Allyson Altit

The Sol Project and The Will To Live, Cont’d

Part 3

It is difficult to convey the depth of the Sol project: suffice to say it has evolved into a mission and more significantly it is about love and devotion from all the lives that Sol has touched and how truly committed everyone is.

We entered into the third month of Sol’s hospital stay. Since the tragic cardiac arrest, Sol was transferred to the CCU floor where there is a nurse for every 2 patients, in addition to cameras in the room in order for the front desk to monitor the patients. With Sol not being responsive we were on pins and needles. He would have another arrest and another after that; I cannot put enough emphasis here as to how unbelievable Sol’s situation is. To say he arrested over and over again is not a casual occurrence, but rather moments of life and death. Each time Sol was flat out, but he came back to us every time. The doctors would come around and never had a lot to say. They were constantly baffled from Sol’s situation. Hence the details of Sol’s physical and mental condition were still not yet determined. We waited and waited for answers. Frustrating and nerve wracking moments were a constant.

It was November and I had to go out of town. I recall visiting Sol a day before I would need to leave. He was not as responsive as we had hoped and by this point a feeding tube was placed in his nose. Sol’s 60th birthday was around the corner. It was all so difficult to accept and believe that just a week prior to this disaster we spoke with him of celebrating, even though the birthday would be passed in the hospital. His and Anat’s wedding anniversary of 28 years would also come and go during that same week. When visiting him, I spoke to him and remained with the belief he could hear me, but I left with a heavy heart. That was actually how we all always felt when it was time to leave the hospital and leave Sol at any time. It was getting harder and more difficult to leave him in this place.

And then it happened; a few days later while away I received a phone call from my husband and when I answered, the first words he said very excitedly to me were, “It’s a miracle!” I recall the excitement I felt and just stood there saying Baruch ha Shem, that Sol was back with us. At that point Sol once again saw everyone and was able to recognize them. He blew kisses and was able to kiss his wife on the lips on their anniversary! PRECIOUS! He could communicate by lip reading which would be everyone’s greatest challenge for many months. All the intubations had destroyed his vocal chords. He had some damage to his motor skills but his mind was all there! Sol resumed directing traffic, and we were delighted to comply. The fact was, there was so little we could actually DO for him, but just having the opportunity to engage him and boost his spirit and try, on some level, to make him more comfortable was something we all very desperately wanted to do.

When I returned to visit Sol, he was in a new room across the way from his previous room. That was a good thing because as his wife told the staff, the room he was in was terribly depressing-without a window! Now he could see the light of day and his energy was improving. But shortly after he had another arrest and each time no one had a hint of how or if he would come back to us. Sol was battling with a weak heart and multiple diseases that were relentless. Sol, with all his WILL TO LIVE and all his COURAGE, would slowly bounce back and from that point he somehow displayed such an effort to show us that he was going to fight his way out of this and was not going to quit; by now he had endured cardiac arrest number 6!

Bed sores began to really become dangerous in addition to Sol having to endure such terrible pain from them. No position could relieve him. He still could not even take in a speck of water being on ventilation and we could only dip a stick into ice chips and wet his lips and the inside of his mouth. It’s been so sad to see how desperate his body is for hydration. He also ran fevers on and off and therefore the cycle of antibiotics began. And naturally along with that was the need for his body to tolerate side effects, and he tolerated that also! We began playing music often, Sol’s music of course, and it would lift his mood. From now on we had to wear gloves and a smock to prevent contamination for all. The physical therapists attempted to work him out but now into month 3 he was getting week as a feeding tube relocated and placed into his stomach was his only source of nutrition.

Thanksgiving was coming up and then shockingly as if this situation wasn’t terrible enough-Anat’s mother suddenly had a stroke. Anat would get the call from her family in Israel and of course there were NO WORDS at this point. Twenty four hours after her mom’s stroke Anat’s mother passed away. Anat had to fly to Israel quickly for the funeral. With Sol being so fragile he was not told initially. My husband and I spent Thanksgiving in the hospital with him trying to relieve his sister so she could be with her family, if only for a few hours. It was a sad time to say the least. Sol was going through many weak days and since he wasn’t sleeping much at night, he would sleep a lot of hours during the day. We put the Thanksgiving Day Parade on the television for him, but he just slept. We just watched him sleep and sat by his bed hoping that when he would wake he would have renewed energy. We could only attempt to engage him and do anything to keep his mind stimulated. He was down, and who could blame him; only Sol had every right to complain. How much can one man take!

His daughters and family and friends filed in and out as the Sol Project continued. People came from all over to visit. Sol has a huge village.

The next day when I arrived he told me that his sister was coming to pick him up and I should get him ready for him going home; he spoke to me in all seriousness. He was convinced that was going to happen. I asked the doctor what he thought was going on because his mind had been fine but this sort of talk was disturbing. The doctor explained to me that this sort of delusional mindset occurs after spending excessive time in the hospital. He would eventually let that unrealistic plan go and resume his usual state of mind. This was another disturbing aspect to the nightmare and the truth was, all everyone thought about was how could we get Sol OUT OF HERE!

Anat returned from Israel after only a few days because she could not be away from Sol with his condition so fragile, obviously. She would not be able to mourn properly as she resumed her devoted position by her husband’s side; alternating shifts with his sister and mother.

And now we found ourselves in the month of December and Sol would be relocated once again. Now to the fifth floor where the pulmonary department would be in charge of his case. They determined that he needed to be on their watch since the ventilator was the main issue front and center; we need to get Sol breathing on his own. And with all the energy that he basically does not have, he will BREATH.

About the Author
Allyson Altit is from New York. She has worked in the travel industry for over 30 years as a leisure specialist. Her area of expertise is in European destinations and Israel. She has been involved with charity work for the Hadassah organization as well. In 2009 she graduated from Queens College majoring in Jewish studies. She has just completed writing her first novel...
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