I remember walking into the hospital and seeing our mom breathing through this machine that covered half of her face. I couldn’t help but to break down and cry. How in the world could she have declined so fast from 3 days before?
My sister, Amber, advised me to leave the room and pull myself together so I wouldn’t scare my mom. Amanda sat in the chair in the corner of the room, looking helpless. My dad walked into the room, as I was leaving, crying. He followed me down the hallway and I asked, “Dad, is she going to make it? Is she going to make it dad?” I repeated myself over and over again. My dad started sobbing, as he was hugging me and replied, “I don’t know Ash, I don’t know.” We pulled ourselves together and walked back into the room where my mom and sisters were.
When I entered the room, I looked at my mom, as I was standing by her bedside. I said, “Hi mom, I am here.” My mom lifted her hand up for me to grab it and I pulled up a chair and held her hand. She held my hand hard for what seemed like a half an hour. I listened to her forced breathing. The machine pushing in the air and her exhaling. Every so often, I would hear a sigh as she exhaled. We all sat there wondering, where and what went wrong?
The day my mom got her liver transplant, she was very hopeful and nervous. We all were. They were getting ready to roll her back and we all were giving her hugs and telling her “Good luck, see you when you get back.” I looked at my mom, as I was bending down to give her a hug, I started crying. My mom whispered in my ear “Don’t cry.” The tears started pouring out and my mom, dad, and sisters started crying to. She looked at me as they were rolling her out and she pointed at me and said, “I wasn’t going to cry, I’ll get you back when I come out.”
Surgery lasted forever, it seemed like. They came and got us when it was over and we went up to mom’s room to see her. She was pretty out of it, but she nodded when we would say things to her and talk a little. Eventually, mom was talking, walking a little bit, and looked great. She was doing great. Due to my mom having to stay within three hours of the hospital this last year, we were all talking about the trips we were going to go on when she was all healed and healthy. We all had hope for the future and excitement for the events to come.
On Sunday, there were a significant amount of doctors coming in and out to check on my mom. They were all complimenting her on how great she looked and how well she was doing. My mom had a central line in. The central line goes into the right side of the neck and into the vein to the heart to give a patient blood, medicines, fluids, etc. Due to surgery, they put in a central line that was bigger. Since she was doing so well, they wanted to change out her bigger central line to a smaller one to reduce the chances of her getting an infection. They asked us to leave the room, so we did.
They told us that it would only take about thirty minutes, so we went to the waiting room and did exactly that, we waited. Thirty minutes go by, an hour goes by, a hour and a half goes by. We’ve heard nothing. Eventually we get to go back in and my mom’s face looked terrified. That look on her face is something that we will never get out of our heads. She told us, “They had a student change my central line and they put the central line too far in and my heart went crazy.” My mom continued to tell us that the nurse was yelling and telling them that they were putting the central line in too far. They ended up taking it out and replacing it. We thank God that the nurse was in there, looking out for my mom.
At this time, it was later Sunday, Jorden, Amber, and I decided that we would leave Omaha because mom was looking good and so far everything was still looking great. We look back at everything that happened Sunday and the change in my mom’s demeanor, and we wish we would have stayed. At the time, we didn’t notice it, we were just so excited she was looking good and optimistic about the future and the time that we all would have with our mom.
On Monday, it was a very hard day for my mom. My dad and Amanda were there with her and was sending us updates all throughout the day. The doctors performed some CT scans and found blood clots in her lungs. So they started blood thinners, in hopes that this would help with that. They also found out that my mom had a heart attack early Monday morning (keep in mind about 4-5 hours after the central line incident.) They decided they wanted to move my mom down to 5th floor. This is where patients go when they are recovering well. The nurse that my mom had, begged them to keep her in the ICU because she was not ready to go anywhere else. They still decided to move her anyway. This didn’t make sense to us.
Continuing on with Wednesday, they moved mom back to the ICU. Amber called me and told me I needed to get to the hospital. Amber is the type of person that has the instinct of a nurse. I personally think it is her calling. She was asking the nurses questions and looking up what the side effects were to the medicines that were given to her because mom was just not doing well at all. They had my mom on a certain medicine and was giving her THREE TIMES more than what she should have been receiving. My mom couldn’t keep her eyes open for more than a couple seconds and they would roll to the back of her head, she couldn’t speak, and was acting really weird. Amber asked the nurse, “Why do you have her on this medicine because everything my mom is going through right now, I think the side effects are because of this medicine.” Not long later, the nurse took her off the medicine and my mom was starting to do better to where she could keep her eyes open and talk a little bit. We were so confused. Why were they giving her three times the amount she should be receiving? Why did they take her off of it when we started asking questions?
Thursday, mom was doing about the same except they allowed her to go on oxygen through her nose, rather than the oxygen mask that covered most of her face. She was still having a lot of trouble breathing. We were all watching her oxygen levels and when she would sit up, her oxygen levels would drop to lower 70’s. We noticed when she got out of bed to sit, her legs were huge. She was filling up with fluid so fast, but not getting rid of any of it. Due to this, they were talking about putting her on dialysis to try to remove some of the fluid.
