My Beautiful Boy
April second 2020, Bryan, my beautiful boy, lost his fight with addiction by an accidental overdose. I lived through those five days of him in CCU, sitting every day at his bedside, but I still have a hard time grasping that it is real. Somewhere in the back of my head I know it happened, but I won't accept all of it. If I do, I will surely fall off the face of the earth. The autopsy would determine the actual cause of death was fentanyl intoxication. I wasn't there when Bryan overdosed. I was on vacation, and I am learning to forgive myself for going and that somehow if I was home, this wouldn't have happened. On that Friday, Bryan had gone to the park with his sister, brother, sister-in-law, and his nephew. They would recall that Bryan was in a great mood, playing with Nolan and running around. They said he was happy. But that's what's hard about anxiety and depression. People can't see what's in the inside and addicts are good at hiding their addiction. They were all to go bowling that night, but at the last minute, Bryan decided to stay back at the house. He told them all to have a good time. He was going to watch TV and go to bed early. They returned three hours later. The lights were all on. They comment to each other that it was weird that Bryan had left all the lights on. Even stranger was the fact that the front door was locked. Bre went downstairs to turn off the lights and when she turned to go upstairs, she heard Justin screaming. “Call 911! Call 911!” Bryan was slumped over on his bed, face down, with one foot on the floor. He was pale and had blood coming from his nose. There was vomit on the bed where he laid. “I knew he was gone when I was pounding on his chest,” Justin would later tell me when recounting how he gave him CPR until EMS showed up. When EMS arrived, they administered two doses of Narcan. They were able to restart his heart and get a faint pulse. He was rushed to the hospital where he was put on life support. The day that Bryan was brought in, the doctor told us that in his opinion, Bryan was brain dead, but he needed to run a series of tests to confirm his prognosis. For twenty-four hours, Bryan was put into cold therapy. This would allow his brain and body to heal at a faster rate. After forty-eight hours, they began to warm him and run tests. Bryan failed the response test. This meant even though he wasn't on any pain medications, he didn't respond to pain, light, or breathing stimuli. He also failed the apnea test, which was, when taken off the ventilator, he could not breathe on his own or keep his blood pressure up. Then they performed an EGG and CAT scan. He had slight brain activity and blood flow to the brain. Unfortunately, the part of the brain that regulates breathing, swallowing, blinking, basically anything that would allow Bryan to function, was completely dead from being without oxygen too long. The part that was receiving blood flow was memory, and was nothing that would matter for Bryan to come back to us. The doctors could not legally declare him brain dead and call a time of death. Wednesday morning, Bryan's kidneys shut down, he developed pneumonia in his right lung, and he could no longer maintain oxygen saturation above eighty percent. Gift of Life deemed him unable to donate. So at 2:45 p.m., I made a phone call and as a family we decided to end Bryan's suffering. I couldn't see through the tears, and I felt suffocated with my mask on. I rip off my mask and take his limp, swollen hand and rub it all over my face. I fold down the blanket and pull his gown over to the side and place my cheek against his chest and breath him in. Under all the antiseptic hospital smells, I can recognize my child's scent. It's a strong, warm, sweet musky smell, and I inhale it as if it is a life source to me. It actually is. At three p.m., the doctor came in and explained what was going to happen. I listened to every word, nodding as she spoke, but inside I am screaming, Don't let this be happening! She turned off all medications. His vitals started slowing down within seconds. Oh God he's really dying! I laid my head on his chest to hear his heartbeat for the very last time. The respiratory doctor announced that she was turning off his ventilator. No, don't leave me! But Bryan did leave me at 3:45pm that day. Every sound, every smell, every second of that afternoon is forever etched into my memory. Goodbye, my Beautiful Boy. I love you and I'll see you when I see you.