Chapter Fifteen: A Down and Up Summer

The summer of 2014 rolled in, and so did Midge and Bob. They were now approaching their nineties and decided to fly up this year. We picked them up at Bradley Airport in Hartford. On their first day we went to the Ice Cream Man in Cambridge, New York. Both Midge and Allison fell down. Allison seemed unhurt but Midge had quite a bruise. She refused to go to a hospital and soldiered on for the rest of the week. Midge was obviously in pain, but didn’t complain. We didn’t do as much running around as in the past, choosing to relax at the Jiminy Peak resort where Bob and Midge stayed. Allison had a ball going in their pool and hot tub. When they went home, I knew that this would be their last visit.

Allison had so enjoyed seeing Kenny Rogers at Indian ranch the previous summer. In July she asked if we could go again this summer. Kenny was not performing there this year, but the Beach Boys were. Allison loved the Beach Boys and I purchased tickets for their show the week of her birthday.

By mid July Allison wasn’t feeling well at all. She was complaining of throat pain and had difficulty breathing. She accidently pulled out her feeding tube and I called Albany Gastroenterologists to see if we should go there. They said to take her to an emergency room right away. They said that the tube tract closes in about two hours making an easy reinsertion more problematic.  We arrived at the ER in less than twenty five minutes and saw the triage nurse right away. We then sat in the waiting room for five hours. When we finally got in the back, the doctor was unable to put in a new tube. The tract had closed. They told us that we had an appointment with a gastroenterologist for the next morning. We were told to call the office at 8:00. The next morning when I called they said that they had never heard of us and could not see Allison. I called Berkshire Med who said to bring Allison right over. Their radiology special procedure team put in a new tube. The doctor gave me his card and said to call anytime that we needed him.

Walking Allison to the car became a big problem.  We had many steps and a rough terrain which did not accommodate her wheelchair. Her transport chair awaited her in the car, but she had to get there from the house.  I would literally have to carry her and now being a senior citizen myself this was not an easy task. I called several contractors and medical supply companies to see about installing wheelchair ramps. Their prices were prohibitive. Finally I discovered  and found the solution. After I had installed the ramps Allison started walking better.

In early August Allison was still having problems with her throat.  On the second Wednesday of the month her neck and face swelled up to twice its normal size. I called Dr. Leonidas who said to take her to Albany Med. When we got to the ER we did not wait. Within an hour Allison was being whisked into surgery to remove a growth that had developed under her tongue. When she came out of surgery I could not recognize her. She was on a ventilator and swathed in bandages. She was placed in the intensive care unit. For the first time I truly felt that I might lose her. I called Rob who came up on Friday. On Saturday she was taken off the ventilator but was still unresponsive. We sat with her all day and waited for any signs of hope. We had brought in her Dynavox (talking machine) and a couple of her stuffed cows with the hope that something from home might stimulate her. As we got ready to leave that night she shakily pressed a button on her Dynavox and the machine said “I love you.”

On Sunday she was moved out of ICU. She didn’t have the strength to sit up and could not talk. The ensuing days brought little progress and I worried how I could care for her at home. On Thursday she told a nurse that she had to go home because she was going to a Beach Boys concert on Sunday. She was released on Friday. I called Rob and told him that we would see him at Indian Ranch on Sunday.

We did indeed go to the concert on Sunday. It seems that we didn’t have the greatest luck at Indian Ranch. We were barred from entering because of Allison’s feeding tube bag. The teenage security guard said that only water bottles were allowed in and that Allison could not enter with the feeding tube. I thought that Rob was going to deck him. A more senior employee came over, apologized, and showed us to our seats. Allison really enjoyed the show.