Last week we finally got the report from the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s office regarding Teal’s death. (Yes, it has been two years. No idea why this took so long.) While the cause is still listed as complications due to her seizure disorder, we learned that she also had the very rare hantavirus. This is caused by exposure to country mouse droppings and is often fatal. Several people died after exposure to hantavirus about the same time in Yosemite National Park.
Here is the totally weird thing: Teal had been sick with a serious case of the flu and what a doc called walking pneumonia and appeared to recover about 8 days before her collapse. Then she went back to work for three days. She called me the day before I saw her and complained of feeling like she was having panic — or possibly was gearing up to have a really big seizure. Now I realize this may have been the difficulty one often has breathing with hantavirus.
When I had dinner with her that last night, she was really disengaged. Quiet. An hour late. Somewhat drifty and very much not herself. She spiraled down from there, after she left me, becoming really unsteady until her cardiac arrest two hours later. So she may have been suffering from oxygen deprivation from the hantavirus in her lungs while we ate dinner … but no one had any idea. Certainly not me.
Knowing how my girl died can’t bring her back, but getting the full picture at least helps me embrace reality, however scary it may be. And reality is always richer and stronger than a thousand made up stories.
I am grieving anew, but this time with the understanding that no matter what Teal died of, her time had come. Also that neither I nor anyone else could have prevented her death. And so it is. Thanks for listening.
PS. This is a picture of Teal taken by a friend while she was farming in Belgium