It started with the flu, at least that is what we thought. A week ago Saturday was the annual grandkids birthday party. Last week we found out that all of the grandkids had the flu and a week ago Tuesday we kept Ben out of school with a small fever and a cough. On Wednesday Loretta was experiencing mild symptoms. We were treating Ben with over the counter symptom relief, watching his fever, making sure he got plenty of fluids. If you have had a bout of this flu, there usually comes a point when it puts you to bed, especially if you are an adult. On the other side, fevers break, symptoms subside and eventually (maybe over weeks) you are back on your feet.
Loretta began running a high fever which we were managing. She had a cough and a lot of congestion. Really, at no point did we consider going to the doctor, as if it is a viral infection there is really nothing to do but ride it out. But Loretta’s condition did not improve. We managed the fever, but her congestion and coughing got worse. On Tuesday Loretta was in a lot of distress. By Tuesday evening she was working hard to breathe. About 9 p.m. Tuesday night we got her dressed, in the car and to the emergency room at the Riverside County Regional Medical Center in Moreno Valley. From the time we wheeled her into the ER doors it was only a matter of minutes before she was in a bed with doctors and nurses struggling to bring her back into balance. Her oxygen levels were low, they immediately but her on a ventilator. Her blood pressure was extremely low and her heart rate was rapid.
She was near death when we brought her to the ER. After about two hours of multiple intravenous medications, breathing support, and excellent work she was in critical condition but stable. Her blood chemistry was off. Her blood pressure was down (it never really recovered.) I was near her during most of this treatment and sat by her bedside when the activity had slowed down and she was being prepared for transfer to intensive care. She had been sedated for the ventilator and for installation of a central line. I prayed, and hoped.
After they moved her to the intensive care unit I was placed in the waiting room. About 4 a.m. I got my first report from the doctors treating Loretta. All of the physicians were very professional and straightforward. To all of the medical personnel, nurses, ER techs, respiratory techs, it was clear that my wife was in a life-threatening situation with a grim prognosis. Her lungs had continued filling with fluid and she was placed on an oscillating ventilator. I called Loretta’s daughter, Elaina, and told her what the doctors told me, they didn’t know if she was going to make it.
Elaina arrived with her brother, Nathan at about 7 a.m. She got in to be by her mother’s bedside a little after 8 and I came in a bit after. The doctors report was straightforward. They were doing and would continue to do all that they could do, but the situation had deteriorated to a point where a turn around was needed. She was in respiratory failure and kidney failure. They were treating her with wide spectrum antibiotics. The doctors knew that it was only a matter of time before Loretta’s heart would stop as well.
The doctors asked if we wanted her to be resuscitated if her heart stopped. Loretta was only 47 years old and as far as we know, had been healthy only ten days ago. I told the doctors I wanted them to try and so when her heart failed around 9:30, they did with full code blue response. They brought us in while they were working on her. They had been at it about 15 minutes. After a prolonged period of such efforts there is a law of diminishing returns. They asked us to decide if we wanted them to go forward. we told them they could stop. She did regain a pulse for a short period of time but when her heart failed again she was gone.
Loretta came to the ER near death and she fought along with all of the help that medicine could provide but we lost her around 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 14.