Written by Susan Short (Mother)
Tuesday, 16 June 2009 06:16
Cody.Katrina - Susan Short (Mother)
Approx Aug 16, 2004
Cody called today while I was at work. He left a message at home with Jim, telling me to call him as soon as possible, that it was important.
When I finally got to call him, he told me he was in the hospital once again, this time he had Meningitis. The doctors were working on him around the clock to keep his fever down and to keep his pain and headaches under control. The doctors were going to put in what they call a pick line through his arm directly into his heart. They would deliver medicine to him that way. He said the medicine had a tendency to break down veins and the heart being muscle would not break down as much. He would need to take medicine this way for a couple of weeks.
Within the next few days we spoke often. I talked with Dr. Hadderly, who was his doctor and he told me that Cody had been through some rough days. His fever had run around 106 & 107. They had packed him in ice and cooling blankets. They had to do spinal taps on him to relieve the water and pressure on his brain. This went on numerous time within the next 48 hours. Finally the day came that he said the spinal taps were getting farther and farther apart. His fever was breaking and he was only having around 102 fevers. He seemed to be getting better physically and mentally. By Saturday, he seemed to be getting better.
Sunday Aug 28, 2005
That weekend, I had taken Crystal to Studio City to a casting call for America's Next Top Model. I had woke up Sunday morning in the Motel and jumped into the shower. When I came out Crystal had been watching the news and Hurricane Katrina had crossed Florida and hit the gulf waters and had escalated into a category 5 hurricane and was heading for New Orleans. I got right on the phone and called Cody at the hospital. He felt things would be ok. I could only trust his judgement and knew he was still quite ill. I believe they removed all medications and pick line a couple of days early because of the coming disaster. Little did they know how big a disaster it would turn out to be, and he was probably safest in the hospital where he could get trained medical help.
Cody had been better the last couple of days and was ok, but not really out of the woods yet. I started asking him about the hurricane and what precautions they were taking. New Orleans was being evacuated as quickly as they could, and the hospital had evacuated some patients out, but the rest were going to stay. He was not to be evacuated and reassured me that he would be fine. He said that they had removed his IV and pick line and would receive the rest of his medicine in pill form. I guess they thought he would be fine with only a couple of days left of his two week treatment. He did not feel he was ill enough anymore to be evacuated, and would ride out the storm.
He felt confident that he would be ok on the 9th floor and that the building was an old building that had withstood many storms. Even if there was to be a storm surge, they would be ok because they were moving everyone to the top floors. Since he was in the hospital I felt that he would be in a good spot for time being. I told him I would call him Monday morning and see how he was doing at that time. Katrina was not to be hitting them until then. That's when I started watching TV. We drove home Sunday night and I constantly watched the news to see how bad things were being predicted. It looked bad and kept getting worse. Over night Katrina would hit and I would see in the morning how things were.
Monday morning came and went, Katrina had hit. Phones were down for some reason during Monday and part of Tuesday. I was glued to the TV and watched in horror. It just kept getting worse. By Monday night the hurricane had passed and the devastation started to be apparent. Tuesday the horror started setting in. Setting in my home, I could only feel despair with what they were all beginning to go through, knowing my son was in the middle of it all. I finally got through on Tuesday afternoon to Charity Hospital and spoke with my son. Without power they had no TV and with his illness and medications, he had no clue what was really happening around him. I spoke with him for awhile, I tried to convey the state of emergency New Orleans was in, however he couldn't grasp it. I told him to keep me informed of what was going on there since the phones were working and said I would talk to him on Wednesday. I had returned from southern California and was preparing to drive to northern California to see my mom before school started here. I watched every news channel we have, over and over again. The death and destruction was unimaginable to me. I could not believe what they were all going through there and as a mother, I could not help make it better. It seemed hopeless and I was helpless.
I Talked with Cody on Wednesday after being horrified by what I saw on tv and tried to again tell him that New Orleans had be fatally wounded as tactfully as I could. I knew from talking with him what a fragile state he was in, just escaping death from a illness, and being close to death again from a natural disaster and the humans around him. Being in the hospital there he was removed from reality, which at that point was not all that bad. I told him I was driving to Grandmas and I would call as soon as I arrived. He said that they had just walked in and told him to get his stuff together that he was to be evacuated immediately. We got off the phone, Cody assuring me he would let me know where he ended up, and I continued to be glued to the tv I felt a little better knowing they were evacuating them so quickly after the hurricane hit, and he said things were not horrific there yet. I couldn't explain the pain the city was in, and he couldn't tell being isolated there at the hospital.
The next morning I drove for 8 hours to my mothers house in Northern California. When I arrived that afternoon, my mom met me at the door and asked what hospital Cody was in. I told her Charity Hospital. She said you might want to watch this. This is where I lost track of Cody for the next four days.
