Jan 5, 2008


My mother passed away yesterday. She was 81, just shy of her 82nd birthday next month. Despite the success of the heart procedure performed on her on January 1st, she wasn't able to bounce back. Her heart was too weak to take advantage of the three stents the cardiologist was able to implant in the arteries around it. Insufficient blood flow to her vital organs caused multiple complications that escalated alarmingly over the following two days. She never regained full consciousness after the cardiac arrest that occurred two days prior to the procedure.

We managed to have minimal communication with her in the ICU but she was unable to speak because of the respirator tubes inserted in her mouth and nose. When we talked to her one day she indicated she could hear us by cracking her eyes open and slightly turning her head toward us. A few other times, as her condition worsened, she managed to squeeze our hands. Yesterday morning, when I talked to her she wrinkled her brow and scrunched her eyebrows, which spoke volumes to me about how she felt about her situation.

Days earlier, when she was still lucid and prior to the cardiac arrest, she was aware of the possibilities of the coming days. While she said she wanted to get better and go home to start working on her taxes and maybe even plan a trip to Atlantic City, she also said she was "ready to go" and had "had enough of this," referring to her many health problems that were increasingly making her day-to-day life miserable.

The hospital doctors made several attempts to help her, but each one had fleeting benefits or did nothing for her. Her kidneys were shot due to multiple problems, advanced diabetes among them. Dialysis was the last option that offered a slight hope for a turnaround in her deteriorating condition. But it proved to be unsuccessful.

My sister, my brother and I made the difficult decision to withdraw life support. She was slowly weaned off of the numerous IV drugs she was receiving, as well as the respirator. The respirator was finally turned off completely at 1:00 PM. At 1:05, her tired, damaged, but unshakably loving heart stopped beating.