The Passing Of Michael
2001 by Arnetta Baugh
My first grandchild, Michael, passed away around 2:00 A.M. this morning. He was only 21 years old. He suffered from Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma for over a year. At first he thought it was ulcers but when his symptoms worsened, he checked into the hospital where the doctors found a large tumor attached to his spine. The tumor was behind his stomach, crowding his lungs. Surgery wasn't an option. He underwent Chemotherapy and the tumor disappeared. But more tumors appeared, thus another round of Chemo --- and another --- and another.
He had numerous surgeries to remove tumors on his bowels, appendix and gall bladder. Three months before he died, he received a bone marrow transplant.
The week before Mike became so ill, we spoke with him on the phone at his apartment. His voice was strong and he told us he was getting married in six months. But two nights later a severe attack of diarrhea put him in the hospital.
A Social Worker called a few days later. Mike was very weak and he wanted us to visit. Memories of his earlier years flooded my thoughts as we packed our suitcases. I had watched him grow from a baby to a young man with his blonde hair and blue eyes. He lived with us when he was a little over a year old for several months. One evening we were eating sauerkraut with hotdogs. He sat in his highchair with his little fist folding and unfolding saying "gimme, gimme" and pointing at our plates. We gave him a small dish. He filled his fist with the sauerkraut and shoved it in his mouth consuming the whole serving then he looked up at us with a big smile. He hated it later in life. The summer he was twelve he spent with us in Casper. He took swimming lessons, learned Karate (getting his first two belts). We both loved swimming in the lake, visiting Fort Caspar, going to Devils' Tower. Here he spent part of his allowance buying me a pair of happy face earrings. These precious memories brought tears to my eyes.
We left Casper and headed for Salt Lake City in such a hurry I failed to get the hospital's address. When we came down Parley's Canyon and drove onto Foothill Blvd, an ambulance cut in front of us. I told my husband to follow it. It led us to University Hospital. He was in the Cancer Patients Ward in isolation. We had to wear masks in his room.
He was heavily sedated for the first two days. As I looked at him, I kept thinking of times we talked on the phone, his voice still echoing through my mind of when he said, "Hey, Gramma." We would talk his about plans to become an X-ray technician. About the courses he took to become an EMT while he was still in high school. He'd call up with his voice disguised and say he was from some insurance company and try to sell me an insurance policy or maybe he was giving away free tickets to some sports game.
On the third day of our visit, Mike was awake and we had a nice visit with him. He couldn't talk much as his mouth was full of sores. But it was encouraging to see him looking better. The next morning he became nauseated and a tube had to be put into his stomach. That afternoon we could see blood coming through the tube. This worried us, but the doctor assured us that Mike was going to recover.
The next day his fever went down and his platelet count came up. The doctors did a scope of his bowels that afternoon and the results were good: no blood was showing, so we left Salt Lake and came home to Casper.
The day after we arrived back home, the doctors ordered a CAT scan and found another tumor had developed on his spine. At this point, there was nothing more they could do for him. They gave him less than three weeks to live.
I couldn't believe he would last the three weeks the doctors had estimated. Mike wanted to go to his fiancé's home to spend his last days, so the doctors took him off most of his life support system. They left only the platelets, nutrients, and the morphine on his IV.
I phoned the afternoon
he got home and he was resting comfortably. The next day his mother informed
us he was in a coma. I knew it would be only hours before he passed away.
He died early this morning around 2:00 A.M.
|I've lived in Wyoming
for the past 26 years,
coming from Idaho
where I lived for many years.
I started writing
stories and poetry when I was in grade school, but didn't pursue it again
until the mid-eighties. I am now retired and enjoying more time for writing.
I am currently President of the WYOPoets, the Wyoming Poetry Society which
am enjoying. It helps me to continue learning new things. I enjoyed working with Richard Loller on the recent book of cat stories, "A Curiosity of Cats."
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