Sunday, April 12, 2009

self-blame

I haven't written much as of late as I've been thinking and analyzing my thoughts. I am looking for my direction and searching for some answers. Some of the answers that I have received lately have been hard and reopened wounds that I thought were at least scabbed over.
One of these wound opening moments has been a call from the coroner. It has taken over a year for the pathologist to find/finish Jeff's autopsy report. We've known from days after Jeff's death that he died of a pulmonary embolism. I've wanted to know where the PE came from as I had noticed hot, hard, red lumps on the inside of his knees weeks before. He had refused to go to the doctor about it. When they started to go away, he was sure that he had been right that they were nothing. Unfortunately, I will never know where the PE came from for sure. They didn't look at his legs. What they could tell me was that he had significant artherosclerosis and an enlarged heart. I've now spent hours pouring over medical sites, books around the house and questioning any medical personnel I can trying to decifer whether these new ailments would have contributed to the pulmonary embolism, how/why his heart was enlarged and what symptoms I should have caught. I don't understand how he could have normal blood pressure and cholesterol and still have these issues. These new developments have renewed my anger with him. I am so disappointed and furious that bags of chips and watching movies seem to have been more important than taking care of his body to ensure he was here with all of us for a long time. I know that this overly simplifies his lifestyle and that this is endemic in the fishing industry and lifestyle while aboard the boat. But it is maddening nonetheless.
It also restores my disappointment with myself and the worry that I let him and his family down by not managing to get him to the doctor earlier and not insisting harder. This was no easy feat, I realize. In fact, he once threatened to leave me when I forced him to go to the emergency room after he had passed out, was short of breath and his nose was turning blue. But if I had known that this would be 'it', I would have endured his fury and fear millions of times over.
I feel blame, not from anyone else, but from myself, for all the tender moments his children have lost that they should have had with their daddy as they grow older. For the laughter that his family should have shared with their brother/son/cousin. For the jokes that his close friends have lost. For the stories that he loved to share with anyone he met. For the tenderness and love that I will never have from him again.
I am so very angry with him. But the largest flame of fury that I carry is for myself. Why didn't I do something sooner? Why didn't I know? Why didn't I insist that he go to the hospital the night before, instead of the doctor's office in the morning even though he was stubbornly opposed to it? Why didn't I force him to eat healthier? Why didn't I beg him harder to join the kids and I on walks and swimming?
I want to turn back time. I want to change it all. I want to hold him again. I want to watch him play with his kiddos again. I want to hear him laugh again. I want to feel his large presence again. I want him home. I want to be 'us' again....not me alone. I want him back. I feel that it is my fault that I lost him.

9 comments:

Shannon said...

Those feelings hit home. I lost my father and had a very hard time dealing with guilt. I asked him to go to a hospital, but I didn't beg. I didn't cry. I didn't scream.

And, he DID go to a lame doc-in-a-box clinic...who ran an EKG and sent him on his merry way with a beta blocker. He was dead 6 hours later.

I'm not sure it really mattered. He honored my request to see a Dr. and I honored his wishes to stay out of an ER.

I enjoy your blog very much & hope you and family continue to heal.

jlonglai said...

Thank you for sharing this feeling. I feel the same way from time to time with my overweight father. Like why he doesn't give a fuck about us and is only worried when his next butter/beer and cigar fix is coming. Thank you for being so honest and sharing this feelings. I've been following your blog for a year now and my heart goes out to you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing - you cannot blame yourself; I know playing the 'what if' game feels like torture. I cannot imagine the road you are walking, but I know that you cannot blame yourself for not knowing what the future would hold. :hugs:

Jenny said...

I'm so sorry you're being tortured by these "if only" feelings. I lost my husband unexpectedly to a heart arrythmia, and when those "why didn't I..." thoughts surface, I remind myself that he was a stubborn, independent, go-his-own-way man. I loved him for his independence -- wouldn't have wanted him any other way. As it turns out, I only got him for 7 years, but he wouldn't have been HIM if he had let the paramedics take him to the clinic when he passed out in Mexico a week before his death, or gone to the cardiologist rather than a new GP the day he died. Of course, all this doesn't mean I'm not TOTALLY PISSED OFF at him for leaving me, and leaving his 8-year-old son and our 21-month-old daughter.

Robin Stewart said...

As Oprah would say "you did the best with what you knew" this goes for you and Jeff. You are not doctors or nurses. Your feelings are so valid and I would be doing the same. What advice would you give to someone else in your position?

Poppy and Mei said...

Just...XXxx

Roads said...

Painful thoughts. But they're not true. And anyway, life's hard enough without beating yourself up. Good to get this down, though, so you can toss it all away for good.

Spirits up.

Robin Stewart said...

Jackie,

I have been doing some thinking about your post. Over Easter dinner we were thinking about you guys and the near loss of Nathan's mum 7 years ago due to multiple PE's. I know that his mum was diagnosed after the fact with having a genetic clotting disorder. I am not sure if this was something done during Jeff autopsy or not. Either way it might be worth getting the kids screened in the future. All of Nathans siblings were tested and 3/4 of them had the clotting factor, Factor V Leiden. And all of Nathans mum's siblings had it. They were advised in many ways and things to avoid...long flights, birth control pills, smoking, diet, precaution in pregnancy etc. Some of them were advised to take warfrin and others just a baby aspirin a day. They also checked for homocyteine levels. The docs ordered on a recommendation from the internal med doc. If you want anymore info about what was ordered let me know.

Robin

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