Soaring: A Tribute (Part 4)

Slightly before Chrismas Day 2008, the doctors put Dandara on about two rounds of chemotherapy to clear the cancer in his lungs. After every round of chemo the doctors would do an x-ray and each time the x-rays returned better and better results, atleast that is what they told us. So we went for our usual doctors’ briefings and the doctor informed us they would start weaning Dandara from the ventilator.

Weaning, as the name suggests is the process of gradually removing a patient from a ventilator in order for them to regain independent breathing. It is a process that requires a lot of patience because the patient becomes accustomed to using the ventilator. What is worse the ventilator ends up messing up the lungs in the sense that a lot of uhhhm things clog the lungs and they have to be removed, which is a very painful process. That said, Dandara was anxious to start breathing on his own again and he worked very hard. For some reason known to doctors only, this procedure was mostly carried out in the evenings and would run through the night.

The first wean-attempt was amazing! Dandara managed to breath on his own for a cool eight hours. He was even able to talk. The only thing that was disturbing was he sounded like a robbot 🙂 Maybe because of the excitement and everything, he became tired and he was returned to the ventilator after he got a panic attack. He was disappointed. Very disappointed. “Last night was terrible,” he wrote on a pad the next day. I remember how we all sat around his bed that day, Dad, my sister and I. We held his hand and urged him to fight on. After three wean attempts, it became apparent that this weaning thing was a bitch. Not only was it painful, but it was also killing Dandara’s spirit and he was starting to give up.

So his doctor proposed that they do a tracheotomy. The tracheotomy was performed on Friday, 26th December 2008. It was painful to see Dandara lying down there on the ICU bed after this procedure, which requires general anaesthesia, had been performed, with the ventilator now connected to the tube in the trachea through the incision that had been done through Dandara’s throat. So we all hang on the slender thread of hope that Dandara would FINALLY be weaned from the ventilator since the tracheotomy had been done. This state remained until Monday, 29th December 2008 when Dandara’s doctor Dr. Dave (his real name) confessed that the medical team had failed to wean Dandara from the ventilator.

Tuesday, 30th December 2010, we went to hospital as usual. We hang out with Dandara, watching movies. His doctor had brought him a laptop and some animated movies to kill boredom. He told us he craved something very cold and we bought him a mango drink. As we sat by his bed that evening at around 8.00pm in the evening, I led everyone in prayer and I prayed about so many things. After praying, I left him my phone so he could listen to the radio that night. We said good night and we left. When we got to the parking lot, I became hysterical and l cried for almost half an hour while lying on the tarmac. I was tired of seeing my brother suffer so much. On that tarmac road that night I prayed and humbly told God it was time for him to either heal my brother or take him. I just could not stand the thought of how disappointed he would be the next day, if he woke up to find that he wasn’t weaned from the machines.

I would like to mention the names of three of my girlfriends who were there for me that night. Bc, Spender and Mchoko. These girls held it down for me, at the lowest point of my life. Bc took me home with her because funny enough my Dad and sis were not around on that night, they had left earlier. Dandara had made a special request before we left, he asked me to come to hospital early. I made a mental note to do so. So on the morning of 31st December 2008, we arrived at the ICU, we found his bed sealed off with curtains. As I was about to get into the ICU to find out what had happened, I met my uncle who is also a doctor. Our family had requested him to see my brother so that he could tell us exactly what was going on. And in the most frank way. He greeted me with a tight embrace and brought me to speed that the night before Dandara had suffered “respiratory distress” and his heart rate collapsed, and the nurses had to resuscitate him by pumping oxygen into his lungs, and now he had to have machine-support for both the lungs and his heart. His lungs had a 10% functionality.

It was over. I knew my brother wouldn’t live through this day. I walked to his bed kissed his forehead, he was unconscious because he was heavily sedated. I mumbled a prayer. The end was here, but I did not have the guts to watch him die. The nurses packed for me all his personal effects even his “get-well-soon-cards” a sign perhaps? I requested my girl BC to take me home. In the afternoon my Dad requested the doctors not to allow any visitors to see Dandara. He sat in the ICU just he and Dandara. He says that in an enfeebled miserable state Dandara later retained consciousness and mental alertness. He scribbled on the pad and told him, “I feel so anxious; what happened last night [when the respiratory distress happened]?” The ICU doctor explained that Dandara’s anxiety owed to his physical condition, with the lungs no longer able to take it, and now filled with carbon dioxide. At around 5:00 pm my Dad held his hand, feeling the end was near, as the nurse pumped sedatives into Dandara who had endured a painful chemotherapy drip the day before.

After my Dad left him that evening, while on his way to Wangige at about 7:00 pm, just after passing Spring Valley police station, he received a phone call from M. P. Shah Hospital. The message was brief: “Your son has passed on.” His response was similarly brief: “Thank you.”

Dandara’s time and date of death was 19.00hrs on 31st December 2008. His last facebook status message read: “Rising”. He truelly soars with the angels.

I just said that!

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  1. This brought tears to my eyes.. I’m so sorry for your loss.. May your brother RIP

  2. This brings back bad memories in my family. I will write about it one day, if and when I am strong about it. May he RIP. And thanks for sharing.

    • Poleni sana for your loss. Writing this series has helped me in someway, I’m not sure how, but it has. I pray that you find the strength to share with us your story. Bless.

  3. “Rising”! What strength?!Dandara is a hero in my book!

    • Maina
    • January 8th, 2011

    Quite emotional and so strong of you to share. He surely is with the angels.

    • jwanjiku
    • January 8th, 2011

    Got me all teared up. Thanks for sharing;for you shared with us Dandara’s, your’s and your family’s strength.

    • Raymond
    • January 8th, 2011

    I’ve been looking for words to make a coherent comment. . . Your pain,your family’s strength,we all relate to! Well written. You just made your bro very PROUD!

    • LoL. I could sort of imagine him scolding me for writing this story, “Saa ulishow wasee hii story kwa nini?” Then he smiles. 🙂

    • wangeshee
    • January 9th, 2011

    *wipin a tear*He truly soars with the angels above and he sure is in a better place.

    • You are called like my mummy 😀 Thanks for reading.

  4. he was a brave soul…and yours is beautifully courageous; sharing memories of him with us like this…

    • I am humbled by your comment. Thanks Nyambura 🙂

    • —Supreme-G.R.E.A.M—
    • January 10th, 2011

    So sorry. RIP Dandara

  5. You are really brave. I have a similar experience with my sister, and I couldn’t blog about it like you do. No one talks about her anymore. It’s like she never existed. 😥
    I’m sad for you.
    Thank you for sharing.

    • Hi, thanks for reading. One day, you may find the strength to share with us what happened to your sister. My sincere poles for the loss. Thanks for reading 🙂

  6. I dont even know you but i cried as i read this. So sorry.

  7. Heartening, you must be feeling lighter after letting such a deep story off your heart… words seem to fail me now..

    • I’m not sure how I felt after, I think I cried a lot. It’s part of the healing process…

  8. That’s a touching story. Pole for what you went through. Glad you’ve come through the other side stronger. May Dandara rest in peace.

    • True, I still don’t know how strong I am, but I know this experience changed my life. Lovely having you here 🙂

    • Buggz79
    • January 19th, 2011

    I lived through one of those dark long nights in June last year when my 4 month old niece fought for life after heart surgery…and lost. You illustrated the story with a beauty and poignancy that betrays your love for your brother and the pain seeing him in that state must have been like.

    And still you rise. As we all do.

    Bravo lass. You just lit a whole lot of fires with this post.

    • Your words encourage me. I recall the days you mention and even the beautiful poem that you put together for the departed angel. These are just but hurdles in the path to our destiny. Thanks for gracing my blog with thine presence bro. Blessings.

  9. this post touches the softest of nerves. I’m really sorry for your loss.
    Dandara’s fighting strength and will has inspired me. R.I.P. Soldier.

  10. Rising, he is!

    Thanks for sharing. I am sure many have been strengthened.

    • dee
    • February 18th, 2011

    I can’t even begin to imagine what you went through, I’m so sorry. And thank God forever for friends like those..:-)

  11. This was tear-jerking, literally. Your prayer on the tarmac in the parking lot really moved me…you asked God to either end His suffering by healing him or by taking him. That is true love, the ultimate sacrifice. There is a special crown for you in Heaven for the kind of love and sacrifice you showed your brother, from praying for his salvation to praying for his end to the pain.

    • Mad woman
    • October 13th, 2011

    i am broken in pieces….shaking even..

  12. I dont even know how I’ve bumped into this tribute series all these years later.
    That was so moving..shed a few tears. I lost my brother too about 5years ago..memories are still fresh. He’s rarely talked about at home and anytime a topic regarding him comes up, it ends just as fast..noone has completely accepted what happened..
    I think sharing plays a big role in the healing process though.
    Thanks for sharing your story. I can relate with so much in there..

  1. January 19th, 2011

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