Sara Harvey is the Horseheads, NY woman who is desperately fighting to get her husband Gary home.
Gary fell down the basement steps at his home in January 2006 and suffered a traumatic brain injury. Since the accident, he has been in either a nursing home or the hospital. Being under the authority of Chemung County, NY, who was involved in a so-called ethics committee decision to petition to starve & dehydrate him to death, Gary has been basically isolated and allowed only restricted (and very limited) visitation from his wife and friends.
Sara wants her husband to receive a second opinion — an independent second opinion — and for Gary to have every chance possible to recover to whatever level he is able. She has, after all, repeatedly seen him be meaningfully responsive in his interactions with her and others. But those in control of Gary refuse to acknowledge this fact while at the same time refusing to allow him to receive an outside second opinion at a leading-edge brain injury hospital with much-higher-level experts. This is despite the fact that it appears over one million dollars has been spent in the past year on supposed healthcare for Gary that has not included any significant rehabilitative therapies. Sara Harvey believes that with physical therapy and a healthy dose of interaction with people that Gary knows that his quality of life will have a chance to improve drastically. She is prepared to give him that chance. She is prepared to bring him home where he would want to be.
The following is what I imagine Sara might be thinking.
* * *
Darkness threatens to fill the room, but light from the computer screen refuses to submit and flickers in a defiance surprisingly pronounced. I look at it in wonder, as the sounds begin to touch the night. The lonely night. The night where the only whispers I hear are my own.
The grandfather clock ticks away in earnest, moving towards… ever towards… the chime that will announce still another hour passed without Gary home and by my side. Another hour. Another day. Another night in aloneness and worry. How might I stand even another moment? None of this can be real. This isn’t what life is supposed to be like. This isn’t what life with Gary promised to be. What happened to that promise? What happened to Gary? What happened that night when our life together was stolen?
Memories come racing forth. I try to shove them back. I try to close my ears and my eyes and my heart. I try. I try so very hard, but all I can hear is Gary’s laughter brushing against the moment, as his breath brushes my cheek and that smile, that wondrous smile, and the twinkling of his eyes fills my thoughts. I reach out to touch his face… but my fingers touch nothing but the cold night air. They touch nothing but emptiness as his features fade into a reality that I wish not to be mine or his. How dare this all be. I shan’t allow it. I won’t. I simply won’t.
My refusal falls to deaf ears and is mocked by a fate that has no mercy for Gary or for me.
I look down the hall. The hall to where I might suppose Gary to be, if I didn’t know he was alone and isolated in the dark room so far away.
I whisper into the night, “Why?”
There is no answer.
The clock chimes with a sadness I had never noticed before.
I walk down the hall to see if by chance this has all been a nightmare, but the stairs grab me and hold my attention with a force beyond any I have ever known. This is where the nightmare began. This is where my world dissolved and Gary was taken from me and I from him. How can it be here so still, yet full of an energy so powerful it threatens to pull me into a crippling despair of taunts with the suggestion of failure determined to embrace me.
No! No! I shan’t allow the despair or the devastating fear to over-power me. I shan’t. I won’t.
I hear the little feet rushing to the bedroom and I follow the sounds of my memory.
On Gary’s pillow, I can see her sitting so proudly because she beat him to the bedroom. A soft smell of musk touches my senses and I hear Gary’s laughter as he says, “Tippy Queen of the Cats, you have done it again. You rule, your highness.”
The laughter. The happiness. The soft smell that floated around Gary presence, where did it go? Will it ever be again?
Suddenly, I can only see Gary alone in that cold room of isolation. The room where stillness devours and no loving touch is given. A room where he lays and waits and wonders, as people without compassion threatened to kill him or allow him to die, if given just that one chance to make it be. Why? Why would they want him dead? Why no second opinions allowed that might free him to a better life and can do no harm? Why? Has he perhaps become property of ransom — held hostage for insurance? When did he stop being a man with hopes and dreams and things to do tomorrow and become a room number with a DNR in place and a price tag on his life?
I can only imagine the desperation he must feel and the panic that embraces his conscious thoughts all too often.
I can only imagine, but that is enough.
My smile is not replaced by the tears I so often shed. Instead, I feel the purpose build within my heart and soul and I return to the computer with a vengeance undescribed. I return to the letters and the searches and the hope that something… someone… out there shall be the answer to bringing Gary home. Home to a place where he shall never feel isolated or lonely or unloved again.
Yes, there is something or someone out there that can bring my Gary home, if only they will.
And Gary will always know that we don’t want him to die!
In our arms he is loved!
In That Cold Room of Isolation: The Case of Gary Harvey
Sara! Sara, Come Back! Don't Leave me Here!
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