Chapter 2 – The Worst Transfer

It’s Thursday night, and they are getting Ruth ready to be transferred to North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, NY.  Ruth was placed on the 8th Floor of the Monti Bass Cancer Building. Originally Ruth was supposed to go to the 7th floor.  This is the floor assigned for Leukemia patients.  Ruth was not feeling well.  She was complaining of headaches.  Ruth had a rough night and by Friday morning she called Evelyn hysterical.   She said she could not sit and felt very weak.  Ruth said she couldn’t even use a pencil to circle her choices for lunch and dinner on the menu.   We all arrived at the hospital immediately to find her in a state of confusion. Mary and Noemi approached the right side of the bed as Evelyn stood on the left side.  We all said hi and she responded very slowly.  Noemi and Mary began to talk with Ruth and it seemed as if she was looking at us but her eyes were looking in a different location.  We can’t explain it but we knew that something was wrong.   Evelyn leaned towards Ruth and said, “Hi sis, is everything ok”?  Ruth responded, “I hear you but I can’t see you”.  We immediately called the nurse again and she confirmed that something was wrong because Ruth looks worse than what she did that morning. Mary began to ask Ruth some questions and she answered some correct and some incorrect.

We then asked her to follow our finger from right to left.  She could only move her eyes to the right.  We asked her to raise her right hand and she did but when we asked her to raise her left hand she raised her right hand again.  We realized that her peripheral vision was gone. She could only see straight ahead.   We immediately called for her attending physician.  We expressed our concerns, the physician arrived immediately and began to examine her.  He also said that he needed to do a bone biopsy again to determine her chromosomes for the chemotherapy treatment.  In the meantime, they did the bone biopsy at her bedside.  They said she needed to stay straight and still for about 30 minutes.  Then she can move and wash up.  When we arrived back to her room, she was sleeping or so we thought.   She opened her eyes and said, “I am hungry”.    We first cleaned her up and began to feed her soup.  I’m not sure why Mary started feeding her.  I guess we all thought she could not feed herself.  We realized that she had no movement on her left side.  She seemed to be very confused about everything.    She couldn’t seem to coordinate herself.   Ruth was concerned as to why they had to do another bone biopsy.  We explained to her why.  She was crying and complaining about her head hurting.  We called the physician who began to ask her lots of questions, like, her full name, age, her current location, the current year and month and asked her to move her right and left arms including her right and left legs.  Half of the questions were answered correctly and half were not.    They immediately, with bed and all, took her to have a brain exam. The physician informed us that she had a blood clot in her brain the size of a plum.  They immediately moved her that evening to the Monti 7, leukemia floor. That night she had three neurologists doing extensive testing.  The nurses began to hook-up some machines to Ruth.  All we could think of is here we go again.  By this time, they immediately moved her again to MICU on the 6th floor.  The physicians asked Ruth’s sisters and our Cousin Papo to wait in the waiting room.

By the time the physicians and nurses were finished with Ruth, it had passed 3 hours and we were exhausted.  The nurse said we could go see our sister.  She was on several machines.  Again, another scary moment.  By Friday morning after we returned back to the hospital, we found that Ruth had a low blood count and platelets were low.  The physicians also stated that Ruth had a hemorrhage in her brain. I forgot to mention that by this point we probably had hundreds of people praying for Ruth. The physicians also mentioned that their last resort to correct this brain hemorrhage would be surgery. They were not optimistic at all and said that they couldn’t even put her on a chemo regimen because of all the other symptoms she was having.  In time, they did give her only one treatment of chemo and it seemed that her body was tolerating it.  They also gave Ruth steroids.  After another scan, they found that her condition was stable.  The right side of her brain is where she apparently had the hemorrhage and an underlining mass.  This is the cause of her left side deficiencies.

It’s Sunday morning and we are all at the North Shore University Hospital.  Ruth’s condition had taken a turn for the worse.  Her eyes were all the way to her right side and could not look at us as we spoke with her.   Her heart rate was decreasing.  She had several Physical Therapists working with her left side.  We are not sure when we remember the Physicians telling us that Ruth had a stroke and it seemed to have affected her left side.   It looked like it had affected her whole body.   We all began to cry out to God because we just couldn’t understand all of this.  All we remember is Ruth asking us “why did we have to move her from the other hospital”.  “Why did they have to put those chemicals in my body”?  “Now look what’s happened”!  “Why did you let them do this to me”?  Evelyn, Noemi, Mary and Abbey sat next to her trying to calm her down and at the same time, explain to her the best way we could as to what was happening to her.  We expressed how much we loved her and would never do anything to harm her, that every test and medicine they were doing and giving her is for her good. During our conversations, she seemed to feel more at ease. We continued to pray for her.  Ruth was concern that her family and friends were not visiting her.  She kept saying she wanted to see everyone and began to name a few.  Prior to this, the family felt along with the physicians that it was best she would not have any visitors with the exception of immediate family.  We were all trying to prepare Ruth’s daughters because they had not seen her in her present condition.  Our hearts were pounding so hard as her younger daughter entered the room and could not contain herself.  We had to rush her out of the room. Eventually, our brother Tony was able to talk with her and escorted her Daughter D’onna and our Niece Erika back to the room.  Minutes later, we all joined them.  We began to read to her from several inspirational books that several friends had given her while she was at Forest Hills Hospital.

Our Nephew Benjamin Jr. (JR) arrived from Florida and was able to spend some time with Ruth.  She was so, so happy to see him. By night time, Ruth must have had over 30 visitors, from friends to family.  By mid-week, the physician had put an order to move her into the Monti 7 unit since this is the unit that takes care of Leukemia patients and they felt they can keep a closer watch on her.  We called our prayer warriors and asked them to pray, pray, pray.  We felt we were in a desperate situation.  Ruth was in so much pain.  She couldn’t even lift her head because she said it weighed a ton.  Her eyes were all over the place.  Truthfully, we feared for the worse.

We are now into June and we continued to receive calls from Dr. Hamdani from Forest Hills Hospital. Now, here is a Doctor who really, really cares, because he didn’t have to call us to check up on Ruth. Our sisters went crazy over this Physician. Now you must understand that these sisters are not married, they found Dr. Hamdani to be a handsome young doctor who made them smile and laugh all the time.  The sisters can be funny at times.  But as much as we wanted to smile and laugh, it was like we didn’t even have the strength.  Watching our baby sister go through this horrific and cruel disease, it was more than we could bear.

It was great to see our two Nieces from Florida, Jeannie, and Yolly. They arrived at the hospital to find Ruth in good spirits and Ruth was so excited to see them.  They spent the whole weekend with her.  If you know our two nieces, when they get together, there is no stopping them.  They had my sister laughing and crying at the same time. Jeannie and Yolly were so wonderful. They helped bathe and change her.  They cleaned up her room and made her all pretty.   It’s always great when family comes because it takes a load off the other members that have to be there day in and out bathing Ruth, cleaning-up and making her bed.

The following week, our Nephews Andrew and Justin flew in from Florida to see their Titi Ruthie.  Justin couldn’t wait to tell her that he had just graduated from High School. When they arrived, unfortunately, Ruth was in the middle of a test.  Yes, another test! They were able to spend a little time with her the next day.

Sam called to speak with Ruth and it was a very emotional moment. She gave the phone back to Mary and she continued talking with Sam. Unfortunately, he is not able to come to see her, but promised that he will be in New York in August.  Can’t wait to see him!

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