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Jodi R

Page history last edited by Jodi 12 years, 8 months ago


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Count Down

By: Jodi Rickel



     “I'm sorry for your loss. I can see she was a very special person to you all.” Indeed she was, I thought to myself as the nurse who just spoke removed the tubes attached to my grandmother's arm. I still could not believe it as I stared at the body lying in the hospital bed. How could a person so healthy go so suddenly?


     My grandmother was German, and so are my uncle and mother. It was because my mother spoke to us in German when we were little that we always referred to my grandmother as “Omi”, which means granny in German. I do not ever refer to her in any other way, except for when I talk to people that do not know what “Omi” means.


     Omi loved the outdoors. She loved to hike, garden, camp, and go RVing. For the past couple of years I remember her driving up to Alaska to spend the summer and enjoy nature there. I also recall going hiking with her when I was nine. We went to Catalina State Park to hike the loop trail; however, we missed the turnoff at the trailhead and continued up a trail that led to Mt. Lemmon. It took me about 20 min to realize it was the wrong trail, but it took her an hour and a half to believe me. She would always say, “Oh, the trail will turn around just beyond this bend.” When we got back I was extremely exhausted, but she was fine. She was 66 years old then. Who would have thought that she would have died 4 years later?


     It had been a couple of months since I had seen her, for I had been gone the majority of my summer. When I saw her that Monday I was a little surprised. She had a cane that she used to support her, and she had a brace around her arm. The last time she was at our house she was fine, her balance was perfect, and there was no brace on her arm. She was stumbling around my house, and  wherever she went my mom or brother was helping her get there. She even had to ask me to put on her shoes and tie them for her because she was incapable of doing it herself.


     That afternoon I did not talk to her much just a, “Hey” and a, “Yes, I did get your birthday present. Thanks.” I was more focused on the computer game I was playing instead of having a conversation with her. I now regret never telling her about how great my summer was.


     We celebrated my birthday that day because I just got back from my vacation and we had not celebrated it yet. As I served the frosting layered cake my mom bought from Cosco, I noticed that Omi did not look too well. She seemed sad and depressed as she sat silently eating her slice of cake. I noticed this because she usually was always talking and smiling when she was eating cake at birthday celebrations. She was not acting like herself at all.


     When she left that night to go to a friend's house to sleep I did not hug her, I just said, “Bye, see you tomorrow.” If I would have known that that would have been the last thing I said to her that I knew she could have understood I would have said more. I would have embraced her; I would have told her how much I loved her. 


     That morning I woke up and went to church with a couple of friends and my brothers. When I got back home my dad called me to his library, and he told me that Omi was in the hospital. She had had a stroke that night. He did not know what condition she was in. This is what was told by my mother to countless of her friends of what happened that night, so I have heard it many times and now I will relate it to you:


     That night my mother got a call from Omi asking her to come to her friend's house. My mother went, and when she got there Omi told her that she had also called my uncle, Klaus, to come from Phoenix. My mom asked her why she had asked Klaus to come because it was a long drive. Omi responded, “I want to see him one last time.”


     My mom stayed with her that night, but when she woke up Omi could not move some of her limbs and trouble speaking, so my mom called the ambulance. At this point, my mom knew that Omi had had a stroke.


     At the hospital my mom, Uncle Klaus, and Tom (my grandmother's soul mate) talked to Omi and kept her company. My mom stayed with her the whole day and did not come back until 11:00 PM.


     Omi's condition was worse the next morning as she could not respond to the doctors when the talked to her. The doctors decided to take an  MRI of her brain. They found half of her brain mashed and squished. This was due to the tremendous amount of pressure in her head. When my mom called to tell us this to us, our dad told us that it could be a couple days to a month until she died. For this reason, we went to the hospital in the middle of the day to see her.


     My mom led us through multiple corridors to a waiting room. There was a fish tank on one wall that contained multiple exotic small fish. There were also magazines sitting on the tables, but they had been drawn all over, or the half of the pages had been ripped out. In conclusion, there was not much to do except sit as my mom took us into the hospital room one by one. I was the last person to go in. Omi was lying on the bed motionless. The doctors did not know if she could hear us, but we still talked to her anyways. My mom said, “Mutti, Jodi ist heir.” (Mom, Jodi is here), as I stood and stroked Omi's sweat drenched hair while I looked into her blank blue eyes that were staring off at nothing.


     Because of her worsening condition, they brought Omi to the intensive care unit. We followed the doctors as they brought her portable bed into the elevators down to the ICU. We were instructed to wait in another waiting room (this one was much nicer than the previous room), and as we waited for them to return we did the crossword puzzle in the Tucson Daily.


     When they finally returned, the doctors asked to talk to my uncle, dad, mom, and Tom. They all left, and so only the kids were left in the waiting room. I played Crazy Eights with my younger siblings to keep them out of trouble and to keep my mind off the current events.


     After about 15 minutes, my mom and dad came back. My mom explained that the only way they could save Omi was if they opened her skull up and took half of the brain out, freeze it, and wait for the pressure in Omi's head to subside. However, the surgery is very risky and even if they did that, they did not know if it would work. If it did work, Omi would not be able to move half her body and she might not be able to talk; the doctors did not know what could be affected due to the damage. Omi would not want to live like that; she would hate not being able to do anything. For these reasons my mom, uncle, and Tom decided not to do the surgery, but instead keep her on a respirator and pain medication until she could not breathe by herself anymore.


     We were then allowed to go into the ICU to see her. As I walked down the hallway of the ICU, I saw TV screens showing people's heart rate, blood pressure and other numbers that meant nothing to me. There were people strolling about, sitting at computers, or gossiping with their friends.


