Monday, June 28, 2010

Some of my e-mails before and after Thai's death

This was definitely the most difficult post for me to put together. The optimism we had in the beginning, now that I know the outcome, is heartbreaking to read. And yet I want to make sure that my boys know that I was always upfront with them. We were receiving a cautious but optimistic message on Thai's eventual recovery which I desperately wanted to believe and I shared that message with them until Friday night when we learned the devastating truth. Many of you have already seen most of these messages.

Tuesday 6/1 E-mail to a group of friends on my e-mail contacts

The outpouring of support for Thai and our family during this very difficult time has been overwhelming. I can’t tell you how much it means to us. We are so lucky to live in such a wonderful community with such incredible people.

Thai is currently stable, but fully sedated at this point. He had a rough time of it initially, but he seems to be mending as well as anyone can hope. We will know more in a few days when he is brought out of the sedation and the heart has a chance to recover. We are hopeful for a full recovery, but don’t know what that will entail yet. I am including the following note that was sent out by Thai’s partner since his description is better than mine. Here’s the note:

By now many of you have heard about Thai McGreivy. For those of you that did not I wanted to let you know and ask for your support and prayers for Thai, Katherine and their family. Yesterday morning Thai was starting out on a bike ride with a group of friends when he suddenly collapsed. He was brought to the ER at Suburban Hospital in cardiac arrest. After being resuscitated in the ER he was transported to the cath lab and had emergency angioplasty and placement of a drug eluting stent in his LAD. He is now in the CV ICU undergoing a cerebral cooling protocol while his CV status stabilizes. The next several days will be critical as his heart recovers and he wakes up from the drug induced sedation he is currently under.There were many things that went right in a terrible situation for Thai. He was with friends and not alone. A physician passing by stopped to render aid and monitor his pulse, which he had, until EMS arrived. As he lost pulses for the initial episode the Medics were on scene and able to quickly start to resuscitate him. He was brought to the ER where an experienced cardiologist, not on call for STEMIs, just happened to be ‘around’ and was able to respond to the ER on a holiday to facilitate his care. He had a resource nurse care for him from ER to cath lab to the ICU ensuring a great continuum of care. He was transported to a facility that was able to offer emergency PTCA as well as a cerebral cooling protocol for post arrest patients. All of the above state of the art and delivered very timely. As one of the medics, Chris, stated ‘today the system worked exactly as it was supposed to work’. That is not always the case as we all know. Shahana will help to coordinate the response on the MEP end. I know that many of you may want to visit and while appreciated I ask that you allow his family some time to focus on Thai and his recovery for a few days before dropping by to offer your support. The best thing we can do now is offer our prayers, love and support to Thai, Katherine and his family. Thanks,Angelo

I know I have forgotten people on this list. Please feel free to forward this note to anyone who you think might want to receive it.

Much love,


Tuesday 6/1 (Private e-mail to Carrie)

Thai is stable and off a lot of the artificial support he was on. We don't know when they are going to lift sedation. Maybe tomorrow, maybe Thursday. That's the next big hurdle since we won't know his mental status until then. The waiting is really tough. Just pray that he's still the same Thai we all love.

Wednesday 6/2 (private e-mail to Carrie)

Some good news is that his cardiac output/blood pressure is improving. They are going to try to lift sedation this evening. This is a really scary time because we just don't know what to expect in terms of mental status and I can't get any answers other than they don't know what to expect. I've asked sixty different ways and I get the same answer. So please send as many good thoughts/prayers Thai's way as you can. Also, there is an MEP facebook site that Angelo is updating with status updates if people want to check that.

Love, Kath

Thursday 6/3 (e-mail to Helping Hands group)

Thai had a bit of a setback last night when he came down with pneumonia. It was unfortunate, but not a surprise considering the amount of fluid he had in his lungs. They are treating him aggressively with antibiotics to get rid of the infection and a diuretic to get rid of the fluid. I talked to the nurse this morning and she told me that his numbers were moving in the right direction. The medical care at Suburban has been top notch so we are very lucky to be there. They have warned me to expect a bumpy ride, but everyone is optimistic that the ultimate outcome will be positive. In the meantime, it means they can’t lift the sedation as we had hoped. Unless things turn quickly, it could be several days, a week or even more. Of course, the waiting is agony, but the important thing is Thai is healing. And as his ICU doc told me last night, “This is all just ICU stuff. If he wasn’t having this stuff, he wouldn’t be in the ICU.” It made me feel better knowing that at least for them, this was routine. And Thai’s strong, so I think he may beat all their predictions. Four days before this happened, he had been on a 30 mile bike ride.

