by Greg Taylor
Most of you are familiar with my story. My sister has been fighting all her life. We both witnessed as children a life that no child should have to experience. We were five years apart in age but had a special bond of survival. I ran away when I was 16 and she ran away at age 11. We both went our separate ways. After high school I left Spokane only to return once briefly and then left for good. My sister Kristi began a relationship with a young boy and moved in with his family at age 11. Kristi gave birth to her first child at age 14. Ashley is now 19 with a beautiful 3 month old son named Kennon. Two years later at 17 she gave birth to her son Chad who is now 17. And then at age 19 she gave birth to another daughter, Ashley who is now 14.
Kristi was good mother. She showed her love deeply. She was always taking in other children who needed love. But she was wounded so terribly. But her children were first priority. Her wounds were stored inside. Yes, she made some very bad choices in life and she lived the life that she only knew how.
As we look back Kristi started regressing after drugs took our mother's life 13 years ago. If I was to compare Kristi's death to our mothers, it would nearly be identical with the exception being our mother survived in the hospital about 10 days longer. Our mother and Kristi had developed a co dependent relationship and were very close following the birth of Kristi's second child, Chad. While our mother's death was devastating to all involved it was especially so for Kristi.
Kristi started pushing her children to their father and began distancing herself over the past year to year and a half. She was hurting inside. I believe because she loved her children so much she was trying to protect them. Kristi started using Meth and moving from one bad abusive relationship to another. Since December 2007 she had attempted three suicides. We (the family) were only aware of 1 other time.
Her fourth attempt she was discovered in a flower bed on a busy intersection in Spokane a week ago from yesterday. When she arrived at the hospital she was awake and sitting up. She told the nurses that she did NOT want family contacted and the nurses explained her attitude as very angry that she was at the hospital and that they were helping her. On Friday test results came back and she was progressively slipping in and out of a consciousness. State law requires the hospital to list her as a confidential patient so at this point there was no family contacted or family member names discussed. She had taken a bottle of tylenol and some Meth. Her liver had stopped functioning and the toxins were killing her.
Her nurse decided that it was time to contact family as death was imminent. On Saturday after much research she discover her daughter Ashley and contacted her. The doctor that was assigned to her case said if we wanted to see her alive we need to get there now.
Natalie and I were at the funeral of my cousins wife in Kentucky who also suffered from mental illness and took her life. We were not able to arrive to Spokane till Sunday morning. Walking into the hospital room, memories of our mother overwhelmed me. And then the children. And then I realized that I was hurting so bad because it felt like I was losing one of my children. Often times it was just Kristi and myself when we were small.
Monday morning a senior doctor came in and after reading the CT brain scan that showed no brain swelling or bleeding announced that he disagreed with the previous doctors diagnosis and said we should expect full recovery. Kristi's liver was starting to work again and had improved from Sunday to Monday. He just simply said we should expect full recovery as the Liver continues to work again. He then wanted us to place her on life support to help her breathing so she didn't tire out and get pnuemonia. Well.... there was now hope and we agreed.
Tuesday test results showed again improvement of her liver functions so the doctor ordered a feeding tube. At this point I was beginning to question our decision to put her on life support and then all of a sudden he was putting a feeding tube. I struggled with this the entire day and evening. But the others were not including Natalie, so I was trying to find comfort in that. Now that we nearly had every machine in the room keeping Kristi alive I told Natalie she might as well go home. So we made arrangements for her to go home early Wednesday morning.
In the wee early hours Wednesday morning Kristi had a seizure that lasted 10 minutes. Followed by another seizure four hours later that lasted 22 minutes. I had shared my uncertainty with the night nurse and she encouraged me to approach and challenge the doctor. She also told me he was the best at the hospital and she would trust her life with him.
Natalie left for the airport about 730am and the doctor arrived around 830am just in time for a third seizure that lasted over 30 minutes. I challenged the doctor! But he convinced me we were doing the right thing and he again repeated "I expect FULL recovery." Then he offered for my comfort to order and additional CT scan of her brain.
Kristi went down for the scan around 1030am. It was almost an hour before she returned. She had another seizure during the scan. When she returned the Nurse, whom I love, in passing looked at me straight in the and shook her head. About 30 minutes later I was informed that the doctor wanted to talk to me and that he would be calling at 1pm.
At 115pm the doctor called and explained that Kristi's head was extremely swollen and was so swollen there was no room for the swelling to continue. The same doctor that said she will fully recover was now saying there was no chance due to her neurological status. We decided to remove life support. Around 3pm the life support was removed. We were fully expecting her to survive at least a couple of days, because our mother lived nearly a week after we removed life support. This was not the case. Kristi passed on about 5 minutes after removing the support.
I don't have to tell you how tragic and how desperate the kids are feeling. I was not in too good shape that afternoon and Thursday morning, but I am better today.
My sister did not have a chance at life. Again, yes she made some bad choices. But she was sick. Mental illness is very serious and it can take control. It took control of my sister. She did not have the support system that my Granny had put in place when I was a small child. After I ran away from home, I left everything including her behind, which I am sure added to her woundedness. But she was sick. I want you to hear that. She was not in control when she took her life. She was in a very dark and lonely place.
I thank God for each of you. God has used you as His rock in so many ways. Thank you!! May God's Light shine upon you this day!
With All My Love,
KRISTINA LYNN BLANK
July 12, 1974 - May 21, 2008
May 27, 2008 @ 11:00 am
Northside Church of Christ
N. 5601 Jefferson
Spokane, WA 99207
Terry Smith, Officiating
In honor of Kristi Blank, The ZOE Group would like you to have this free download of the song that kept sustaining and giving courage to Eric about God's everlasting love that never lets go. You Never Let Go