I woke up alone this morning. For twenty one mornings I have woken up alone. The man who kept me warm at night, the man who turned me on, is temporarily turned off.
Days and nights are no longer the same — not remotely. This adjustment is difficult. Nothing good speaks from my gut wrenching loss. Much good, however, attends the temporary status of this loss.
Lose Jim Glennie forever. . . . Not on your life! Or his. Or mine. My husband, the man who held me and gave me an impassioned kiss each morning on his way to work, now lies protected in a well-secured dewar with the Alcor Life Extension Foundation. Today’s technology sheds a bright light on the very realistic possibilities of tomorrow’s technology. Those who “check it out” can share in the wonderful vision of rejoining loved ones in a future bearing abundance of both time and resources. Time enough for love; time enough to live.
I remained with Jim throughout his suspension. When Jim is reanimated he will hear a first hand report directly from the one who cares most.
Jim received his diagnosis of a brain tumor on Tuesday evening, August 20, 1991, at 10:30 p.m. By Wednesday his friends, family, and co-workers were filling his hospital room with love and support. His mother flew in from Lewiston, New York; his sister flew in from Brookfield, Wisconsin. Jim knew he was well-loved. On Thursday morning he underwent a craniotomy — brain surgery. The news was all bad. It was a bad tumor in a bad location — and fatal. A glioblastoma multiforme deals its victims a median life-span from diagnosis of ten months. By September Jim had completed his sign-up papers for neurosuspension with the Alcor Life Extension Foundation. We would pay for it with his company life insurance policy and his IRA.
During the next ten months we engaged in love therapy, radiation therapy, radio-immuno therapy, massage therapy, nutritional therapy, supplement therapy, color therapy, light therapy, psychic therapy, sister therapy, condriana therapy (not recommended), psychotherapy, and hot springs therapy. Jim’s quality of life soared high. Jim knew he was well-loved.
By mid-March Jim strode enthusiastically into his fifth MRI. He felt great. I felt great. The MRI failed to support our excitement. Instead, it revealed pictures of an uncooperative brain tumor. Another MRI six weeks later confirmed rapid and accelerating growth.
Alcor personnel were on alert. Our every location was monitored. These Alcor individuals took preparedness seriously. Every possible precaution permeated their standby alert policy. We began a month of “wish list” travels. This included a week in New York. Alcor New York knows how to nurture. We knew they were keeping tabs on us. Such caring watchfulness we will never forget. Our trips to the Bahamas and Brazil included a stopover in Miami, Florida. Local Alcor members kept alert. An air medical transport firm held our “out of country” schedule. Jim and I knew that Alcor was determined to catch him in time.
The symptoms I never wanted to see began to appear. We followed our travels with more travels. We proceeded directly to Seattle, Washington, to spend loving moments with both of our families. Jim’s brother, Gordon, occupied the focus of our visit. Again, Jim knew he was well-loved. Again, Alcor kept on alert.
From Seattle we headed to Glenwood Springs, the largest hot springs in the world. It was also a five-hour drive from home. Jim’s mother and sister joined us. We carried the man we loved through the healing waters. This was Jim’s favorite therapy. Day after day we held Jim close as he felt the Colorado sun bathing his well-supported body in the soothing hot springs. Jim’s close friend, Craig, made a special trip to Glenwood Springs to hold, carry and comfort him in the waters under the Sun. Jim loved loving and being loved. Jim loved living.
Alcor continued monitoring Jim’s condition. He became weaker. His symptoms worsened. But always Jim held on to his basic self. Jim maintained his identity, his personality, his relationships.
On Sunday, June 21, we returned home to Fort Collins. On Monday afternoon a Hospice nurse came out to initiate in-home care.
Sunday, August 9, 1992
It has been difficult to return to this article. When I go to bed, Jim is not here. When I get up, Jim is not here. When I go to a movie, Jim is not here. When I walk, Jim is not here.
During a routine interview and checkup the Hospice nurse discovered that Jim’s breathing yielded an inadequate supply of oxygen to his lungs. She consulted with Jim’s doctor. Both recommended a short visit to the hospital to clear up a possible lung infection.