It seems that Charity Hospital was one of the big problem areas because no one was able to get in and evacuate the patients due to snipers, water, etc. The media had reported that there were snipers shooting at the helicopters as they tried to evacuate, and people were dying in the roof while waiting for someone to come. There were reports of a hostage situation in the hospital. I am not sure what was real or not, but at the time it was all I knew. Charity hospital became a big focal point for the news media. I tried calling the phone number that we had just talked on the day before and was unable to get anyone. The phone rang and rang but no one answered. I was not sure what was going on, however, the day before Cody and said he was being evacuated at noon and I had not heard from him since then. I thought he had been evacuated, but the more I watched the news, the more I felt he had not left the hospital when we had last talked, and with his last illness being as severe an illness as meningitis, I began to feel panic. I really felt lost at that point. You start thinking so many things, like how can I help, how can I find my son. What can I do? Maybe I should drive over there and get him. As though anyone could even drive into New Orleans.
I went to sleep late that Thursday night after sitting all day watching a city die, unable to walk away from the publicity and slept fitfully, unable to stop seeing all the death and destruction that was occurring, knowing full well that Cody was in the middle of it, if he were even still alive.
I started watching the news constantly, changing from one station to another, trying to get a glimpse of anything concerning Charity hospital. None of it was good. All I could find was how the patients were beginning to die and bodies were being stored in the stairwells for a make shift morgue. They had no food or water, and how they broadcasted help numbers all over the air for family members to call to get information. I started writing them down and began calling everyone I could get. Of course I could not get through any phone lines and the website really had no information on individuals at that point, being they were just getting up and running.
New Orleans began its death gurgle. I did not want anyone to be going through what they were going through, let alone my son also. After watching a small part of New York die on 9/11 all the emotions came flooding back, leaving me feeling useless, alone and not able to help protect those who could not help protect themselves. I had been to New Orleans in April for a brief 24 hours while Cody had been almost killed in the Toulane Emergency Room by being given a combination of drugs he was allergic to. I saw a small part of the City from the airport to the hospital and back, and surrounding the hospital. It was beautiful, and I had wanted to go back but from what I was hearing and seeing on TV there was nothing to go back to, it was all gone. What a waste. It had such charm and character.
I could not talk with Cody to make sure he was alright and from what the media was telling me I felt that no one could be ok there, not even Cody. With Meningitis they have unusually high fevers and can not control them without packing them in ice and using cooling blankets. They did not have electricity, water, ice, etc. How could he be surviving?
By Thursday night, they aired a special on TV concerning Charity Hospital and the people still trapped there and the horrible conditions there. I knew he had not left, a mothers intuition I guess, but I knew he was still there.
I woke up the next morning early, and began watching the news. I started calling the Red Cross numbers and finally someone answered. They were unable to tell me anything, but they did take my information in case they found him and could contact me. As this whole scenario had started unfolding, a friend of Cody's, who had my phone number, contacted me at home concerned about Cody's conditions and the coming hurricane. He kept in touch with me by phone or email through the whole ordeal and was a big comfort through the whole thing. He boosted my hope and spirits many times through the next four days.
Late that day, I finally logged onto the Red Cross web site and posted Cody as missing. It was a hard thing to do after watching the death toll rise quickly everyday. All I could do was wait. They say no news is good news, however, we all knew that no good news could come out of the city that was dying. I tried to turn the TV off, or leave the room or house to try to get away from all the horror that was being broadcast on the news. All life went on everywhere else, as though not much had happened. My mom did not have web access at her house so I had to drive 10 minutes into town and sit at a coffee shop to go online. They all talked of the disaster, but I felt they were detached and could not see that anyone had ties to it like I did. It was hard to even go to public places where people were enjoying themselves and had all their creature comforts around them, while people were being beaten to death, raped or dying from other problems that this interruption to life had caused. It was a waiting game now.
I kept calling my husband who had stayed at home due to work. I made him go home and check the phone constantly to see if Cody had called or someone had called. I knew he would have to call collect because he told me he had lost everything at the hospital. I was not home to take a collect call therefore no message would be left. I was ready to leave for home just to be near the phone the next day. That night I made my husband check the numbers that had called the house through caller ID. A number showed up that I was not familiar with, however I could not get through to that number. I called Cody's half sister and asked her to call their dad to see if they had heard from him. She said she would, but they usually did not answer their phone and were gone from the house a lot. She would get back to me when she heard from them.
Again, you go to bed exhausted, with a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, but know you need sleep. The news channels were no help.
The next morning, Missy, Cody's half sister called me. She talked with her father and they had received a collect call from Cody. He was in Birmingham, Alabama in a hospital there. Finally, there was news, I called immediately. He was not in good spirits, safe, but depressed. He cried, and said he just wanted to come home. I cried, my mom cried. I decided that I would fly him home as soon as he could travel. Being a 26 year old, with ties to New Orleans, he did not want to come home.
After some time on the phone, and making sure he was alright, he told me how to access his website. He asked me to post on his website that he was ok and where he was. I posted to his website and began receiving emails from many of his friends. They were all relieved, and so caring. They continued to email me to keep up with Cody's situation until he was able to go online and start catching up with everyone.
He had not left the hospital when we last talked on that Wednesday after Katrina had hit. He left it a couple of days later after a couple of attempts, then spent two days at the airport/triage area before being flown out. A day or two in Birmingham left him in sort of good condition, and all he wanted to do was leave the hospital. His friend Adam, that had been in touch with me through the whole ordeal offered him a place to go and to help him with his recovery. He got on the next plane and flew to Orlando where he spent the next couple of months recouping before returning to New Orleans. And that is another story.