AJ Hein-Forever Sixteen
December 31, 2005
AJ caught a cold the last day of school, right before Thanksgiving vacation. He was looking forward to the time off and sleeping in every day. Saturday, I took him to Blockbuster and he rented two PS2 games. November 20th was like any other Sunday. My only plan was go to Target before the football game started. He seemed fine to me that day. He didn't appear distressed in any way. He informed me that his pop called in a refill for his Albuterol at the drugstore and to pick it up for him and I said "Of course". It was about 10 or 10:30 AM when I left him at home. I went to Target first because sometimes the pharmacy is busy and the wait can be awhile.
It was 45 minutes to an hour after I left home that I received two text messages to my cell, from AJ; that he needed his meds ASAP. Anxiety peeked in me a little, so I quickly go to a register to check out. That took about 5 minutes or more, walked out quickly to my car and headed for Sav On. That took 5-7 minutes drive. Walked into Sav On's pharmacy to get the Albuterol for his nebulizer and I was told that it wasn't ready. After about 5 minutes I said "Please hurry, my son really needs his meds"! I just hung up from a call from AJ with panic and fear in his voice when he said, "Please hurry"! I got more scared after that call and I said something to the pharmacist with urgency in my voice like, "My son needs his medicine now"!
Which I believe they took as me being an obnoxious customer. I thought to my self, "Read the label buddy, it's an asthma medicine, that's your clue that I need that now!" I also called his dad, who lives about 2 minutes from my apartment. I told him I think AJ's in trouble; maybe his mom could go check on him. I don't remember Jim's answer though. And then the pharmacist said to me, "There were other orders before you." I was flabbergasted because nobody else was around waiting to pick up a prescription. I was the only customer in the area. I even paid for the prescription before it was filled to get out of there as quickly as possible. It took 10 minutes before they gave me the meds. I hurried out of the store straigth to my apartment complex in 3 minutes.
As I was running from my car to my apartment, Jim called and I told him where I was and that "I can't talk right now." What I saw as I walked into my front door, was my son trying to give himself a breathing treatment with just saline. That's when I realized that he was having a severe asthma attack. I saw real fear in his eyes. I got even more scared at that point. I ripped open the Albuterol package and poured it into the vial with the saline. Twice he said to me, "I'm so scared!, I'm so scared!" I felt myself panic but I kept repeating to him, "Relax baby, it's going to be ok, breath in the meds. It's OK, it's OK."
A minute or so later, Jim's at my door. I told him to come in. He brought his stetescope and listened to AJ's lungs, (he is an EMT for 13 years) and he said that AJ sounded very tight and to call 911. If you can believe it, my panic and fear became more heightened. I used my cell to call 911 but lost connection. I used AJ's cell and got cut off as I was talking. Jim tried on his Nextel but wasn't successful either so he called his company's comm center dispatcher and he called it in as Jim was telling him over his cell.
I think the Fire Department arrived in 3-5 minutes after Jim's call to his company. I flagged them down from my sidewalk. I have to say that they didn't seem to sense the urgency and need for their assistance because that's what their body movement demonstrated. As they casually walked into my apartment,the scene is Jim trying to hold AJ up to take the Albuterol nebulizer treatment. Seconds later, AJ loses consciousness. I think to myself, "Oh my God, please don't let this be bad!" I felt sick to my stomach. Jim gaveturnover to the fire paramedics about what has transpired with AJ.
Unfortunately, long story short, mistakes were made from that point forward that may have strongly contributed to AJ not receiving oxygen to his brain for 20-30 minutes which caused him brain damage/brain death in a day. His heart stopped three times that day. They had to use the defibulator on him three times that day.
He was on life support that same afternoon. The doctors ran many tests in the five days he was in the ICU, but all he really had was a tiny spark of activity in the very deep part of his brain. Not enough to be considered "Alive". He was brain dead and it was only just a matter of time before his body soon followed.
We were approached by LifeSharing (donor organization) on the 3rd or 4th day about donating AJ's organs. Me, Jim, my other children Matt,(22) Marissa, (21) met with them on Thursday. After much talking with them, me, Jim and the kids, we all agreed that whatever is in good condition may be harvested from AJ if it would benefit others.
Signing those papers were very traumatic for all of us. It meant that he was really dead and things will continue to be more difficult and painful for a long time.
The doctor ordered and we agreed to one more brain scan on AJ, just to be sure. We didn't want to keep him on the ventilator if he had no hope of living at all. Why prolong a condition that would never result in a person being alive?
We all brokenheartly decided on November 25th to remove AJ from the ventilator. I have cried multiple times every day since it happened. I stayed next to his bed 4 out of 5 nights. Five out of five days.
It may seem macabre but we took pictures with him at his bed. We even made plaster casting of his hands, and his and my hands interwined. In a strange way, I take comfort in having these memories and things, even though he was dead.
I can go on and on but I've said enough. I miss him every day, almost every waking moment. I cry every day. He was coming into his own very well. Not only did he have good sense and a good sense of humor, but he was also good looking.
I love you AJ, I hope you felt loved as much as I loved you. I miss your smile, your hugs, your cynical sense of humor. The list can just go on and on. I was and will always be, proud to be your mom. We will all miss you and love you always.