Jim underwent several tests. By Tuesday afternoon a diagnosis of both bacterial and infectious pneumonia gave Jim little chance of making it through the night. Alcor’s Tanya Jones was already en route to Fort Collins to be on standby and assess the situation. Alcor was notified of the immediate urgency. Three additional transport team members (Carlos Mondragon, Keith Henson, and Mike Darwin) caught red-eye flights and arrived in the middle of the night. Tanya and Mike Darwin had just completed an inspection visit two weeks earlier. Jim and I were quite certain we wouldn’t see them again for quite some time.
In fact, we were celebrating the positive announcement of a genetic protocol that held a good chance of a possible cure for gliomas — only the FDA had not yet granted its withdrawal of coercion.
Love continued to surround Jim. Had you known him, I suspect you would have been a part of that love. His friends massaged his arms, hands, legs, and feet. Simultaneously, Jim received both emotional support and physical support. Our goal was to overwhelm his physical sensations with the pleasure of massage. He loved it.
Meanwhile, Jim received telephone loving from his family and friends. He maintained his awareness of self and relationships.
I had fallen asleep. I was lying beside Jim in his hospital bed. Jim’s breathing suddenly slowed. His change alerted me. I pressed the call button. No one came. I called out — several times. I remember feeling shocked that our room wasn’t being closely monitored. Eventually a friend came in, understood the situation, went out and summoned the transport team and the hospital nurse. She quickly confirmed that Jim’s time was close and literally ran to get the doctor who had been standing by to legally pronounce. He arrived. Within seconds Jim brought in his last unassisted breath.
Alcor’s transport team had kept the ice bath prepared in a room across the hall. By the time of pronouncement they had brought it in alongside Jim’s bed. With trained speed they transferred Jim to the ice bath, attached the heart-lung resuscitator, injected the support supplements, and placed an oxygen mask over his nose and mouth.
Jim’s time of deanimation reads as Wednesday, June 24, 1992, 2:16 p.m. Earlier that morning I had assured him I would be there when he woke up in the future — that for him it would seem as nothing more than falling asleep — and then waking up to the company of the best — fellow cryonicists, of course.
Jim’s ambulance ride to the future had begun. Right now I miss him. Right now he is not here. Every day I am thankful to the tiny handful of far-seeing individuals who, in the process of doing whatever it took to save their own lives, have saved my husband’s life. My chances of being with Jim again appear quite reasonable.
More on Jim’s Journey . . . .
by Tanya Jones
Photos by Mary Margaret Glennie
When I arrived at the hospital in Fort Collins, I immediately headed for Jim’s room, pausing only to put on a lab coat and my Alcor identification badge. A nurse pointed me in the right direction, and I opened the door to find a whole crowd of people in his room. I was seeing Jim’s massage therapy in action. I’m almost certain that no hospital room in history had seen a harem like the one gathered in Jim’s room that night. At one point, I remember Mary Margaret raising Jim’s bed vertically, so that he gave the appearance of a king holding court.
Jim, enjoying his massage but undistracted by it, was in the middle of writing a letter when I entered the room. He immediately tried to reach out his hand to greet me. He smiled happily and called out my name. It was the fact that he was blatantly delighted to see me that helped to quell some of my nervousness at being the only Alcor team member on site. I think that some of the people in the room were amazed to see Jim happy seeing me, because of what I represented to them. The only reason I was in Colorado was because Jim was going to die. They didn’t know that Jim was happy to see me because he and I had hit it off when Mike Darwin and I did our reconnaissance.
When Mike and I were in Fort Collins two weeks earlier (to the day), we were both beat, due to the recent (and only beginning) rash of suspensions. At one point during our visit, Mary Margaret had to run some errands, so Mike, Jim, and I were left together at Jim’s home. Mike stayed inside, trying to get some rest. Jim and I sat outside in his ‘Love Lounge’ and talked. We talked about how he and Mary Margaret met, how Ralph and I met, about the construction going on around his house, and a lot of little things. His speech was slightly slurred, and it was slow, but we weren’t in a rush to get things said. We even took a walk around the garden and he showed off the forest he was persuading to grow. It was a very nice time. I am very glad I had the opportunity to get to know him, even just a little, before we had to freeze him.
