning, on September 30, 2021, I received a call from his doctor and he told me that Robert was moved out of isolation into the ICU and we could visit him. I was on my way to pick Robert’s mom up from the airport and I told his doctor that we would be there shortly after. It was at that moment that he had mentioned something about “the needle went too deep”, but he didn’t elaborate on what that meant. All I knew was that my husband was alive, we were finally allowed to see him, and that was all that mattered at the moment!
Seeing Him in the Hospital
Upon entering Robert’s room, his mom and I noticed that he was hooked up to an EEG machine and his doctor showed up to talk with us. He, once again, mentioned something about “the needle went too deep” to both me and my mother-in-law, then mentioned that they had to put in 2 chest tubes because his lung had collapsed. He also told us that they were weaning him off of antibiotics and the sedative, so that they could evaluate his mental state, and that they were giving him hypothermia therapy since he went into cardiac arrest. He also said that the abscess that they extracted was nothing more than a few very small blood clots and he didn’t think that they would have caused him any problems. Much to our surprise, Robert did blink his eyes while we were there and even shed a few small tears as we were talking to him. With that and what his doctor stated, we were extremely optimistic that he was going to get better.
Over the following two days, we had noticed a significant change in him. On October 1, 2021, Robert was still not awake, but he was trying to open his eyes and blinked as we were talking to him. On October 2, 2021, we entered his room to find that he had his eyelids wide open and his eyes were rolled back into his head. Deeply concerned, we asked his doctor about this and he stated that it could be due to medication withdrawals.
On October 3, 2021, our hopes and dreams that Robert was improving and would be on his way to recovery came to a screeching halt. It wasn’t until this day (4 days after he went into cardiac arrest), that his doctor informed us that he was without a heartbeat for 5 MINUTES! He then stated that the MRI showed that there was no brain activity in the upper half of his brain, that he was experiencing acute ischemic strokes, as well as seizures, and that there was swelling on his brain. Needless to say, his mom and I were completely devastated and beyond shocked by the news and upset that we weren’t immediately made aware that he was without a heartbeat for 5 MINUTES!
His Last Breath
“We clutched his hands tight and broke down in tears, as he took his final breath.”
The following day, October 4, 2021, Robert’s mom and I met with his medical team and the neurologist in attendance reiterated what his doctor had told us the day before. He said that based on the MRI and EEG results, it concluded the loss of brain activity. He went on to say that Robert was in a vegetative state and that he would remain that way and quite possibly need a ventilator for the rest of his life. Knowing my husband, and my mother-in-law knowing her son, we knew that he would not want to remain in that state and he would have no quality of life. The following day, October 5, 2021, we advised his doctor that we elected to
have Robert moved to comfort care.
The next morning, on October 6, 2021, Robert’s mom and I arrived at the hospital to be with him as they took him off of the ventilator. With his mom sitting on one side of the bed and me sitting on the other, we held his hands for 2 hours as he was taking deep, labored breaths. At 1:09 PM, we clutched his hands tight and broke down in tears, as he took his final breath. He was gone. Our previously healthy, witty, funny, and extremely loving Robert was gone.
My husband had everything against him from the very beginning. From the Remdesivir flooding his lungs and destroying his kidney function to a “routine procedure” collapsing his lung, causing him to go into cardiac arrest, resulting in an anoxic brain injury. I’m now forced to live out the rest of my life, knowing deep in my soul, that my husband died from hospital protocol and iatrogenesis.