My name is Michael Romero. This is a story about my fiancé, Gayla Albers. She died April 2011. She was 39 years old.
Gayla and I met in October 2009 and became a couple six months later. By the time we met, Gayla had suffered from innumerable medical conditions, many of which began after she survived a head on collision in 1993, while six months pregnant. She actually died then too, once at the scene and again on the operating table.
The car accident collapsed both of Gayla’s lungs, crushed her sternum, severed her aorta (which lead to a history of heart attacks and strokes) and fractured her right leg. She had surgery to repair her aorta, but due to her pregnancy, the surgeons had to go in from her back. The surgery caused muscle and nerve damage in both of her legs. She would remain in a coma for another six weeks before waking up again. Gayla was told that she would never walk again and that her baby, if she survived, would be born severely brain damaged. She did walk and her baby Marissa was born healthy.
Her problems with hormones began in the years that followed. She had a thyroid condition and was given medications for that. After she gave birth to her first two kids, Gayla was put on oral contraceptives. But, while on birth control she became pregnant again. After giving birth to her third child, she was then put on a different birth control. But again, she became pregnant. After the birth of her fourth child, they had the birth control implant put in her arm. But, yet again she became pregnant. Now, having had five kids, she had had it, and just had her tubes tied. But, she still got pregnant again, only this time she had a miscarriage. That was about one and a half years before we got together. Specific female health conditions were never diagnosed, but I had suspected some, and thought that they may have been caused by her earlier accident. I had brought it up to her physicians, but they never looked into it.
Gayla was on so many medications for so many different conditions, it’s hard to know whether her symptoms, the abdominal and lower back pain, were related to the car accident years earlier or to the female problems she complained of, (she had all the signs of early menopause), the multiple pregnancies or whether they were side effects of the medications themselves.
By the time we met, her kidneys were shutting down. This led to her to having to be on a constant supply of antibiotics. This just added to the already very long list of daily medications, morphine pump, and the nerve stimulator that was surgically implanted into her body.
Gayla had/been diagnosed with:
• Permanent Muscle and Nerve Damage in Both Legs
• Chronic Seizures
• Chronic Kidney Failure
• Chronic Constipation
• Mild Depression
• Clinical Insomnia
There was debate about her treatment. I was pleading with the doctors just to admit Gayla to the hospital and wean her off all her meds, so we could tell if the meds were having an adverse effect on her, if combinations thereof were causing additional issues, or if there were underlying conditions that were otherwise worsening. The amount of medications she was put on was truly astonishing.
Gayla was taking:
• Oxybutynine Chloride (for weak bladder muscles)
• Amytriptyline (for depression)
• Baclofen (to relax her muscles)
• Gabapentin (to block nerves to alleviate pain)
• Oral and Pump-Induced Morphine (for pain)
• Lortab (for pain, but which she only if the pain was extremely bad)
• Diazapam (for sleep disorder)
• Anti-Seizure Meds
From what Gayla told me, her doctors were quick at determining her diagnoses and treatments. Most of this was determined largely before I had even come into the picture. But I had concerns and pressed the doctors to do more or less- take her off some of the meds. They wouldn’t.
I’m telling Gayla’s story, here on Lucine’s blog, because I don’t want others to suffer the way she did. She had major medical conditions, many caused by the accident, but many others, maybe not. I think there were too many other things going on, related to her hormones, the pregnancies, the thyroid, the abdominal pain that were not taken seriously, but just medicated. What if some of these problems could have been treated differently, would she still be here today?
Gayla Jeanne Albers was such a major influence on my life as well as in that of many others’. Her outstanding strength, courage and determination will remain an inspiration to us all forever. She faced many obstacles in her life, yet she never forgot how to smile, laugh, and enjoy life. Her very presence bestowed upon us all a magnificent glow that will always be admired and cherished.
Gayla, I want to deeply thank you for giving me a lifetime of happiness in such a short amount of time. Only someone with your spirit could accomplish such a feat. You will always be in my heart, my thoughts, and my prayers. God Bless you baby. I love you so much and will miss you more than you can ever imagine. TO INFINITY & BACK, FOREVER & ALWAYS.