Monday, May 30, 2005

Walter

As a young child, Walter seemed a little withdrawn, but was OK, overall.

He stood on the long road. He didn't know where he came from, but could see the long road ahead. He feared the travel, but didn't really know why.

Unfortunately, soon after getting his new bike for his seventh birthday, he had an accident. Despite repeated entreaties and even threats from his mother, he wasn't wearing his helmet.

Without conscious will, he moved toward the edge. Alarmed, he tried to stop. As abruptly as he started, he stopped.

He continued in school, but was not able to keep up with his age group. He slowly fell behind.

The edge would, without warning, occasionally creep closer. Perhaps there was something good there. He began to focus more on the edge, and less on his surroundings.

Autism, mental retardation. Living inside his own world. Wasn't so bad most of the time. Wasn't hurt by the death of his parents when he was 17, although his sisters weren't prepared for the difficulties of his care.

He was unable to see over the edge, but had, by now, become convinced there was something desirable there.

He lived in a home where people were nice to him. He didn't like the drugs, they made him sleepy. One made it very difficult to swallow.

Sometimes it was foggy here and he couldn't see the edge, but always knew where it was.

He couldn't swallow regular foods very well, but still loved them. Especially the sweets. Things just weren't as good pureed.

It's OK that no one else is here. There's the edge.

One day, the others in the house baked cookies. They left the cookies on a rack on the counter to cool.

He can almost see over the edge, but it hasn't become closer in a long time.

Unwatched, he found the cookies. Oh, joy, he ate and ate and ate.

Now the edge began to approach quickly. Or was he moving towards it?

Unable to swallow properly, he aspirated a large cookie bolus. He fell to the floor, alerting the house staff.

Wow, it is pretty here.

His chest heaved mightily, but was unable to bring in sweet, life-sustaining breath. Inside his lungs, the negative inspiratory pressure pulled fluid into the alveoli. Massive negative pressure pulmonary edema. Now, anoxic encephalopathy.

At the edge, he began to fall.

Flaccid, unconscious. Hypotensive. Minimal ventilatory capacity.

Floating, falling, he could no longer see the road he had been on.

Removing life-sustaining measures. Becoming hypoxic and increasingly hypotensive.

Who is crying? Is there someone here?

Funeral arrangements.

Gone