Tuesday, December 2, 2008

"well-developed, well-nourished"

After weeks of hounding the Orange County Medical Examiner's office, I finally got the autopsy report.
I wanted it for curiosity's sake (some sick need to torture myself with more final information) and I later learned I needed it for insurance purposes.

I got the big fat envelope in today's mail.
Then I started thinking, "Do I want to open it first or do I want to sort through the other mail first?"
Junk mail first.
Bills next.
Then the autopsy.
I read it while standing up the first time.
There it is. All in black and white.
All permanent.
All official.

Most of the information was not new.
I had a physician friend translate it for me into more plain English.
Lots of brain damage. Lots of bleeding, lots of swelling, and lots of brain bruises.
Even his basic functioning was gone based on a lot of damange.
Pretty much all the damage they were seeing on the CT scan and predicting was there and it was there.
Roger would not have recovered.
Roger would have been in the exact state he was in on morning of his death for the rest of his life. At least mentally.
He would have lived in a nursing home, hooked up to a ventilator, having a feeding tube delivering his food, never awakening, never walking, never talking, and never seeing his world.

There is a sweet relief to having this information.
I did make the right decision.
I did what he would have wanted.
I did not choose to kill my viable husband.
He was not there.

There is also a lot of pain associated with it.
He is gone.
The permanency is even more real.
This is not a dream.
This is not going to change.
He is not here.

I also did not expect to be included.
But there I am, "his wife" the identifier.
There are both our names in black and white.
Our relationship clearly defined.
I was his wife.
I was put in the horrid position of identifying my 34 year old husband of six months.

It was nice to read that he was "well-developed" and "well-nourished".
He had nice teeth.
He had no deformities.
He had no cancer.
He had no congenital defects.
He had no drugs in his system.
He was perfect.

There are also some strange things that bother me.
Like the fact he wasn't dressed.
I sort of expected him to be in a hospital gown for some strange reason.

I was also bothered by reading all the medical intervention "evidence."
I was warned about this section but its still hard to read.
To read about all the catheters, bandages, and staples.

Maybe I'm sadistic or a masocist.
Maybe I'm too curious.
But at least he was well-nourished and well-developed.
He was perfect.

1 comment:

Crash Course Widow said...

I got Charley's autopsy report just before Thanksgiving that first year, so about 4 months after he died. And walking into the ME's office, having to explain who I was and why I was there, and reading it were so incredibly hard. I had to get some translations for what it said, but I found I couldn't read through it more than twice before I had to put it away, never to read it again. The first time I read it, I was just numb and trying to quickly read for anything that would be really traumatizing; the second time I read it, I was trying to actually understand what it said, drawing on my vague recollections from two semesters of anatomy in college...and trying to scientifically picture it but also trying to picture it specifically on Charley and with what I remembered of what he looked like the one time I saw him after the accident (because I wasn't there at the race when he died I didn't get to see him til 2 days after he died, after his autopsy and tissue donation) was too overwhelming. It was too much, too hard, and I had to put it away. And I had a really tough week or so after going through the autopsy ordeal.

I remember having some weird thoughts as I read some details in the report, like the measurements of his hair, nails, etc. Like with his toenails--I remember thinking he should have cut his toenails shorter before he died, so that they wouldn't have been so long...rather moronic of me, since he had no idea he was about to die. But hey, we think weird things when faced with weird widowed tasks...I guess. ;o)

Hang in there, Star....