Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Visit With Rudy

Emma and I visited Rudy yesterday afternoon. It was the first time that we had gotten to see him. I was immensely reassured by how good he looked. Underneath all the tubes and wires, he still looked like the Rudy Reyes I know and love.

Since he is such a good-natured fellow, I took the opportunity to chat non-stop in his ear and tease him about the little round thing on his head. I told him that he looked like he was wearing a little girl's chapel veil. I really thought his eyes might fly open at that remark, but they didn't. However, when Rudy's buddy, Mike Stafford, talked to him, his eyelids did lift partially, two times. Mike saw it both times. Christian saw it once. Mike said that before Rudy's stroke, he and Rudy talked on the phone all the time.

I asked Christian about Rudy's breathing, the pressure on his brain, etc. He told me that Rudy is breathing on his own, but if the ventilator is removed, he may choke on his tongue. The pressure on his brain is normal. Later Margot confirmed that "Rudy is breathing 100% on his own." She also said that Thursday Rudy responded when the doctor shined a light in his eyes. This was new. He had not responded before, so he is improving.

In fact, all his vital signs are good from what we could read on the monitors, but when Margot asked the nurse for the results that she was writing in his record, the nurse refused to tell her. Obtaining the record of these vital signs is critical to preventing the hospital from removing Rudy from life support.

Although the rules state that only two visitors can see Rudy at one time, somehow a kind nurse managed to let seven of us in to pray the Rosary. We all knelt around his bed. Margot squeezed Rudy's hand throughout. We sang the Gloria Patri at the end of each decade, and I could not resist looking at Rudy's face as we did. I knew he could hear us!

I started to understand the magnitude of the problem that Margot is dealing with when Miriam Massie arrived to help Margot with legal steps to prevent the hospital from removing life support and giving Rudy morphine. Miriam's dad is an attorney, and he had written letters for Margot to submit to the ethics committee declaring her desire that Rudy not be removed from life support or given morphine or any "treatment" that would hasten his death. Apparently Texas law allows hospital ethics committees to decide the fate of a patient, even if he has expressed the desire for a different choice. Once the ethics committee makes a decision to withdraw treatment, and food and water are defined as treatment, the patient has only ten days to find an alternative hospital or care situation. Texas Right to Life says that patients often run out of time before they can secure the transfer. Memorial Hermann is trying to do this without giving Rudy the benefit of the ten days. At least that is my understanding. It is all very complicated. Miriam was also working with Margot to get a case manager assigned to Rudy. The case manager works as a liaison between the attorney and the ethics committee.

Christian looked much better yesterday than we visited him on Tuesday. He has not left the hospital since arriving Sunday night. He told us that he has made lots of friends among the staff. One of the nurses gave him a bag of homegrown fruit while we were there.

The whole Queen of Angels parish seems to be working together to help the family. It is very gratifying. Kathleen O'Neill is coordinating it all. Heather Martinez is working on getting a bank account set up for donations and a fundraiser organized. So I will get that information out as soon as I get it.

Thanks for your continued prayers for Rudy and his family.

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