Member Articles and Stories
The BEAST moved in with us about April of
1983, before we were aware he was around. He hid in the bushes, and growled
and nipped at our heels, but we didn't recognize him. We thought it was
something else, the wind or something in the bushes. Then he crept slowly
into our lives.
Michael Lee Lynch was a
wonderfully alive, intelligent, physically active young person with a zest
for life until the beast came along.
Mike was my son-in-law. He was
31, blond, blue eyed, and weighed in at 205. Father of two children, a girl
Michelle and a boy Ryan, who is a carbon copy of him.
He worked his way up from meter
reader to head of the computer department for a large utility company. He
had a brilliant future ahead of him. Mike went to school at night, and in
December before he began to experience his illness finished his degree in
business. He played semi-pro softball and was featured on the front of the
Dallas Times Herald Sports Section for his abilities. He was a friendly,
warm hearted young man, a good husband of 12 years, a good father..
Mike began to have trouble
swallowing and presented himself to the Doctor for diagnosis. The specialist
seemed to think that the cause of the problem was a deviated septum so
arrangements were made for an operation. This is a simple procedure which is
usually successful and the patient is better in a few days. Such was not the
result in Mikes case. After a stay in the hospital and a period of
recuperation he still had difficulty swallowing and began to have trouble
remaining in a closed space. The Doctor checked the result of the operation
and felt there might be an infection so Mike was given medication, which
After a time he became be highly
nervous and very claustrophobic. The Doctor suggested the possibility that
strain and the combination of the operation had caused psychological
problems. Mike walked the floors, believing he was going crazy. He found it
impossible to remain in a closed room or one without a fan. He could not
stand anything with a strong smell. He became nauseated and could not eat
and so nervous he felt he would go berserk. At times he was afraid he would
hurt himself. We tried everything, psychologists, punching bags, throwing
dishes and still the inability to stand closed places and the nausea
continued. What to do - no one knew. We were helpless.
Then came another swipe by the
beast- Double vision. Mike began to see everything double. So began another
round of doctors. Eye specialists who found no cause, no physical reason for
his sight disturbance...but put him in glasses for double vision, hoping it
was a temporary muscular spasm. No improvement came and soon we knew why.
In late 1983 Mike began to
stumble. He became less and less able to walk on his own. He could hardly
function, he could not read because of the double vision. He needed a walker
to stand and still we had no clues. One Sunday evening we took him fishing.
It was difficult and he let his walker drop in the water, we did not try to
shelter him but let him try to walk and fish. He and his son caught several
small fish but Mike caught the largest. What a pleasure this was because he
had accomplished something on his own and his son was proud of his Dad.
Next came the Neurologists.
Tests, tests, tests and more tests and no positive result. No one could find
anything wrong. His mind still functioned excellently, but his body no
longer responded to his commands.
After many trips to Houston,
Waco and other special center for tests, brain scans and physicals the only
thing the Doctors could find was a problem with the lower left primitive
brain. No one knew what or why.
In August of 1984 the head of
the Neurological department at Southwestern Medical took over Mikes case and
did a through work up. He found no more than the others, and so Mike
continued to stumble and fall through life fighting the beast all the way to
keep it from moving in. He failed, all of us did.
In March of 1984 the Doctor
found it necessary to do a biopsy of the brain, to see if there was a
possibility of something they had been unable to detect. The biopsy was to
have taken one weekend, and a couple of days in intensive care. It took a
couple of days, and two weeks in intensive care. Mike never walked again,
not even in a walker. The trauma coupled with his disease which the Doctor's
described as a Neurological Degenerative disease, was more than his brain
could stand, and so the beast moved into our family.
The beast took up permanent
residence in April of 1985 and we hated him. He became a part of our lives.
He is death and he continues to prowl around Mikes bed and wait patiently
taking small nips out of Michael day by day.
Constant living with this beast
is hard to explain. Mike so gradually lost his life, over 18 months. He
slipped as on a slow sled down a small hill. We too gradually slipped each
day. We lived as with a toothache, al-ways in the back of our minds lived
the pain of Mikes dying. The beast stalked. We glimpsed him sneaking around
a corner every now and then as when Mike had a seizure. These are part of
the nips of the beast. We see him reflected in Mikes eyes and feel him near
when Mike desperately holds onto our hands and won't let go.
The day to day living is
extremely wearing, the struggle, and the questions you face are
unanswerable. Some problems have no solutions. We especially are bruised by
the kind remarks people make such as "God gives you this trial to strengthen
you." Sometimes you wish to just be weak and cry, and cry. You really find
it ridiculous that God would use Mikes life just to strengthen- your
character. You find yourself wishing to remain weak so Mike can be alright.
