I haven’t said too much about my husband, Richard, up to this point. Mainly because Janet has had a hard time dealing with how he died – and how she was powerless to help or rescue him in time. Perhaps it is time to begin to tell his story. Starting from the end.
Richard was home with caregivers during the two months I was in the hospital and rehabs from my broken leg. Janet was literally torn between my needs and his as she ran back and forth across San Antonio, between us.
Just before I broke my leg, though, Richard woke up with a start from napping. He got up, and came over to where I was sitting. He was all smiles, and excited as a young boy.
“Ann. My mother just called me.”
“What do you mean, Richard?”
“My mother just called, and told me it’s time for me to come home. I thought I’d never hear from her, again – but she just called. Isn’t that wonderful? I’m going home,” he said.
“Yes. That is wonderful,” I said. He bent over, and gave me a big, happy hug.
I couldn’t help but wonder if his time here on earth was about to end. As it turned out, that day was only two months away.
Richard was not in the best hands with his caregivers, and he was physically and mentally going downhill at a rapid pace.
Janet and I talked about finding a memory care facility for him. She took him to visit a couple of really nice places. He liked one of them, but said he did not want to go.
His dementia had escalated to the point where he thought he wanted to move all by himself to Tennessee. He packed up boxes all over the house. And thought he could take them all on a bus ride to Tennessee, and get off on Main Street. He found two small towns on the atlas that bordered a river, and decided either town would be a good place to go for fishing. But beyond that, he had no plan. It was all wishful thinking.
His caregiver brought him to visit me in the rehab where I was. He told me over and over how much he loved me. He kissed my hand and my cheek. When he left, I told Janet, “I’ll never see him again.”
“Oh, Mom. Yes you will.”
“No. The next time I see him will be in a casket.” And I cried.
I saw him about a month later . . . in a casket. Just like I said.
He died about two hours before I was released to go home. I was in the ER getting treatment for a urinary tract infection, just after having been sedated heavily with Seroquel at the rehab.
I didn’t know he had died for three more days, as Janet waited to tell me when I was mentally more able to handle it. So for a couple of days, I thought he was still very ill in a hospital somewhere.
He was very ill, alright, because the hospital behavioral unit he was at allowed him starve to death during the nine days they had him on an extended emergency detainment order.
Janet didn’t know that detail, either. She didn’t realize they were letting him starve to death until it was too late. And worse, he was there on a court order, which Janet had no power to remove him from.
Richard had been with one of his caregivers, coming back from Walmart, the day he was taken to the hospital in handcuffs.
They were at a stoplight in heavy traffic. Richard said to his caregiver,
“I need to go to the bank and get some money for my move to Tennessee. I know you can’t take me there. So I’m going on foot.”
With that, Richard departed the caregiver’s car, and set out to cross the busy divided highway. His caregiver was in a catch-22 situation. He was in a long line of traffic, and couldn’t move.
Richard was dodging cars on the highway, nearly being hit at least three times.
But he made it across.
He ran (yes, ran) toward his bank, about a block away. But he stumbled, and fell. His caregiver had finally caught up with him, but Richard refused to get in the car. He got up, and ran further, then fell again just outside a department store. His caregiver had phoned the police for assistance, and they caught up with him in front of the store.
Richard fought them as they attempted to take hold of his arm to guide him to the caregivers car.
They soon lost patience with his agitation, and handcuffed him, then maneuvered him into the backseat of the squad car.
His caregiver called Janet. She left work, and headed for the ER. But she was told she couldn’t see him because he was presently a danger to himself and others. In fact, she wasn’t allowed to see him until the next day at the hospital behavioral unit he was transferred to.
Before seeing Richard, she was escorted to the medical director’s office for consultation.
The medical director was a psychiatrist who would be managing his care. She explained to Janet that Richard had been placed there on an emergency detainment order for three days, but she expected she would opt to have that extended because three days would not likely be enough time.
Visiting hours would be for one hour, once a day – which happened to be during Janet’s work schedule. And the hospital was 45 minutes away from where she worked, which would mean a 90-minute round trip, not accounting for visit time. So she was only able to physically visit a couple of times. But she talked with his doctor every day.
