But in early 1993, something changed. David's cough
was growing louder and deeper. His face would turn purple and
the veins in his neck would protrude. One afternoon, a nurse named
Dana Thompson dropped by to see them. Kim was watching a soap
opera while David sat quietly in his chair. Dana noticed that
David didn't tease her the way he usually did. He just kept staring
at one of the actors on TV.
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David tried to assure Kim that there was nothing to worry about but he didn't tell her what the doctor had said after a recent check up. The disease, which had been mostly dormant, had unexpectedly ambushed him. His lungs were becoming stiff with scar tissue. His bronchial lubes were closing up. His heart was not pumping enough oxygenated blood. If the assault continued, David would lose more and more oxygen and slowly start choking to death.
It was a race against time. David said he would not waste a single
moment: In July, to celebrate their birthdays, David's twenty-sixth,
Kim's twenty-fourth, he insisted that they take the week-long
Florida vacation that they had always talked about.
Three months later, David and Kim went to see Dr. Kramer for a checkup.
While Kim waited in another room, Dr. Kramer studied David's
oxygen levels. David couldn't say more than two or three words
without needing to take a breath.
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Dr. Kramer walked across the hall to tell her. After
a long silence, she asked if David could go home for
one more night, back to their little one-bedroom apartment,
where she could cook him a meal. When Dr. Kramer softly
said no, Kim dropped her head and tried not to cry.
David was admitted to the hospital on the afternoon of Wednesday, October 21. Throughout the ordeal, Kim sat by David's side. By Monday, David's lips and fingernails were turning blue, and nurses had put an oxygen mask over his face. When they brought in a morphine machine to relieve some of the pain, Kim knew it was over.
"David, not yet." She said, but he was
unable to speak.
He died at 5.50 a.m. on October 26. Kim was the only one in the room.
She wiped off his face with a tissue and then called for the nurse.
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