My knees are sore from praying
and my heart is broken with the words of those who lay Mikes death on those
who love him because we haven't prayed enough. They have judged us as
without enough faith, who are they to judge, let them first walk in our
I find it impossible to believe
in a God who would destroy a strong, good young man's life to teach anyone a
One of the most painful things
are the people who bury Mike before he dies. Their excuse is that they don't
know what to say or that they cannot stand to see him this way. They see
their own mortality in Mikes eyes. They cannot stand the pain of seeing him.
Please don't stand over him and cry and moan. We know your pain, but Mike is
still there. If he must die please make his last days a celebration not a
Mike can no longer move from his
bed or wheel chair. He cannot eat, but must be fed through tube in his
stomach. He can't see except up close and double. He can no longer talk. He
is already in a prison where we can only touch his hand and his mind. Most
of all we never had the chance to talk with him because this came on so
If there are blessings, they are
two. Mike can still recognize friends and family, still under-stands what
you say to him and there is no pain. We are thankful for these.
Katerina Cobbler Ross says talk
to a person about their dying. How can you talk with someone who cannot
respond about a subject so devastating? I want to tell him so desperately
how I feel so many times, but the look in his eyes and the tears on his
cheeks stop me. I am frightened that he will only be burdened because of the
inability to respond and cry out his anguish to us. How very terrible to be
deprived of the ability to express your feelings, how frightening and
confusing it must be, to be locked away from all human communication.
Mike is wonderful in the love
department. He is still able to let us know he loves us because he can still
smile. When we tell him how much we care for him and ask if he loves us he
breaks out with a bright wonderful smile. When awake he still loves jokes
and waits for his friends to come and talk, and save them for him. In fact
he will chuckle for awhile afterward at the happy time. He sleeps almost
constantly now and will soon go into a coma never to awake again.
We are terrible hurt by people
who are kind but destructive to Mike. Mike has so little control over his
body and life and some refuse to allow him what little he has left. This is
a blow to what faith he still in himself as a man. They talk about him and
around him, rather than to him. They no longer treat him as a man and they
give him no choices, he has so few.
We allow him to decide when to
bathe and brush his teeth. If he wants to sit up in his wheel chair or lie
down on the pallet and we always allow him to make as many decisions as
possible. This is difficult, for we could understand his wants and needs
much better several months ago when we devised a system of squeezes of hand
for yes or no. Now Mike will smile for yes and will not respond for no. It
is terrible hard to communicate and to know his wants.
The children, Oh, the children,
they watch their father die. Michelle is in the first grade. The class was
told to draw a picture of their family. Some drew pictures with a father
that works and a mother at home. Some with one parent only. Some with both a
mother and father who both work. Michelle drew both her mother and father at
home, her father in a wheel chair. They are so realistic.
Ryan resents the fact that his
dad can no longer wrestle and play with him, and so for a while hooks onto
any male in the family who is nearest. He hits everybody, taking out his
anger at a world that takes his father from him. Michelle treats Mike as
always. She lays in his arms, kisses his cheek and tells him of her day at
school. If only adults could follow the instincts of children. Both will be
defeated for a time when their dad is gone. Michelle in particular for he
always told her how beautiful she was, what a wonderful girl she is, and
called her his princes, she will miss him so.
Wives don't cope easily either,
sometimes Chris cries for hours and then she again takes control. She misses
so the closeness of her and Mikes relationship. She misses the person she
could tell her most secret desires and thoughts. She misses someone to hold
her. She has become both father and mother. This is not such a task, but at
the same time she has become the decision maker in all matters. The payer of
bills, consultant with nurses and doctors, and at the same time copes with
the beast that roams her home, living with the prospect of death every day
and seeing it take him so slowly.
She would not move Mike to a
nursing home as long as he could understand anything. She loves him and
wants him near her and the children. Sometimes she must leave for a visit
with friends for a day or two, just to get the world back in perspective.
Dying is hard to live with.
How do we cope? Chris' answer
"No one gave me a choice." Wouldn't you like to run away? Of course,
everyone would like to run away from their problems, but I love and care for
Mike and the children and I cannot leave them. She holds his hand and tells
him how much she loves him but can't stay long for she dissolves into tears.
What do you talk about to Mike
when he can't talk back. We tell of our days and how much we love him. We
bring in diversions, a new puppy or kitten, a bright balloon or a new cap or
Sometimes I have to stop
thinking for there are books in Mikes
eyes. I can look into them and
see the questions and the suffering, and the wonder about what is happening
I especially have a time with
the tears... sometimes they just run out the corners of his eyes and mine
too. Yes I cry, sometimes I find myself crying at the stupidest, simplest
things and then I find I am crying for Mike. Sometimes I feel like crying
and can't I hurt too much. I want too much for things to be different.
I ask why too much. I have hated
this beast but now I have begun to find it familiar, we have lived with it
so long. lt has become a familiar face to live with in this house.
How does this end. Eventually in
death, my only comfort is something one of my friends told me. Sometimes the
ultimate healing from God is death. Go away beast you are not a welcome
Our beloved Michel died February
2, 1988. Age 36 years