As many people in our lives are already aware and have been following & praying for, 2 weeks ago today on 2/3/17 my father in law Willis Jackson was taken into the ER via ambulance after suffering unexpected complications from his body’s reaction to a common virus. Our world has been flipped upside down and we have been on an emotional rollercoaster through this incredibly unexpected situation. The 1st prognosis was fairly bleak when the doctor’s initially completed emergency surgery that evening after he had been admitted and we learned his body had begun to go septic due to a leak in his bowel as a result of undiagnosed diverticulitis.
The doctors began to rapidly work to get him on antibiotics to fight the infection that he had as a result of the bowel leak. They began dialysis to assist his kidneys in flushing the toxins out and they kept him as comfortable as possible amidst regular blood sugar checks, CT scans, MRI’S, ultrasounds and vitals/med checks. After another surgery to check the progress in his abdomen, which the doctors said he did very well though, he began a feeding tube and was awake more frequently though struggling with right side function. After the MRI images were read it became known that he had near a dozen legions on his brain. At this point we were given 2 possible end results, the legions were either late-stage undiagnosed lung cancer, non-treatable or they were a very rare result of the infection from the initial virus having spread and potentially treatable.
After agreeing to an ultrasound-guided liver biopsy, Chris & I continued feverishly praying for clarity in this situation hoping for a possible recovery still, as the doctors had said that if the results showed infection that a transfer to University Hospital Downtown may be in the cards and their neuro team may be able to treat the infection in the brain directly.
After deciding it was time to attempt to ween & remove the breathing tube, the doctors did so successfully. We endured a long night of prayers waiting for answers but then we were told it was conclusive, it was infection & that he would be transferred to UH for his best chance at a fight. We felt like it was our first piece of promising news. UH has some of the best physicians countrywide and if God could perform a miracle, we felt it just may come at the hands of such qualified medical staff.
Willis was transferred on Saturday 2/11/17 in the late evening hours to UH downtown and we began what would be our next journey. His first full 24 hours in the MICU there felt very much like the first day at Lake West, very touch & go to stabilize him and familiarize his new team of doctors and nurses with his case. After another set of CT scan & MRI, we were again informed he was very sick and the infection looked to be rapidly progressing.
Chris was asked to consent to yet another surgery, Monday this time, brain surgery to drain a legion to begin figuring out how to attack the infection. While waiting for the infection to culture in the lab, Willis’ condition continued to worsen ultimately leading to the most difficult discussion we could have had last night. The doctor painted a clear picture of the damage that has been done to most of his vital organs by this infection and that it is irreversible at this point.
My husband then made the heartbreaking decision of stopping life-saving efforts and focusing on his comfort…….Willis was strong and held on for a little over a day after they removed the tube. He was bathed and comfortable with a red plaid blanket and just a few of his loved ones with him when he took his last breaths and passed from our world to eternity where he gets to begin fishing with his Pops again.
So this is where we are, grieving an impossible loss and trying to figure out how to piece together our next steps….
Willis being such a young and vibrant man, full of life prior to this tragic fluke illness, was not prepared, nor expecting to be in this medical situation. Having just graduated college shortly before getting sick, with a degree in app design, he didn’t have a will, living will, life insurance or any noted or pre-arranged preferences as to where to place him after he has passed because he believed to have had far more time left. He has a storage unit that he is currently behind on due to this illness, that we also must navigate the legalities of saving from a sale, paying to bring current and clearing of his personal belongings.
As you may imagine, this has been an emotionally and physically demanding situation on our family. My husband has been strong through this for his dad, myself and our 4 daughters who will terribly miss their Grandpa Willie, but now his strength is weak and can only be expected. Since the beginning of this, we have spent more time back & forth to the hospital than anything else with his stability changing hourly. Managing our 4 daughters has only been possible with the blessing of help from those close to us who have stepped in to help us with childcare.
These decisions have been difficult enough, aside from increasing concerns about managing his affairs and the financial pressure that will place on an already strained financial picture for us. As we begin the decision-making process for a funeral, the grieving process of this loss to our world and attempt to regain some semblance of order back into our lives for us and our children, we appreciate everyone’s prayers, offers for assistance with the kids and support. This has been a terrible situation no doubt but many of you have helped us to see some silver linings mixed into this mess and for that we thank you… continued prayers are appreciated.
If you feel so led, a close friend of ours started this go fund me account to help take some of the financial strain from us at this difficult time….the link is here: