It’s a Mystery, When Did Pie Man Leave Us?

June 21st, 2014

I can’t blame you for not reading this post.  I certainly can’t blame you for not sharing it.  For the most part, this post is for me and my family but I publish it publicly because maybe someone, somewhere will be brave enough to read, brave enough to feel, brave enough to cry, and brave enough to let it affect them in a positive way, even if it’s to hug their kids or think twice about taking antibiotics for an ear infection.

Lets get started.

Taken June 21, 2008

Taken June 21, 2008

So if you know Wyatt’s Story, you know that he had an allergic reaction to Amoxicillin (the most common antibiotic prescribed for an ear infection), went into liver failure, was sent through a 30 day nightmare of hospitals and uncertainty (from May 22nd through June 22nd, 2008), then finally, ended up needing a liver transplant while under the care of the UCLA Medical Center which was in the top five “best hospitals in the country” in 2008 according to U.S. News.

What you may not know without reading the full, detailed story I wrote the day after he died, is that he was in line for a life-saving transplant that was certain to turn it all around but everything changed six years ago, the evening of June 21, 2008.

At this time, my wife Trisha was being prepped for being a live liver donor (which in itself is a crazy story we’ll need to share some day) so she was out of commission when it came to being with Wyatt at this point in the process.  She was going to go under the knife and save her sons life and this meant that she could not be there for him in his last few days.

My Dad and I were at the hospital to see Wyatt finally have to be “intubated” which is essentially, putting him under and giving him a tube down the throat to ensure he can breathe freely.  Keep in mind, he’s 9-months-old and his Father (me) and Grandfather (Grandpa John) are going to have to see this through by his side.  But something went very, very wrong and while it seemed at the time that things were corrected, I now believe that this moment quite possibly could’ve been the thing that cost him his life.  Here’s what I write in “Wyatt’s Story:  A Father’s Retelling of How the Health System and one of our Nations Best Hospitals Failed a 9 Month Old in Need of a Liver Transplant“.

“From what I understand, it is standard procedure to take an MRI of a patient who is recently intubated. But as they worked on getting him prepped and moved over to the portable bed, something began to happen. The nurse suddenly became very determined and focused. The help from the rest of the staff all began to closely monitor his numbers on the portable machine. The air was thick with tension. Something was wrong.

Wyatt’s oxygen saturation levels were dropping and they didn’t know why. They began fidgeting with the tube in his throat talking aloud about what could be going wrong. Several additional staff members began circling his area and it wasn’t long before he was being watched by a good half dozen staff members of the PICU, if not more. I just sat there, I felt the features of my face become that of someone who was in utter shock and horror. All the while, Wyatt, even though he was heavily sedated and continued to get a bunch of meds pumped into him in rapid succession, continued to move and jitter, almost as if he was trying to fight whatever it was that was bothering him.

It’s very hard for me to know exactly how much time had passed. It felt like hours, but probably wasn’t more than maybe a half an hour, maybe even less. There was something else… when they attempted to move him back to his bed, I remember seeing a moment where the staff held his body and lifted but his head was not supported. His head dropped quickly as it was very limp and heavy and I honestly don’t remember if it had hit anything, but I do remember thinking “yikes, careful!” One of the nurses said something about it, but didn’t seem all too concerned with the incident. But it definitely sticks out in my mind and little did I know that it would come full circle in the near future.

Finally, things began to calm down a bit. Wyatt was back in his bed (still not resting very peacefully, his hands and feet were continuing to move lightly yet sporadically). The doctors finally had a chance to tell me what was going on. Basically, for some reason he was now bleeding into his lungs. This is a problem for patients with acute liver failure because the liver controls clotting of the blood (among other things) and when the liver has failed far enough, internal bleeding can happen spontaneously or can even be caused by the littlest irritation.”

Remembering Pie Man before the hospital

Remembering Pie Man before the hospital

I now look back on this moment, this day six years ago and I’m pretty certain that THIS was the day Wyatt passed away although there’s no way I could ever prove it.  This was the moment that caught up to the Doctors at UCLA who for some reason, continued to run just ever so slightly behind the curve compared to Rady’s at San Diego and his family who continually advocated that the situation was more dire than it always seemed.  Reality had finally caught up to them in the form of blood in Wyatt’s lungs which I believe led to too much medication in attempt to try and save him which ultimately led to a neurological failure that we and “most” of the staff weren’t aware of until morning (and I won’t even get into the conspiracy theory stuff that we saw this night and the next, maybe a future post).

To conclude, I can’t prove it.  I never will.  But June 21st, 2008 will go down in my own memory and experience as the true day that Wyatt passed away.  The day that the Doctors finally caught up to what we were telling them but by then it was too late.  And while someday, I may tell you all the story of the smoke and mirrors they played with us that led to us realizing his fate on June 22nd, 2008, I will never forget the horror and fright we felt as these people fumbled and stumbled over Wyatt’s intubation on this evening six years ago.

To this day, I will be haunted by this event.  Haunted by dinner at BJs afterward.  Haunted by the chilled Patron martini I drank that night afterward with my brother.  Haunted by the feeling that this was the moment that the #3 best hospital in the U.S. completely imploded and lost my son right before my eyes as we hoped and dreamed of his life-saving transplant that never materialized the next day.

June 22nd, 2008 was the day we said good-bye, but I truly believe, June 21st, 2008 was the definitive outcome for WHY we had to say good-bye on June 22.

I sure love my Pie Man, I really wish he could be with us today.



7 Responses to “It’s a Mystery, When Did Pie Man Leave Us?”

  1. Wendy says:

    I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. I can only imagine the pain you have felt for the past 6 years, a pain that will never truly go away.

    You are incredibly strong to be able to blog about this horrible journey you and your family are on, and are an inspiration. I know you’ll understand when I say that, as a mother, I hope I never have to look back at this for inspiration.

    You are all in my prayers.

  2. leamonade says:

    Thanks so much Wendy, we appreciate it during this difficult time! –Corey

  3. Jen says:

    Love and prayers to you and yours, my friend. My heart aches for your loss, but I can’t help but admire how you take your pain and re-enter the world and still manage make those around you smile. *hugs*

  4. leamonade says:

    Thanks Jen, hugs! Miss you and the Sony crew! –Corey

  5. Samir says:

    Hey dude,

    Heartbreaking to read this. I still remember when I heard and the profound sadness I felt at his funeral which was an incredibly touching event. Having kids now it makes everything so much more real and makes you appreciate how much they mean to you, and how we should enjoy every day they are with us.

    YNWA (You’ll Never Walk Alone} Pie Man.


  6. leamonade says:

    Thanks Samir, wow, all I can say is thanks. That means a lot to say so. Cheers friend. –Corey

  7. Diane says:

    A horrible, horrible tragedy. I am so sorry, and still pained and sad for you. As a result, I have no confidence in UCLA, or western medicine, in general.