Mid-day Thursday, they decided that they would look at her heart and possibly do a heart stent because the cardiologist found something that concerned him with mom’s heart, so they were getting her ready to take her back to the OR. My dad explained to the cardiologist what happened with the central line on Sunday and how mom had a heart attack a few hours later. My dad asked the cardiologist if this is the reason why her heart isn’t doing very good. The cardiologist said, “That could cause the problems, yes.” Everything that we have been thinking about with the central line is the only thing that makes sense as to why she was declining so fast, all signs were pointing to that.
The doctor (the one that was in the room last time her central line was changed and everything went wrong) came in after the cardiologist left and told us they were going to change her central line again to the bigger one. WHAT? We were so scared for my mom. My sister, Amanda, asked him, “Are you a student?” He looked at her kind of weird and explained that he is a doctor and said how many years he’s been doing what he was doing. Amanda replied, “I am not questioning your ability sir, but a student changed the last central line and he or she went too far into the heart and we found out that that could have caused her heart attack.” His face FLUSHED, he was so white. He asked us, “Who told you that?” We all replied, “The cardiologist.” He hurried out of the room. We heard him in the hall saying in a panicked voice, “Did the cardiologist say that?” He was freaking out. WHY? If nothing happened that was wrong, why was he freaking out? Everything seemed so weird to us. Our minds kept going back to the central line incident.
After they changed the central line, we were able to go in and be with our mom. Mom was pretty out of it, as she was put on sedations for the procedure. We sat there and watched a student poke my mom, digging into her skin for 30 minutes before someone else decided to take over and do the job that the student was doing, that nurse completed it in about 2-5 minutes. My mom ended up being a half an hour late to the OR because they let a student “experiment on my mom” and then the nurse was giving the student computer lessons from across the room. We just couldn’t understand why they were still acting as if she was some type of test, some body to just test on. It was so frustrating to all of us.
They finally got my mom to the OR, the doctor talked to us and told us that the procedure would take about thirty minutes if they do not do a heart stent and about an hour if they do. Two and a half hours go by and we heard nothing. Eventually, the doctor came out and said that they ended up not doing a heart stent because they did not need to because nothing was wrong with the heart. The doctor said, “We did not do a heart stent because there is nothing wrong with the heart. Do you hear me? There is nothing wrong with the heart. It is undisputedly not the heart.” This did NOT make sense? Why was he repeating himself so much? Was it what we said earlier about the central line? We felt as if they were hiding something. If nothing was wrong, why did the cardiologist say that one part of the heart was not keeping up with the rest?
My mom eventually made it back in her room but the nurse told us that they were going to start her on dialysis. The nurse told us that it would take fifteen minutes to a half an hour, BUT we waited 3 and a half hours before they would give us information. We finally found out that they were having trouble hooking up the dialysis and found out more information on my mom’s condition, that her heart was having spasms? WAIT, but nothing was wrong with the heart according to the doctor earlier?
Throughout the day, many doctors came in. Each doctor was in charge of something different. Heart, liver, kidney etc. It was interesting because each one of these doctors would blame a different organ. They were all pointing fingers at each other. We never got answers, due to them blaming all the other organs but the one they were “in charge” of. We were put in the dark for a long time. We were so confused, due to doctors telling us not to listen to other doctors. I thought the hospital was a team? It didn’t appear to be.
Thursday night/Friday morning. They decided to take my mom back to the OR to open her up, due to her stomach getting really hard. It was as hard as a rock, due to her filling up with fluid and everything inside swelling up. Once she was out of surgery, the doctors informed us that they took off 4 liters of fluid and found blood in her stomach. She was bleeding internally somewhere, but they did not know where, so they started giving her blood. This also did not make sense to us. If her stomach was filling up with blood, why didn’t they try to find where the blood was coming from?
Friday, mom was able to open her eyes a little bit but was still pretty out of it. It was just so sad to see. She had a lot of visitors though! Some of my friends decided to surprise my family and I. All of the kids (Braylee, Avery, and Max) came with their dad, Ty and Grandma Marty to see Mom. Mom didn’t really respond to a lot of us other than opening her eyes for a few seconds and reaching for hands, until the kids came in. This really had mom’s eyes open. The way Braylee said, “Grandma, I love you. Keep fighting Grandma.” Brought everyone to tears. Mom wasn’t really responding to anyone until Braylee started talking. Mom kept reaching for Braylee’s hand and squeezing it. We knew and could tell my mom was so happy to have everyone there with her, especially those grandbabies.
