When we arrived at Children’s we went right to the Cardiac ICU, thanks to Bethie’s outstanding Cardiologist who was in immediate contact with the team at the local hospital. We waited for the medflight team to rush her into the room, and she was then swarmed with doctors and nurses. We stood outside her room looking in, waiting for someone to tell us what was happening. The doctor came out and gently let us know that Bethie was in septic shock and was not likely to survive. Bethie had been DNR until weeks before this, so she carefully but quickly discussed with us what we wanted. There was no judgment, only kindness. I cannot stress enough how compassionate, intelligent, and caring Bethie’s team here in CO was. Our plan had changed, though, and we were ready to let the team fight for her. We had the promise of a better, peaceful, and joyful life for her, and we needed to see if they could save her so she could get there. There are a million more thoughts that still race through my head regarding this – this planning of Bethie’s life, this making choices for her, this deciding what was enough and what deserved pushing. But in each moment we loved her above anything else, and in each moment we were certain of our choices.
The doctor reiterated that it was likely Bethie would die, but promised us that they would do everything they could to save her. She also told us that it was very likely Bethie would go into cardiac arrest, and she promised us that if this happened, we would be able to hold her. They would not let her die on a hospital bed with them.
They saved her. A combination of medicine and miracle.
About a week later, we left the hospital with Bethie. She was not the same. She was very clearly dying and in pain (she had spent her entire life dying; it had never been this obvious), but they had saved her. This was the most challenging time of Bethie’s life. She was dying, and there was nothing we could do but wait and pray that she would make it to her surgery date. She had attacks almost daily where she would begin gasping for breath, unable to relax or breathe deeply. I would have to take her into the steam shower to calm her down. Family flew in to help me because I could not take care of both her and Freddie for these weeks. It truly would have been impossible without them. She survived, though; I imagine through God’s will and her sheer determination to give us more time.
And five weeks later, we flew with her to California. Freddie kissed her and told her good luck, and we whisked her away full of love.
We met her team, Brian showed off his masterful “Bethie hold” so they could get a good echo, and everything was set. We have videos of the surgery morning. Bethie was attempting to play with her toy, and she could only hold the string because wooden toys were too heavy for her. She was smiling and laughing; she was dying and full of love. She was perfect. She is always perfect, every step of her life and death, but we were ready for them to save her.
Her surgical team was kind. They let her stay in her jammies when they took her back so that she wouldn’t be cold, and they even remembered to return them later. She flew through her surgery – Dr. Hanley truly possesses a gift. What no one else thought they could do, he executed in mere hours. He gave her new life. She recovered incredibly well. She taught herself how to blow bubbles; she discovered her new muscles were perfect for lifting wooden toys; she learned to breathe easier. And we waited what felt like forever to take her back home. To live.
Oh, and while we were waiting, Brian, Freddie, and Papa moved us to a new home. Why live the easy life when you can live the crazy life?