I didn't realize until this afternoon that I hadn't yet explained what happened to Nova - how he went from doing so well, to doing so poorly in such a short period of time. Eventually, we'll make an appointment with Dr. Watts so he can answer any final questions we might have. But here's the basics.
What killed Nova was actually an infection. He'd had others, including the yeast infection, but this time it was something far more serious, and turned into a condition called sepsis. He was gone before we even knew what sort of infection it was, or where it originated, but what matters is that sepsis results in shock, which basically means that the body refuses to pump blood to the extremities in order to keep critical blood flow to the core organs. This causes a major drop in blood pressure, basically, the heart continues to beat, but the blood goes nowhere. Not even to the brain.
Nova was brain dead. We had the choice to either wait for his heart to stop beating on its own, or to unplug the ventilator. Either way, Nova was already gone, the only organ that was functioning was his heart. Ironic, isn't it?
We didn't see any point in letting it go on, this false sense of life that really isn't life. So we spent a little time with him, told him how much we loved him and how proud we were of how hard he'd fought. Then they removed the tubes and IV's and removed the ventilator, and I held him and rocked him until his heart stopped. We stayed with him for a while afterward, I don't really know how long - I just couldn't make myself put him down and leave him, knowing it was the last time I'd see him.
It was hard, but it felt better than making him go on, lifeless, for our own reasons. To do that felt selfish. I take comfort in knowing I was with him when he died. He loved to be held and snuggled close, and he hadn't been able to be held in six weeks. It was just right that he died in my arms.