by Gayle V
It was November 22nd year 2000. I was inside the house and could see my husband out on the patio trying to erect a wind barrier so that the new monkey we had recently acquired would have a windbreak from the cold winds that had been forecast for our area.
Now , our area is far from being temperate...it is more tropical or subtropical, but an unusual air stream was forcing a cold spell upon us. I was inside the house watching the weather channel and getting my black cap capuchin settled inside. I had not yet locked the door to her cage when I heard a clatter of tools out in the patio. Annoyed by the sound I approached the door and impatiently hollered ..."now what have you done". No answer came so I proceeded to open the door and stick my head out so that I could see what was going on. "Oh my God honey, are you alright?". "Yes", my husband replied. "Are you in pain?". "No", was the answer as he was struggling to get up. "NO, don't move", I yelled. Blood was now oozing from my husbands head and I knew I had to get to a phone yet I could not leave him unattended lest he fall again and the pool was just to close for comfort.
Al!!!!!!!! Al!!!!!!!!! I screamed. Al was our handyman and was working around the front of the house. How he ever heard me was beyond me. Guardedly he approached, not really wanting to see but forcing himself to come to my aid because he could see that I was frantic. After instructing Al to stay by my husband and not to let him up...I ran for a phone and dialed 911. What should have seemed like hours, seemed like seconds as I hung up the phone and heard the sirens off in the distance. The hours seemed to fly by in the emergency department and John seemed to be deteriorating by the minute. Now he was unconscious and thrashing about. He had two skull fractures, his brain was swelling and we expected him to start seizure anytime. He kept screaming...."The pain....the pain" Then that awful scream sprang from his contorted mouth signaling a seizure was forthcoming. This was followed by a grand mal unlike any I had ever seen in my 42 years as a registered nurse. Then he went into respiratory arrest and was put on a respirator which he promptly pulled out. Again and again my husband was intubated, until I said "NO MORE! Can't you see that he doesn't want it in?". That was the beginning of John's struggle between life & death.
Weeks flew by, John showed no improvement. Depression, the Doctors told me, would set in and it would be best to put my husband in a nursing home. I used every scheme I could think of to keep my husband in the acute care hospital because I would not agree to a nursing home. Finally the day arrived when I was forced to either take John home or submit nursing home papers....so I brought my husband home. Every one thought I was crazy and said that it would kill me. Yes, it was hard. Day after day he would lay in bed, not eat or drink (he had lost 40 pounds). He would threaten to hurt me and told me to stay away. I had lost all hope until one morning I came in after feeding Cookie & CoCo out in the back cage to find Frannie, our newly acquired black cap capuchin loose in the patio. "Oh my God, now what?" I thought. Frannie hated me. She needed no provocation to attack. She had bonded with John from day one and now she was looking for him. A mad dash across the patio brought me safely into the house. But what about Frannie??? I couldn't leave her there, I couldn't call any one in to help because I was afraid that if she bit someone, John would lose her for sure. Only one thing to do, with purpose in my stride and authority in my voice, I went to John's bedroom door and sternly said "Honey you have to help me, Frannie is loose on the patio.". "Oh my God", he yelled and with that the blankets flew back, the feet swept out onto the floor, pants went on, socks went on and he grabbed his walker and headed down the hall towards the patio. He was weak, but his strength would not fail him, he loved Frannie too much.
Almost falling down the one step leading to the patio, John placed his walker aside and called to Frannie. She came bounding towards him scrambling up his legs . He was crying, she was crying (it had been a month that she had seen her Daddy) A chair was quickly placed within John's reach as he held Frannie. Exhausted and drained physically, John sat down and fell asleep holding Frannie in his arms. She stayed with him until he woke up and he was able to put her safely in her cage.
Frannie was John's angel. She brought him back to the life he loved so much. It was many weeks and indeed months, before John fully recovered. And as for me, I don't think I'll ever recover...a miracle happened here and it changed my life forever.
Remember earlier in my story where I said I had not yet locked my little Candilou's cage? Well, when I got home in the early hours of the morning, almost 14 hours later, I found my little girl asleep on my pillow in our bedroom. She had touched nothing but she did take her diaper off and left me a little present. LOL