Again, thank you so much for the outpouring of support. It means so much and I’m sorry I can’t answer everyone’s e-mails personally. My Luddite-ness is catching up with me since I have no access to e-mail during the day when I’m at the hospital.

Much love,


Friday 6/4 (e-mail to Helping Hands group the morning before going to hospital)

Yesterday was a bit of a rocky day for Thai as he struggled to clear the gunk from his lungs from the pneumonia. They had started weaning him off of oxygen and lowering his respirator support, but sometime in the morning, his oxygen saturation numbers dropped and they had to up his oxygen back to 100 percent and increase the work the machine was doing for him. Because of his fragile medical condition, they couldn’t do all the things they would usually do to clear his lungs. They did finally manage to loosen things up with some physical manipulation of his chest and switched out his ventilator to a different kind and when I called this morning he was back down to 50 percent oxygen so things are improving. I’m hoping we’re at the beginning of the end of this ordeal, but am trying to keep myself prepared for the roller coaster to continue. Besides Thai, the boys are of course my biggest concern and I’m trying so hard to keep their lives as normal as possible. We are being optimistic, but honest, and trying to keep them in all their activities to keep them busy and active. Jan gave me a terrific book on helping your kids when your parent has a serious illness and it was a great relief that my instincts seemed to be right in this stuff. I have had amazing help from my friends both for me and my kids. Thank you so much everyone. I believe there have been a few silver linings to this nightmarish situation. One is I’ve finally lost that five pounds that was my summer swimsuit goal. The others are the love I’ve felt surrounded by, the affirmation of the essential goodness of people and the realization of how wonderful life really is. Seize the day because you really never know what’s around the corner. Some of you know this, but I wanted to share how incredible Thai’s partners have been in this situation. I’ve long known they were a great group of people, but I’ve really been overwhelmed by what they’ve been doing. There has been an MEP doctor at the hospital 24 hours a day from the time this has started even though they also need to cover Thai’s shifts. They have been there to monitor Thai’s care and offer support. I see why Thai loved his work so much working with people like this.Keep your thoughts and prayers on Thai licking this pneumonia and being able to get weaned off the ventilator and woken up. Love,Katherine

Saturday 6/5 (E-mail to Helping Hands website)

It is with a heavy heart that I have to tell you the devastating news we received yesterday. Thai was winning the battle with pneumonia, but our greatest underlying fear was realized. Being finally stable enough to undergo a CAT scan, we learned that he had suffered massive and irreversible brain damage during his ordeal with no hope of a meaningful recovery. The love of my life and the beloved father of four sons as we knew him is gone, although his heart is still beating. I faced the hardest thing I have ever done in my life which was to tell his four sons that their daddy wasn’t coming home. They are grieving deeply but I hope healthily. Today we will go to say our goodbyes. Right now we are closing ranks together as a family to deal with this tragedy, but I will welcome your love and support in a few days. I will let Carrie know when I feel ready. I know your thoughts are with us.

Love, Katherine

Sunday 6/6 (Private e-mail to a group of friends)

We are ready to reach out and receive the support we know is there. You are such a strong, capable group of women and I know I can count on you. I am so lucky to have that support in my life. We are still waiting for a final resolution which is largely dependent upon the rules surrounding organ donation, rules I hope you never have to know. I want to start thinking though about how to honor Thai’s life and I need help getting started on that. I’ve figured out some things and right now I guess my main thought is a location. I have one idea—the Unitarian church on River has a glass open chapel that is nice, but may be too small. Any other thoughts of locations between here and Gaithersburg would be great. I’ve decided it will be spiritual, but not religious and I am planning on asking Angelo to officiate (although I haven’t asked him yet.) Any creative ideas in general are appreciated as my well is dry.

James informed me he is ready to play with his friends today. He is grieving, but it is so different (and easier) to deal with his. Let me know if Aidan or Matthew is available today.