I think it was the time we spent talking two weeks earlier that made Jim happy to see me. Seeing him smile made me happy to see him. A little of the love that Jim accumulated was extended in my direction.
We talked for a very brief while, and I asked him to finish his letter (granted, it was unreadable) while I borrowed Mary Margaret for a moment. She and I stepped into the hall, and she gave me an update on Jim’s condition. I then excused myself to find the mortuary and locate all of the transport equipment and start setting things up. All told, I got lost three times (during the entire transport) trying to find the mortuary, which was on the corner of an intersection of one-way streets. Even when I visually located the place, I couldn’t get to it without driving the streets for a few more moments trying to find an access. Later, I found the back entrance, which was easier to reach.
When I reached the mortuary, I rang the doorbell and was met by Milo Bohlender. He was a pleasant man who was more than willing to help. He gave me a tour of his operation and showed me where our gear was stored. I then began unpacking some of the boxes to take to the hospital. I took transport medications, the portable ice bath (PIB), oxygen cylinders (which had been specially ordered/delivered that day), and lots of odds and ends. Milo remained pleasant throughout the night, even at 3:00 a.m. when I rang his doorbell after discovering the baseplate to the PIB wasn’t in the box I’d thought it was in. I absolutely had to have the baseplate; without it, the PIB was unusable.
Some time during my three trips between the hospital and the mortuary, Jim took a turn for the worse. I called the lab to find out when the rest of the team was going to arrive, and found that they would probably be arriving too late, given the most recent reports of Jim’s condition. In fact, Ralph told me that they (Mike, Carlos, and Keith) were in San Francisco and were considering not coming, on account of some new developments in Boston. I didn’t panic, although I really wanted to, as I realized that if the rest of the team wasn’t coming, I would be performing a transport and washout single handedly! Granted, Milo was willing to assist with the cutdown, but what about the rest?
In an attempt to reassure me, Ralph said that he’d do what he could to emphasize Jim’s precarious condition to Mike and the others, but they were out of pager range, and he had to wait for them to call him. (I had the only country-wide pager.)
I then went to Mary Margaret and told her my dilemma. She went to the floor nurses, and a course of care was implemented that would hopefully keep Jim alive through the night.
During all of this, I was setting up the transport equipment in a room across the hall. I was constantly answering questions, informing the hospital staff and all of Jim’s friends about what cryonics was, what I hoped to achieve, and more immediately, what I was going to do for Jim. Some of them graciously offered to help. Two men even went out and picked up 100 pounds of ice (reimbursed). I was planning out training sessions for those with nursing experience who offered their assistance, when I called the lab once more. This time, Ralph lifted the very heavy weight of single-handed transport (with washout) from my shoulders. He told me that Mike, Carlos, and Keith were on their way and their plane was due to land in Denver at 3:00 a.m. or so. That put them in Fort Collins around 5:00 a.m. (I might have the times off, I’m not sure anymore. Besides, I always lose all sense of time during a suspension.)
Finally, seven hours after I’d arrived at the door to Jim’s room, things were ready. The nursing staff on duty were very much informed about what was going to happen, Jim’s friends knew (even if they didn’t approve), and everything was as ready as I could make it. I knew that a few things weren’t perfect, (now I was missing the baseplate to the HLR, so I duct-taped it in place, hoping that the tape was strong enough to handle it) but there was nothing left to do. That’s when a nurse showed me to a deserted waiting room down the hall, and I sat down to get some sleep. It was now around 5:00 a.m. (given my previous recollection of the timetable), and the rest of the team showed up not five minutes after I shut my eyes.
