Death of Juli 1997

Julianne Marie Doggett (Juli) 

Born 5 December 1979, Died 18 August 1997

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Seven Weeks of Trauma & Challenges Before Death

Kidney Failure

Juli with friend on steps of her house at King’s Daughters

July 1, 1997 – I had given permission for Juli’s caretakers at King’s Daughter School in Columbia, TN  (45-60 minutes south of Nashville) to take her to see a local urologist because of her swollen feet, often attributed to urinary tract infections. One of his actions was to send a blood sample and urine sample to the lab for analysis that night.

July 2, 1997 – First thing this morning the doctor calls the school to say he has seen the blood analysis and that they must take or send Juli to the Columbia Hospital Emergency Room immediately. She has complete kidney failure. Of course the school calls me at my office at like 7:30 or 8:00 AM to tell me to “meet us at the Columbia Hospital Emergency Room.” I feared the worse and hurried south to the beginning of our seven-week trauma.  A difficult drive that day.  I now don’t remember if they told me of kidney failure on the phone or after I got there. But I did have a conference with the doctor later at the hospital with more details.

Background Reasons for her Kidney Failure – Juli was born with multiple abnormalities which we slowly learned about over the years after her birth. The biggest deal or first difficulty was that her brain was not fully developed and thus the diagnosis of autism and asperger syndrome. Later, after the divorce I worked with her gynecologist for a type of surgery to relieve a huge “bag of blood” we were thinking might be a tumor. She was born with two uteruses and when periods started, she had two periods every month but one did not drain because a septum had grown between one uterus and her vagina forming this “bag of blood.” The doctor cut the septum and drained nearly a liter of blood. The challenge of single-parenting!

Her other known physical abnormality at birth was being born with only one kidney, that never fully developed, meaning that in 1997 as a 17 year old girl she had the small kidney of about a 5 year old and only one! Of course it could not handle the blood processing of an older person or larger physical body. It was bound to “shut down” or “fail” at some time and this was the time.

Hospitalization for Ten Days in July – There were so many things they had to do, starting with treatment of the “pollution” or infection of her whole body because of the kidney failure. Then a massive or longer than usual dialysis to fully clean her out. Tough but it saved her life!

She was always a “trooper” with all the needles and other difficulties, my “Happy Girl!”

This was followed by dialysis every day for a couple of days then onto a “normal” dialysis schedule that she would have to continue for the rest of her life three times a week. I was also told that she wouldn’t qualify for a kidney transplant because as a “special needs” child she could never rise high enough on the priority list for transplants. Wow! Were our lives ever changing! This was a new challenge to the ones I had already adapted to as the parent of a “special needs” child soon to be a special needs adult whom I was writing a “Life Plan” for with details for every circumstance including my death, but I had not included 3 times a week dialysis!

All of this was major complicated medical work and requiring staying in the hospital ultimately for 10 days. I slept on that couch bed thing in most hospital rooms and we worked through it all day by day.  We even celebrated my birthday together on July 4, watching a few Columbia fireworks out her window!

A Week at Home  & A Week at School Experimentally

July 12 – I don’t have the detailed dates in the blur of activity, but I took Juli home for about a week, meaning continued interference with my job (Allen was wonderful about that!)  and we started the weekly 3-day dialysis routine in Nashville for about one week while the same clinic arranged for it to be continued in Columbia with transportation provided from and back to the school. The school was being so brave to take this on and a whole lot because they wanted to help me. Everyone seemed to feel sorry for me!  🙂  This was the first time the school had ever had a dialysis patient as a student. I was so thankful for them! I would otherwise have had to get a full time sitter in Nashville or put her in some kind of institution or daycare.

Then we had about a week to try it out in Columbia before their Summer Break began August 1. And though interrupting her school schedule, the school basically let the clinic take care of Juli medically with transportation, dialysis, etc. The school just had to try limiting her intake of fluids which is a challenge! After about a week at school, I brought her back home for her summer break. It was a good short time to see if it would work with no initial promises to me, though the school decided to allow this medical exception.