Much love,


Monday 6/7 (E-mail to the Helping Hands website)

Thai rests in peace. He passed calmly and tranquilly around 11:30 last night. Around 1:00 that afternoon we decided the time was right to begin the process for organ donation. We spent the day at the hospital with Thai as the complicated process of readying facilities and finding recipients began. My mom and sister and several of Thai’s partners were with me and we honored Thai with affectionate stories, readings from his blogs, tears and laughter. We also spent time alone with Thai saying last goodbyes. At 10:00 Thai was wheeled out of the room and to the operating room while we told him how much we loved him until the elevator doors closed. We then waited upstairs for news.

At 11:25, the coordinator from the Washington Regional Transplant Community came to the door to tell us that the breathing tube had been removed and that Thai had not drawn any breaths on his own, but his heart was weakly beating. I said “Rest in peace Thai.” We all became completely silent and I immediately felt a pulse of energy that moved through me like a wave and gave me a feeling of total peace. We remained silent for a long time, a comfortable, intimate silence, but whether it was five minutes or 20 I could not say. Those of you who know me well know that I am not religious or particularly spiritual, but Nick, my mother, my sister, Angelo and his wife Amy also felt this sense of something passing through us. Thai always believed in concepts of interconnectedness and the conservation of energy in a broad way so it seems fitting. Maybe it’s true that “there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

After that they reported that they had successfully removed Thai’s liver and it looked good and they were in the process of removing his kidneys. This morning we got the unfortunate news that his liver was too damaged during the cardiac event for donation, but will be used for research. His kidneys, however, looked great and will be readied for donation soon, hopefully giving a new life to two people. He is also a tissue donor and we have been told that more than 20 people may be benefitted by Thai’s gift. This gives us great comfort as there seems to be some purpose in this otherwise utterly senseless and tragic event.



Tuesday 6/8 (E-mail to Helping Hands website)

Thai’s memorial service is scheduled for Thursday June 17 at 3 p.m. at the Bethesda Theatre at 7719 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda. I will send more details as the date gets closer, but wanted to let everyone know the date and time as soon as possible. We are also in the process of setting up a memorial fund in honor of Thai that will fund educational scholarships for excellence and intellectual curiosity in science, mathematics and economics. In lieu of flowers, our family will request donations to this fund.

I also want to say thank you again and again and again for everything people have done for me. I cannot tell you what a comfort this outpouring of support has been in such a difficult time. I have read and treasured all the e-mails that you sent and plan on compiling them into a memory book for our family. I apologize that I have not been able to reply to everyone, but hope you understand that they are truly appreciated.


Tuesday 6/15 (E-mail to Helping Hands website)

Before my life took this unforeseeably tragic turn, I had attended a talk by BCC parent Caroline Adams Miller at the Westland book fair. She’s a motivational coach and frankly very inspiring about your ability to reach goals in your life. As I had been toying with the thought of returning to work in some capacity, I bought her book called “Creating Your Best Life” which talks about reaching life goals and research proven happiness boosters . Proven booster #2 is “Expressing Gratitude.” Even before I dealt with Thai’s death, I tried to express my thankfulness to those around me, including, luckily, my beloved husband.

Well, now I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I knew there was a reason why Thai and I, who moved here 15 years ago with a 7 year ARM mortgage because we never planned to stay, stayed and added on and renovated and re-renovated because we knew we would be fools to leave for some bigger house with that mythical garage and yard I have always coveted. You just can’t buy community and I have to say you all have outdone yourselves here. Whether it’s a well timed hug, a beautifully written tribute, sharing a cry, mowing our lawn, walking our dog, taking care of the kids, bringing us another delicious meal, taking on the details of all the memorial service, providing books on loss, cleaning out Thai’s car, putting up my relatives, even picking up death certificates because I just couldn’t go back to the funeral home again, it has all helped to get us through this terrible loss. The McGreivys are honored to live in such a community. With the warm embrace of my family, this community, the MEP community, and even Thai’s many online friends, we are healing, although I know it will be a lifelong journey for all of us.

Some of you may have already seen the piece in the Post Health section today. It was written by our friend John Donnelly, a journalist whose writing I have long admired as he covered BCC’s track and field team. When he asked me if I were interested in him writing something on Thai, I said absolutely knowing it would be wonderful. What is below is a longer and even more personal version of the piece that was published today in the Post:

[article was in earlier post]

Also, some of you may be aware that Thai was a passionate and frequent blogger. If you’re interested, there are a number of online tributes that have been gathered at the following site: ( Please explore; Thai would be thrilled I am sure.



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