That led to a round of situational briefings, tours, and introductions which lasted a few more hours. They had brought the HLR baseplate with them, so that problem was remedied. Beyond Mike taking the time to inspect the set-up, there wasn’t a whole lot for anyone to do, except sit around and chat. Carlos browsed cat magazines. I drank a lot of coffee. We all waited for Jim. We all kept talking to the friends and the hospital staff. Very little beyond good-will, pure and simple, was expressed to us. Everyone was very interested (hospital personnel especially) in cryonics. We handed out all of the literature that I’d brought. The air was free of most tensions, and finally I got an hour or so of sleep while the others took turns talking.
Jim lasted the night and a substantial portion of the next day as well. At approximately 2:10 p.m., we were summoned to Jim’s room (we were getting some rest in a nearby lounge). The resident who was to pronounce for us had been lingering on the floor and (as I recall) even neglecting other duties to be on hand at the exact moment when he was needed. I’d spent at least an hour talking with him during the day, explaining the transport protocol, and course of care that we would be providing. He, and all of the floor personnel, were very sympathetic and helpful.
When the time came, we were able to move the PIB into Jim’s room and place it parallel to his hospital bed. The Nursing Supervisor was on hand to assist us with security measures related to keeping the curious out of our way and getting us to the loading docks where the mortuary vehicle awaited. In my mind, the most important thing she did for us, however, was to turn on the lights. The curtains in Jim’s room were drawn and the lights were out, as Jim and Mary Margaret had been resting when Jim began to arrest. I remember the relief I felt, when in the middle of administering the transport medications, I was suddenly bathed in white light and could finally see what I was doing without straining my eyes (which are bad enough as it is).
As we rushed Jim out of the room, I remember being dismayed at the mess we’d made in our haste to do things right. Almost the entire floor of the room was covered in water. The bags of ice had been sitting in the PIB for over twelve hours, and they melted somewhat during that time. Every time we opened a new bag, another wave of water spilled to the floor. One of the nurses chuckled slightly when I mentioned mopping it up quickly. She told me that there were custodians who take care of that sort of thing.
Milo was waiting downstairs at the loading docks. His van was parked nearby, but we had to roll Jim along an incline and lift him into the vehicle. This isn’t something I recommend, if you can avoid it. Jim was a big man, and many pounds of ice didn’t help matters.
Approximately eighteen minutes later we were at the mortuary. A service was just letting out as we arrived, and there were many people staring curiously at the van as we pulled up and began the preparations for off-loading. With the privacy cover on the PIB, there was nothing for them to see, which made them even more curious, I suspect. When it is running, the HLR makes a distinctively loud thumping noise (hence the nickname: Thumper) which can draw a lot of attention.
Jim was brought into the prep room, and Keith prepared the Viaspan while Mike and I began the femoral cutdown. Carlos was primarily unpacking boxes and locating equipment we’d need. Mary Margaret had accompanied us to the mortuary and was observing everything and taking pictures for the archives. A few of Jim’s friends were also standing nearby, and because the team members had enough to do, Mary Margaret and the others were drafted to hold Jim’s oxygen mask in place. Taping it had previously been unsuccessful.
Shortly after arriving at the mortician’s facility in Fort Collins, Mike Darwin and Tanya Jones begin cannulation of the femoral artery and vein while Keith Henson and Carlos Mondragon hold directional lights to improve the abysmal lighting.
A shot from the front: Keith, Mike, and Tanya struggle with inadequate equipment.
While Mike makes final checks on the cannulation, Keith checks the field blood pump setup.
The femoral cutdown proceeded with a few complications. When Mike attempted to cannulate the vein, there was some kind of obstruction preventing us from feeding the cannula more than a quarter-inch into the vein. We tried a smaller cannula, but were unable to place it either. Earlier, in his attempts to dissect the vein from the surrounding tissue, Mike nicked the vein, so our situation wasn’t aided by the fact that we were working in a pool of blood. Complicating matters as well was the fact that the only direct lighting we had was from the headlamps we carry in the remote standby kit. These lights were incapable of providing the light we needed. (In the future, a portable operating room light will be included in the equipment shipped to a remote transport site.)