Later Friday, I noticed my mom’s hands were very stiff and Amber and Amanda noticed my mom’s feet were stiff too. We knew what this meant, early signs of death. We decided to ask the nurse to see what she would say (hoping we were wrong, that possibly it could be something else.) She told us, “Well since she is filling up with fluid, some of her limbs may go stiff.” Okay… Throughout Friday, we kept asking the nurses how mom is doing and told them to be blunt with us. They kept telling us, “She is doing much better.” “She is doing great.” “She’s getting better.” But we knew this was not true. Every single time they said she was doing better, they would add another bag or more medicine to her IVs and crank up her oxygen.
A couple hours later, a nurse came in a told us that they are wanting mom to get over the 12 hour mark. If they could get her over the 12 hour mark, that meant things would be looking up a little bit more. They told dad that what might happen is mom’s heart could stop and there might not be anything they could do to save it. We were told to just talk to mom as if we were having a normal conversation. This was hard for all of us. We all tried so hard to talk normal, but how could we? We all talked to mom about numerous things, the wedding, the house, the grandbabies. One specific memory we all remember is the fact that Amber was telling mom about carving pumpkins and trick or treating (something my mom loved to do with us and the grandbabies) and what the kids were going to be for Halloween. Mom would nod and we noticed tears coming down her face.
7 hours before my mom passed away, we were finally told that she was in critical condition and if we had any family that we needed to call, we would need to tell them to get here just in case. Interesting that they tell us this now, when she’s been the same over the past couple days.
There were doctors and nurses that would come in and call our mom a “he” and would call our mom by a different name. The priorities of this hospital is not to get to know the patient at all or even know the sex of the patient. This was frustrating to us because mom had been there for over a week and they were still getting her sex wrong and her name wrong.
During the night, we were asked to leave because they wanted to do an x-ray. We left to the waiting room and Amber, Ty, Jorden, and I fell asleep in the waiting room. Amanda and dad ended up going back into mom’s room, when they were told they could. They were sleeping in my mom’s room, when something weird was going on with my mom’s monitor. Amanda remembers starting to fall asleep on the floor when dad woke her up. Within seconds, doctors and nurses came running in, yelling mom’s name, “Jeanna, Jeanna, stay with us Jeanna.” Mom’s heartbeat came back and suddenly dropped to a flat line again. Amanda ran down to the waiting room and told us frantically, “something is wrong with mom, it’s happening.”
I ran as fast as I could down to my mom’s room, I saw my dad outside of the door. I went passed him to look into the room. There were numerous of people in there. We all saw what we never could have imagined seeing. There was a man, performing CPR on our mom. We were all standing there outside mom’s room listening, waiting, holding each other. We heard them over and over again, “check for a pulse, no pulse, start again.” This went on for what seemed like a couple of minutes, but really 20 minutes went by. The Chaplin of the hospital came out and asked us if we needed anything, my dad replied, “A miracle, we need a miracle.” Another lady told us that they have been doing CPR for over 20 minutes and asked us what we wanted to do. We all replied, “Don’t give up, keep going.” They continued to do CPR, they got a heartbeat! The Chaplin turned to us and said, “That’s a miracle, that doesn’t just happen after 20 minutes of CPR.” At the time we didn’t think about this, the miracle that we were praying for, God granted us a miracle, maybe it wasn’t the miracle we were praying for, but we got a miracle.
After about a minute, my mom’s heart stopped and they couldn’t get a heartbeat back. The same lady that asked us what we wanted to do, came back out and said, “Do you want to see your mom?” We all knew what this meant, mom was gone.
When we went to be with mom, it was the worst thing in the world. I held my mom’s hand and cried and all I could say is, “I love you, I love you, I love you.” I looked around the room and I saw my dad sobbing, kissing my mom’s forehead, running his fingers through her hair. I heard my sisters crying so hard, one saying, ”Oh momma” and the other repeating the words, “Why, Why, Why.”
The hands, which worked so hard were at rest. The heart that loved so much, was at rest, no longer working. We tried to hug our mom, but the arms that used to hold us and hug us, could no longer wrap around us. Everything that we have known to be our mom, vanished.
We’ve all come peace with the fact that she is in heaven and she is a beautiful angel looking down on us. The one thing that we have not come to peace with is the fact that we still have not received answers. In our opinion, the accident with the central line caused all the problems that lead to her death. Amber called my mom’s transplant coordinator and asked her if the accident with the central line could have caused our mom’s death and she said it is a good possibility. She also talked to another doctor and asked his opinion and he said, “Yes, that could definitely be why.” Our mom did not pass away from her liver transplant. In our opinion, our mom passed away from medical error that they tried to cover up.
We may never hear from the doctors involved the exact reason why, but we know deep down where everything went wrong. We hope that another family does not have to go through the nightmare we had to. The false hope, the false information, being put in the dark for so long and clueless as to what condition our loved one was in before it was too late.
This is our mom’s story. Jeanna Hansel’s story. Jeanna Hansel was a fighter and she fought as hard as she could. Mom, you are our hero. Fly high beautiful Angel.