Summer Break at Home

August  1-16 – Some of the details again have escaped me, but we had a quiet time at home in my Condo in Nashville. She stayed in my recliner in front of TV

Juli fishing two days before her death.

much of the day as she recuperated. I had a sitter for some days so I could go back to work and her mother came and sat with her nearly a week or almost half the time, which was good in many ways (their last time to see each other) though Ginger was her usual negative self, questioning my care, the doctor’s, the school’s and trying to get Juli to tattle on us. But we survived her visit. And I managed to get Juli to a dialysis clinic three times a week which took most of the morning, then in the afternoon she was “drained” or very tired and able to do little. We ate out in restaurants most nights and her last Saturday I took her fishing at Long Hunter State Park which she had enjoyed in the past.

Back in School One Night – Then Bam!

SUNDAY, August 17 – After being home about two weeks I took her back to Columbia to her room there this night, her last night. Of course the next day I felt guilty for taking her back.

MONDAY, August 18 – Juli woke up and as always walked to the bathroom upon arising. Halfway to the bathroom she collapsed on the floor. Her roommate ran to get an adult who called for an ambulance. She had died instantly there with congestive heart failure which was of course brought on by the kidney failure and I imagine “her cheating” on the amount of water she could drink in a day (1 quart limit). Too much fluid building up around the heart causes congestive heart failure which is one thing dialysis relieves but it is not every day.

The school again called me with the message of “meet us at the hospital,” but I was more prepared for the worst this time and sure enough it was. The long drive there was absolutely horrible and I should have asked someone to drive me there. I’m too darn independent!

A really nice Presbyterian minister officially broke the news to me, “Your daughter died.” And tried to counsel me, but I just wanted to get on with the significant amount of work I knew was my responsibility. She was actually pronounced dead at the home/school before being transported to the hospital. This was really hard on the school too – the first time they ever had a student to die at the school. King’s Daughters School is simply wonderful!

Papers to sign and funeral home information to give the hospital. The legal stuff had just begun.

But of all the massive support I got, a huge amount was from the school. The Director, Charlotte Battles, insisted I let her drive me home with her husband driving my car back. So we did that and upon arrival at my condo we found a group of my single friends from the church waiting on me.

This FBC group too would not let me drive to do all the things that must be done – arrangements at the funeral home and church where the assistant pastor Jimmy Dunn called Ginger for me and we arranged a time for the funeral that she and Jason could come for. Then I arranged to buy her plane tickets for her to pick up in Austin. (Of course she said she had no way to get here.) Rus Roach agreed to do the funeral and the planning was on, with Margi Hawkins doing the music. .

Then that afternoon and again the next morning Roy Barbee was my chauffeur with all the arrangements at Woodlawn and we got a shirt or blouse to go with a nice jumper Ginger had made Juli so she would be wearing one new thing in the casket. Roy McPherson provided my dinner that night.

TUESDAY, August 19Roy Barbee continued to drive me around finishing the many details of things that just have to be arranged or done and people called, etc. Death is overwhelming.

WEDNESDAY, August 20 – Crying, phone calls, more details at funeral home, photos picked out and arranged for the visitation, and preparation for the arrival of Tom & Dorothy Hearn plus Red & Myra Harrod  (Ginger’s two sets of remarried parents) with me having no Doggett family come. Then in the evening I tried too much to manage the Visitation rather than let people love on me, but it went well anyway with 258 registered people plus a few more. The only problem was Ginger wearing an ugly name tag about some association of mothers who have had their children stolen from them. My friends who know her, expected that from her and the others probably barely noticed. Jason tried to hide in the shadows and didn’t want to be there. 

THURSDAY, August 21Funeral & Lunch out with both Tom & Dorothy + Red & Myra, Ginger & Jason not joining us, though invited. Ginger & Jason spoke to almost no one, leaving quickly after the burial. Everyone else then leaves and I’m in a daze the rest of the day. It is still hard to write about it as I am doing this post in 2019, 23 years after that hard day. Whew! A tough time.

FRIDAY, August 22 – Still in a daze, I write a poem about Juli, visit the grave, make phone calls and start to work on a memorial book. The poem is on another page titled “My Daughter Juli, God’s Precious Jewel” with the inspiration coming from Rus Roach’s message yesterday with his reading from Malachi 3:16-17 KJV, “And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels” and stretched it a little to call Juli “one of God’s Jewels.” I liked that and thus inspired to write a poem!

Go to the top of this page for the MENU of other pages on Juli’s death.

And below is the timeline in the Memorial Book I prepared for Juli then. This was the first page.

 

When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.” 
― Fred Rogers

THANK YOU for allowing me to talk to you about this most emotional time of my life. Just writing it out and sharing it publicly makes it less overwhelming.  ~Charlie