Due to our inability to cannulate the vein, we were unable to put Jim on bypass. The best we could hope to do was cannulate the artery and flush the Viaspan through his circulatory system, without recirculating it. This was how we proceeded. Cannulating the artery went without complications, a fact which relieved us all. The flush brought Jim’s temperature to 20.8°C, which was much higher than we ever like to see, but by the time we loaded him into the shipping box and packed him securely in ice, his temperature had dropped to 11.2°C.
While we were performing the cutdown, Milo was making airline reservations for all of us. He was also preparing the disposition paperwork that we needed to carry Jim out of the state. After the arrangements were in place, and Jim was ready for the flight, I went in to settle the bill. I now know that most mortuaries don’t take American Express, and very few of them take any kind of credit card at all! Milo was set up to take Visa, so we didn’t have to wait to settle our bill.
It was now after 8:00 p.m. Jim wasn’t flying out until the next morning, but Carlos, Keith, and I had tickets on the red-eye into Ontario. We rushed to clean up the mortuary and re-pack all of the transport gear for shipment. The two hour drive to Denver had the potential to make us miss the flight, but the freeways of Colorado are the emptiest freeways I’ve ever seen, and we made it to the airport with time to spare.
Mary Margaret and Mike were scheduled to accompany Jim to Ontario the next morning, so on our way to the airport, we dropped Mike at a hotel to get some sleep. Mary Margaret had gone home, to face her first night without Jim.
All I could think about on the flight home was how much I wanted some sleep. I’ve never been able to sleep on an airplane, and I used to think that if I was tired enough, that would change. It didn’t. We arrived after midnight and went home to get that much-coveted rest.
The next morning, Jim arrived. By 2:30 p.m. on June 25th, his temperature had lowered to 1.6°C. A short while later, Mike and I scrubbed in to open the burrhole. Jim had a permanent burrhole due to his previous operations, and in opening it up, we were pleasantly surprised to find that his brain had receded 1-2mm. This was a good sign, as it meant that there was probably little of the edema (swelling) we’d feared as the result of a flush rather than a full bypass.
Ralph, Charles Platt, and Mary Margaret Glennie have just arrived at the Alcor facility from picking up Jim Glennie at the airport. Dan Spitzer (left) strikes a dynamic pose; Keith and Charles assist from inside the van; Ralph, Carlos (obscured by Ralph), and Hugh (t-shirt) fill out the picture.
A conglomeration of cryonicists. Keith and Ralph (standing, left) and Dan Spitzer (sitting, left) stand at the perfusionists’ post, while several others encircle the ongoing open-heart procedure.
Mike Darwin begins the burr-hole proceedings, with nancy McEachern (left) and Tanya Jones looking on.
By 5:13 p.m., the contract surgeon had arrived and was preparing to perform the median sternotomy (open-heart surgery). An hour and a half later, the perfusion ramp was begun. The median sternotomy proceeded without complications. Shortly thereafter, we observed than Jim’s brain had receded a little bit more, and by our crude measurement methods (depending on whose eye was being used) was 3mm back from the burrhole opening.
As with many of the patients who receive solid transports, there was some leakage through the burrhole. This is speculated to be the result of replacing the blood with colorless Viaspan, so that when the burrhole is opened, there is invariably accidental severing of some of the tiny vessels lining the dura, vessels which cannot be seen when they have clear solution running through them.
By 9:29 p.m., perfusion was complete, and the cephalic isolation began. Mary Margaret observed every aspect of Jim’s suspension. It is a strong person who can watch her well-loved husband’s chest opened, while taking photographs of same.
By the end of the perfusion ramp — which achieved 6.02 Molar glycerol, our best ever — Mike and I were already at the airport waiting for our plane to Boston. Mike panicked somewhat at the end of our participation in Jim’s suspension, as he was unwilling to depart until the perfusion was complete. But the perfusion timetable was in direct conflict with the fight schedule to Boston. Boston won out. We caught the red-eye and began the preparations for what was to become the longest and remotest stand-by ever.
Jim Glennie, however, was already on his way. “Tomorrow” he’ll awaken to have Mary Margaret tell him all about his suspension, show him all the pictures (most of which she took herself), and give him a great big hug to remind him of the love they share, and begin to rekindle it anew.