On November 7, 2020, I received a phone call from my stepson Conner. I could tell by the fear in his voice that something was terribly wrong. I remember his exact words, “Dad is conscious, but you need to meet us at the hospital now! Dad is in an ambulance they’re taking him to the hospital. He was in a bad accident!”
My husband, Chris, had been visiting a close friend of ours who was building his new home. Suddenly, a machine malfunctioned and caused the lift to freefall from 60 feet. My husband’s face and foot took all the impact.
Chris was immediately transferred to a hospital with more expertise in orthopedics and maxillofacial surgeries. By the end of a long stay he was released with his face full of titanium plates and a foot held together entirely by pins. He was told that he would not be able to move his foot for a month. The doctor felt that if he were to inadvertently cause any damage, they would not be able to repair it a second time.
Looking back, I wish they had just amputated his foot. But I also know my husband would never want to live the rest of his life that way.
A week after leaving the hospital, we had to go back to refit his hard cast, as the swelling had decreased. The following day, Chris began complaining about a sharp pain in his calf.
I suspected a blood clot. I panicked and ran to our neighbor’s house to get him aspirin and reached out to his doctors, who said to bring him to the ER if the pain didn’t subside. I also expressed concern that he wasn’t prescribed a blood thinner.
After the aspirin and the phone call to his doctor, Chris’ pain began to subside. I urged him to take an aspirin daily, but my husband, who was very strong-willed, refused.
On December 7, his cast was removed and replaced with a boot. He was so excited to be one step closer to walking again! I thanked God everyday he was still alive and felt blessed that I was still able to hold him in my arms. That evening was great, friends came by to check on him, and he even ate some solid food for the first, and sadly the last time.
Early in the morning on December 8, I heard Chris yell “help!” from the first floor where he had still been sleeping due to his surgery. When I got to him, he had his head in his hands and said his last words to me which were “9-1-1.” As I grabbed the phone to call, he collapsed face first from the couch.
Terrified, I screamed for my stepson Conner. We began performing CPR until emergency services arrived. His brother, a state trooper, was one of the first people on the scene. We followed behind the ambulance in the cruiser with Conner and I both crying unable to process the reality of what was happening.
The hospital tried their best, but ultimately Chris passed away from a pulmonary embolism caused by deep vein thrombosis, which developed due to his injuries. I had to make the long walk down the hall to tell my son his father didn’t make it.
I spent every day from 2 p.m. on November 7, 2020, until the day he passed by my husband’s side. I’m grateful for that extra time, but it wasn’t the forever we promised each other.
Our lives shattered due to a preventable situation. Chris was our everything and he was taken from us far too early. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to rid myself of the guilt for not pursuing the blood thinner issue further.
I’m so grateful for the opportunity to share my story with you. I hope that by reading this story, the next family may be able to win the battle we lost. My goal is to spread awareness and help prevent the loss of a loved one by understanding the signs and risks brought on by blood clots and the importance of blood thinners.