The doctor assured Janet that Richard would be well taken care of.
She explained that he needed some type of medication for his dementia, and she’d be trying different ones to find out which worked best. Janet didn’t have a clue about “dementia medication” at this point in time. She only began learning after Richards death. The so-called “dementia medication” was antipsychotic drugs, she later learned – which are not supposed to be used for dementia at all.
Janet was not allowed to go to Richards room. She had to wait in a community room until Richard was brought to her, laying motionless on a wheeled bed.
He could barely talk. And couldn’t move at all. It was as if he was paralyzed. The nurse explained he had been sedated because he had been violent.
The only thing Richard said was, “Looks like I ended up on the wrong side of the fence.”
He had great difficulty saying that much. And he said no more. Just stared blankly at the ceiling. She stood there with him, and held his hand. But didn’t know what to do, what comforting words to say to him.
After about fifteen minutes the nurse returned, and said he needed to be taken back to his room. Janet was again escorted to the medical director’s office.
“Don’t worry too much about what you saw with Richard today. He’s fine. We had to sedate him rather heavily due to his combativeness. But he’ll settle down in a day or so. Then we can use less sedation,” the director said.
As Janet left the hospital, she received a phone call from the rehab I was in, all the way on the other side of San Antonio. She was told she needed to get there because I was acting out. I’ll leave my saga for another story – but things were very bad for me, and Janet had 98% of her attention focused on me for that reason.
The medical director where Richard was located assured Janet she would take good care of him, and that Janet should focus on me.
Janet got a call from Richard’s doctor about four days later. Apparently he was not eating. He would drink a little, but refused solid food. Janet knew of one other time he had been sedated like that. And it caused him to temporarily lose his ability to swallow. So she shared that with the doctor.
“We’ll keep an eye on him. I think he’ll be fine. But if he doesn’t start eating in the next day or so, I’ll back down the sedation, and see if that helps. But don’t worry. I’m taking good care of him,” the doctor said.
Two days later, he still was not eating, and now stopped drinking.
Janet asked if they could give him IV fluid, at least. Something. The doctor said he’d have to be on the hospital side for that – and that wouldn’t work because he has to be in the behavioral unit to receive the psychiatric drugs, and was too violent to go without sedation. She told Janet she’d back off the daytime sedation to see if that helps.
The next day, even with no daytime meds, Richard was not eating or drinking. But there was more bad news. The doctor told Janet she was sorry to say that his organs were nearly shutdown from lack of nutrition. And that he was not going to survive more than a few days. She recommended moving him to a nursing home for hospice care. She would be willing to release him even with the detainment order still in effect.
Janet found a nursing home to take him. She discussed the idea of nursing him back to health there, an idea they thought might be feasible.
Needless to say, Janet was livid with the doctor for her so-called good care. Basically she had been killing him with drugs to the point he could no longer swallow. He was literally starving to death.
Richard was transferred to the nursing home. The staff there offered him some Ensure right away.
He drank nearly the whole bottle. So much for the “refusing nutrition” lie the psychiatric doctor had repeatedly told.
The nursing home called Janet to report that he was indeed hungry, and eager to drink the Ensure. But. It was too little. And too late.
Very sadly, they called her again, an hour later, to let her know he had died.
Janet was with me at another hospital ER across town, and couldn’t even leave to go to his bedside. She phoned his favorite caregiver, though, and asked if he could sit with him. That caregiver sat with him, even several hours after he died.
The caregiver told Janet that after Richard drank the Ensure, he lay quietly looking around the room. Then he closed his eyes, and went to sleep. Yet he was not sleeping. When the nurse came to check on him, he had passed away. That was the only positive part of the whole ordeal – his passing was so gentle, he was thought to be only sleeping.
Below is a video of Richard during our last Christmas together. He was not a violent man like that murderous doctor claimed. He was soft spoken and peaceful.
Yet he was [legally] euthanized for noncompliance – via antipsychotic drugs and starvation.
Interestingly, Richard and I were both done in by doctors – each of us dying nine days after our final hospital admission.
Thankfully both of us now at peace and refreshed in heaven.