Seventeen days ago, today, my husband of thirty years, Bennie, died during an emergency surgery that the doctors knew would kill him. I suppose it was the oath they took that compelled them to attempt to save this dying man, in spite of all odds. I’ll never know. But, I do know that what resulted from their attempt to save him was the most ghoulish, twisted, sickening mockery of life that I have ever witnessed.
Three years ago, Bennie went to the ER in extreme pain from what he thought was a kidney stone. It was then that the doctors found a serious dissection in his downward aorta. By the time it was discovered, his chances of surviving the corrective surgery hovered at the 20% mark. He told them to fuck off. That was in October of 2013. They assured him that he would not see the new year.
Bennie made it far beyond the new year before having further problems. Then, one day at work, he literally fell over from pain. He was rushed to the hospital, where he spent a month in CICU. The dissection was too large for a stint, just as it was the first time they saw it, and, again, all they could do would be to replace the artery. Again, Bennie refused. He was put on medication that the doctors felt would, at least, contain the damage.
Throughout, life was pretty good, in spite of the legal difficulties we were going through. Bennie saw the birth of his grandson and they became great friends. His career settled into a good place, and he made peace with the thing that he knew would kill him one day. Around this time, his addiction grew and his health began to fail one tiny bit at a time. During the last six months, he started losing weight, finally dropping 28lbs. He looked gaunt and unhealthy. Obama’s EPA had begun to seriously effect the oil industry in a way that had a direct effect on his job as a turnaround planner. Competition was fierce and he was not up to playing the game.
In the middle of last year, Bennie went on a job up in Montana, I believe. He had a great time and saved plenty to be able to take off all of deer season. We’d moved up here in April, so we were settled in and he enjoyed being off in the place he loved most. I noticed that he spent a lot of time sleeping. That was due, in part, to his constant pill popping. But, it did seem that there was more to it, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
When it was time to get back to work, work was scarce in a way it hadn’t been before. Ever. Money problems ensued and stress came on top of stress. It was awful. Finally, he found a turnaround back in the Galveston area that started April 7th. He packed up and went to stay at Mom’s house while he worked. He had been complaining of a pain in his side for months. It came and went, sometimes a dull pain, sometimes a sharp. We both knew what it was, but constantly danced around the truth. We decided it was a pulled muscle…a lie that we could both live with. On April 14th, he woke up to go to work at 3am. When he stood up, the pain brought him to his knees. He got dressed for work, but decided to go to the hospital, instead. He called me at six o’clock that morning complaining about the idiot doctor and that they were going to have to do another imaging to make sure that they were seeing what they thought they were seeing. I knew then that he was a dead man. I think he did, too. As soon as we hung up, I called Jay, our youngest son, and told him what was going on. He got to the hospital in a half hour.
After his arrival at the hospital, and a lot of hemhawing around, Jay was finally allowed to go back to see his dad. He had just gotten to his father’s bedside when the doctor came in. In blunt language, he told Ben he was going to die that day if he did not have the surgery. The aneurysm in his stomach had doubled in size and his entire aorta was involved, from above his heart all the way to his groin. He told him that, with the surgery, were it successful, he would more than likely be a paraplegic. The doctor told him that it would be a good idea to say goodbye to his loved ones, just in case. He couldn’t get reception on his phone, so he texted our oldest son, then, me. He instructed Jay to take care of me and the girls, (his dogs, Pepper and Jezebel). Minutes later, he was taken to surgery and I was in my truck driving as fast as I could to get there.
Bennie never woke up after surgery. He died one year, to the day, after we moved here. There is a lot more that I have to say about what went on in that room post op, but I just can’t face it right now. It was, without question, the most horrific thing I have ever witnessed. I cannot stop seeing it. It’s as though the sight has taken up physical residence in my eyes and, at times, I just want to pluck them out and stomp on them so I never have to see it again. Nobody should be put through that Frankenstein bullshit. Nobody. He died and I feel scarred for life. I don’t know how else to say it. People assure me that I’ll get over it, but I don’t think I will. It’s like when I was little and this old lady hit a Bandido on his motorcycle. As we passed, I saw blood and his intestines on the pavement where he lay. I remember every detail. And I’m sure I will remember this.
I’m going to finish up and have a drink. Whatever transpired between Bennie and I, I never wished that on him. I think people deserve to die with dignity, not as a science experiment. I am angry. I am disgusted. I am lost. I want to know more about what happened to Bennie, but I’m afraid of the answers. According to the death certificate, he died of natural causes resulting in brain death during surgery. Yet they brought him out, after closing him up eight hours into a twelve hour procedure, hooked him up to a ventilator and a heart pump and told us he was alive. My God…Oh, my God…Why would they do that to someone?