Patricia Spork Update – February 24, 2020

Yesterday was a harrowing day waiting to be informed of my uncle’s passing after ventilator removed in hospital. I empathized with my cousin, the only person allowed in the room, as she watched her father’s labored breathing and eventual demise or her possibly praying for a miracle to see him breath on his own and maybe declare victory over expected outcome.

My uncle, 87, residing in New Orleans area, was taken to a hospital several days before Easter by concerned family members after his loss of appetite and not drinking liquids affected his well-being. He was diagnosed with dehydration and kidneys were beginning to fail, so he was admitted to the hospital. Family members were not allowed to stay or visit him.

I don’t know explicit details (nor does his family) about his medical care there, but he fell causing a brain bleed, had a neck injury and c-collar applied, and injured an arm in some way. And he tested positive for CoVid-19, but thankfully, his lungs were not affected by the virus.

No surgery performed, only observation and more diagnostic testing. He was alert and responsive; yet, he could only mumble in unintelligible whispers. Days later, he coded.

Life-saving treatment revived him after ten minutes. He was ventilated and unresponsive. Supposedly, doctors could not understand what caused his cardiac arrest. Family members made the decision for signed DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) in case the situation occurred again, knowing their father would not want to survive unresponsive on a ventilator.

Days later, an arm became cold and blue, requiring a vascular specialist. And the neurologist gave a poor prognosis. So, the family reluctantly made the decision to have the ventilator removed, scheduled for yesterday morning. My uncle arrived to Heaven in late afternoon, joining his big sister and little brother…my dad. They are together again. Some of his half-siblings still survive and I’m certain they, too, mourn his passing, as do we all that knew and loved him.

I do wonder if CoVid-19 will be on his death certificate as cause of death, since so many other deaths have been credited that way, even though underlying health issues may have led to actual deaths.

Personally, I feel inadequate medical care led to my uncle dying in the hospital, even though he was near the end of his life, age-wise. Yes, his kidneys had been failing when he arrived at hospital, but treatment had him improving and on the road to recovery…prior to the fall. I think if restrictions hadn’t been imposed on family members, his medical care would have been much better under their watchful eyes.

I didn’t mention earlier that the only reason one daughter was allowed in the room with him during his final hours is because she survived CoVid-19 and probably wouldn’t get the virus again. Yes, she had the virus, went through the 14-day quarantine and was laid up in bed, sick as a dog, for five days. Afterwards, she tested positive and returned to work, only to test negative again soon after; so, couldn’t return to work again until tested positive again, which did occur. Just goes to show the accuracy of the CoVid-19 testing. Not known yet if she is having to quarantine after being with her father. Hopefully, she has built up an immunity to the virus and doesn’t get sick again.

As you may know, New Orleans is a “hot spot” for CoVid-19. Thankfully, other family members there have tested negative, thus far.

Although I didn’t see my uncle very often, he was always a major part of my life. As a child, we visited his family as much as possible. My father was in the military and when on leave, we visited. Wow! What a houseful, with him, his wife and eight kids in a three bedroom, one bath brick home. And three step-children to boot, although only one usually around when we visited. The extra four of us must have been a trial for all, but all I recall is the fun I had when visiting, and always hated to leave when time to depart. One time, we lived down there in the same neighborhood for a year. Over the years, we went to several family reunions, then Katrina (hurricane) hit and delayed those for awhile. Now, none, since my aunt (my uncle’s older sister) passed. Sometimes, they came to my parent’s home when evacuating New Orleans because of hurricane warnings. During those times, if I could schedule it and felt up to the trip, I visited there. Because my mother’s and his health declined so much, we were planning a mid-way meet-up around May or so this year, since we hadn’t seen each other since around Labor Day last year, when two of his daughter’s brought him to Mom’s. Neither of them were up for the longer distance all the way to one or the other’s area this year. Sadly, that meet-up can’t be done now.

My uncle was lean, tough stock, a fair and rough disciplinarian, and a hard working man. I loved his eyes how they squinted when he gregariously smiled and laughed heartily. Although mainly of Irish descent, his high cheekbones and weathered, leathered roofer’s face reminded me of a Native American, I guess because of hours exposed to the sun over the years, tanning his skin so handsomely. If I recall, I think there is some Cherokee thrown in with the Irish genetics on that side of the family. No matter, he was a proud man and respected, maybe even feared, by those of us who knew him. He was a man that didn’t take no sh*t, but he’d help anyone he respected, if they really needed help or assistance in any way. Heck, he may even have helped someone he didn’t know or respected depending on circumstances. He loved his wife, he loved his kids…and took care of his family like a man should do in this world. He had a hard life as a child, served in the military, and was a dedicated father. I don’t know how many grandchildren or great-grandchildren he has, but guarantee it’s a boondoggle of kids. I’m sure some, if not all, will miss his smile, laughter and squinted eyes just as much as other family members will in the coming days and years.

Thank you, Uncle Jack, for funny and happy memories throughout my lifetime. Thank you for your love. You are, and will, be missed. You’re in the Good Lord’s care now, so I’m not concerned or worrying anymore about your health. Give Aunt Edna and Dad my love. You’re all missed.

Soar with angels!

Your Niece

Pat (Patricia Spork)