     I walked through the open, clear, sliding glass door into Omi's room, and I pulled back the privacy curtain in front of her bed. I heard the quiet beeping of the heart monitor, and the noise of the respirator inhaling and exhaling, much like that of Darth Vader's breathing. The TV in the corner of the room was playing The Suite Life on Deck from the Disney Channel. The back wall had a window looking out onto another part of the hospital, while the two sidewalls were covered with cabinets. There was a desk with a computer on top of it in one of the corners of the room. The computer was on a login page for the hospital records. In the center of the room, Omi was lying on the portable hospital bed. There were multiple tubes leading from her arms to different machines circling around the head of the bed.


     I had trouble looking at Omi. It was hard to just stand there and watch her while knowing she would die soon. Every time I looked directly at her pale face, my eyes would start to water and my vision would blur. My left sleeve of my shirt was damp after I dried my eyes on it multiple times. I felt helpless. I thought about how I never got to say a proper goodbye, how I so wanted Omi to just wake up and say, “Why is everyone crying? I'm fine!” However, nothing I could do would stop her from death. In a way she was already half-dead because half of her brain was gone.


     It was eight o' clock; we were all tired, for we had been at the hospital for six hours. My mom decided it was time we left and went to bed, but we came back the next morning to see Omi again. Again, we waited in the waiting room until we could go into the hospital room. It was taking forever, and I felt like I had to do something. It was just too painful for me to sit there and do nothing when I knew my grandmother was dying. I had to keep my mind off what was going on, so I resorted to doing a crossword puzzle in the newspaper once again.


     My mom finally came out of the ICU and announced that they had taken the respirator off Omi to see if she could breathe by herself. To determine this they had just held up a white tissue under her nose. (I soon later found out that this is actually a somewhat accurate test because a person will usually give a reaction if a tissue is tickling their nose.) The nurse told her that they could not do anything more except let her heart slow down until it died out.


     My mom gathered all of us and led us to Omi's room. The TV in the corner of the room was now showing pictures of beaches and sunsets. I could faintly hear some relaxing music coming from the small grey speaker hanging from the bottom of the TV. Omi's eyes had been opened, and some of the tubes on her arms were removed. The monitor in another corner of the room showed Omi's heart rate slowing down. On her bed there was a blue box of tissue; I took about five and stuffed all but one into my pocket. I knew I would need them for later.


     It was a very sad moment for all of my family to just stand there and watch my grandmother die. We could not have done anything that could have saved her and made her happy. Omi had gone to multiple doctors before the stroke, and all of them said that she had Carpal tunnel. They did not even think it was a stroke. The morning of the stroke she was scheduled for an MRI. It would have told us what was wrong with her, but time was not on her side.


     It was July 28th, 2010 when she passed away. No one knew it was coming. All of the people at the memorial said that she would be last person they thought would have died so soon. Most of them even said that she was more active than any of them, for they would always see her early in the morning taking a walk while they watched TV.


     Death can come to anyone at anytime. The night she came over before the stroke, my mind did not even think about her dying. I wished I had, because now I still feel a lot of regret for not talking with her more. I could have made her have a happier picture of me when she died. If only if I had known, then I would have cherished the last moments I had with her when she could still understand and talk with me.











Works Cited

Digital image. Unbroken Properties. UnbrokenProperties.com. Web. 13 Sept. 2010. <http://www.unbrokenproperties.com/charlestown/>.


             Plant, Robert. "Stairway to Heaven." By Jimmy Page. Stairway to Heaven. Led Zeppelin. Flying Nun, 1994. MP3. 





Comments (5)

Cwatters said

at 9:56 am on Sep 10, 2010

Though it feels funny to write this, I do love your story. Not because of the subject, but because of the way you've written it. I feel like I'm actually there, through the monotony of the waiting room and the tragedy of her death. You only have a few little errors, mostly to do with an extra space between the word and the punctuation. Other than that, no complaints and I am touched by everything here. I'm sorry for your loss, and I wish I could've known Omi too. (:

Sierra Decker said

at 5:37 pm on Sep 20, 2010

I agree with Charlotte in that the story, while not a pleasant topic to read about, was amazingly well written. I loved your word choice and the way you described the event without rushing the plot.

clee said

at 2:21 pm on Sep 21, 2010

I agree with both Charlotte and Sierra. I did not love the story because of the topic, but because of the way you wrote it with your heart. It really made me feel all of your emotions, and honestly, I got teary reading this. I have always said that I would never be scared of death, which I'm not, but thanks to your story, I now know that death isn't a scary thing, but rather, a very heartbreaking and emotionally painful experience. Your story really made me feel sad thinking about the fact that nothing is permanent in this world. Your story made me learn to make the best of life so that I don't have to live with any regrets.

I'm really sorry for your loss, and I hope that you won't be too hard on yourself and always look back on the amazing times you've had with Omi. Stay strong JRickel(: Love ya girl<3

cbakarich said

at 7:11 pm on Sep 21, 2010

I'm so sorry :( losing someone close to you is always the worst thing in the world. You portrayed it perfectly. The amount of details you included makes the reader want to cry too :( u did an awsome job on this Jojo! The topic is just horribly sad.

jsayles said

at 10:32 am on Sep 22, 2010

That was a amazing and yet sad story, I like your detail and I could not find any major, or even any mistakes. Your picture was great for basically summarizing your whole story. The video is not showing up on my computer but I'm sure it would also be amazing. I also agree with charlie you did a great job. :)

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