Outside of the Air Force "Chief Mac" was known as Robert McKee. Robert was my Grandmothers second husband but someone that all of my family has known all of is life. My Grandma and Robert were married in the fall of 1990 and for almost 10 years split living in my Grandmas house in Heath, Ohio and Robert's house in St. Lawrence Maryland. In the fall of 1999 they sold both of their homes and custom built a home in Troy, Ohio close to my Aunt Pats house.
The past 9 years have been rough health wise for Robert, it's been one thing after another. About 3 years ago things got really bad when Robert starting having mini seizures. I can't really remember but it seems like since then Robert has had extensive stays in the hospital 3 or 4 times a year but someone he always managed to pull through and go back home with Grams.
So Saturday afternoon when my Aunt Pat called to say Robert was being taken to the hospital I just thought it was like all the other times and everything would be ok, but I asked my Aunt to keep me posted on things. Early that morning Robert was having some gas pains and after trying some Gas-X it went away but came back and then he started having heart burn and some slurred speech. My Grams called the squad thinking he was having another one of the mini strokes.
Around 7 that evening my Aunt called to tell us that things were not good. While Robert was in the hospital he suffered a major heart attack and they recommend having Robert life flighted to a bigger hospital in Dayton. Robert was still conscious at this point and they just happen to have him in a room by the helipad. Being a Air Force man and World War II vets Robert wanted to watch the Helicopter come in so they opened the window and raised his bed for him which seemed to perk him up just a little bit. This was somewhat surprising to the doctors because they weren't sure if Robert was going to make the flight to Dayton. Anyway the point of my Aunts call was to let us know the doctors were recommending that family come in.
By some weird coincidence both my mom and Aunt Pat are sick but my Aunt being the only one close to my Grams was fighting through it to be with her at the hospital. So Steph and I decided we should go down to help and we wanted to be there for both Robert and Grandma. We got to Dayton a little after 9:30. During our drive Robert was taken down to the Cath Lab to have a heart cath. During the prep and surgery Robert coded 8 times one of which lasted almost 30 minutes. They were able to bring him back and complete the heart cath and place two stints. Somewhere during all of this Robert also had a massive stroke on top of the massive heart attack.
At 11:30 the nurses came out to get us and take us back to see Robert in is ICU room. They had him in a coma because of the medication. His heart rate and blood pressure were very low. The nurse told us it would be a long night and that Roberts condition was very very critical. Steph and I told my Aunt to go home and get some rest and we staying in the waiting room with Grams. It was a long horrible night! They had what looked like comfortable leather recliners but they were not comfortable at all. Grandma slept some off and on and Steph and I just tossed and turned the entire night. I think we each got about an hour of sleep between the chairs, the bright lights, the two men snoring in some of the other chairs, and the doors that kept opening.
Finally at 8 Sunday morning we pressed the call button and nurse came out to get us and take us back. Things were not looking very good. They had Robert maxed out on all the medications they could give him to bring his heart rates back up but they weren't really working. They told us to go eat because the doctor wouldn't be in for 30 minutes. After we ate a very gross breakfast we went back up to the ICU and the Kidney doctor met us. He explained the things the surgeon had the night before and said that because of the long period of time Robert had coded the blood wasn't getting to his organs causing extensive damage. He also said that both of Roberts kidneys had completely shut down. The only things keeping Robert alive at that point were the blood pressure medications he was on and that there was nothing else they could do for him because he was too weak for surgery. He also told us that they had stopped giving Robert the sedatives so he should have been awake but he wasn't and he wasn't responsive in anyway.
At this point my Grandma had to make the decision of what to do. Since the only things keeping Robert alive were the medications Grandma made the very difficult decision to sign a Do Not Recessitate and go into what they were calling Comfort Care. At this point they said they would make sure Robert wasn't in any pain but he could hang on on his own for minutes or days. The rest of our family showed up during the next few hours and we took turns sitting with Robert and making sure Grams was getting food and her medications. Surprisingly Roberts numbers stayed up throughout the afternoon. So Steph and I ran to my Grandmas house to shower and get her a clean set of clothes. When we got back to the hospital we went with Grandma to get some dinner so she could take the last pills of the day. Once we were done my we told my Aunt and Mom to go home and we would stay with Grandma again.
For an hour things were as they had been all day then out of nowhere alarm sounded on the machines that we hadn't heard. Steph immediately could tell that Roberts heart beat was showing some kind of abnormal rhythm (I can't remember the name). About15 minutes later it happened again. Then 30 minutes later it happened for the third time only this time it didn't go back to normal and his numbers started dropping. I walked out to the nurses station to see exactly what this meant even though I already knew. The nurse told me that this was the end and it wouldn't last very long. She asked if we would like to have the monitor turned off because otherwise the alarm would continue to sound. To make things more peaceful and calm for my Grandma we decided that would be best. The next 15 minutes were really hard, my Grandma stood by his bed and held his hand while I stood by her and held her and Steph held Roberts other hand. Steph and I were there to keep my Grandma calm but we cried more than she did which amazed me.
At 8:45pm Sunday January 4, 2009 Robert passed away. He was proceeded in death by his step son Leslie Harmon. He left behind his wife, two step daughters, 8 step grandchildren, and 3 great grandchildren. While I never called Robert my Grandpa he always treated me and the rest of his as if we were his children and grandchildren and we all greatly loved him. I know he lead a full and wonderful life but he will be greatly missed.
If it weren't for the amazing nurses Kim and Stacey at Good Samaritan Hospitals Heart and Vascular ICU I don't know if I would have made it through one of the hardest 2 days of my life. They truly were Angels in disguise and we were so lucky to have had them with us through it all.
Roberts funeral will be in Southern Ohio where both his and my Grandmas family are from on Thursday. Since Robert was a career Air Force man that was fairly high ranked he will have a full military service which I know he will really love.