Darl and his daughter, Cher, left California on February 19 to visit friends in Atlanta and Athens and participate in events celebrating the 25th Annual Darl Snyder Lecture in African Studies at UGA. That night they dined at Darl's favorite Mexican restaurant, Los Bravos; on Monday they shared breakfast with Darl's good friend and former cardiologist, lunched at the Terror Terroir, and joined other dear friends for dinner at Canterbury Court where Darl and Flo had lived for many years.
The Snyders arrived in Athens the following morning. After visiting with friends at their favorite place, Schlotsky's, they treated themselves to a visit and haircuts with their friend and favorite hairdresser and headed for the Hotel Indigo, where they enjoyed a pleasant dinner with UGA's director of African Studies -- Darl riffing nonstop with their waiter, who was hard-pressed to keep up with his customer's pace.
When Cher knocked on Darl's door at the Indigo the morning of Wednesday, February 22, to take him to the breakfast kickoff event, she heard him call out that he had fallen. Once Cher gained access to his room she discovered Darl on the floor, alert but in substantial discomfort, where he had lain for the past 90 minutes. A 911 call brought the paramedics, with whom Darl joked, teased, and poked fun as they gently moved him onto a board to convey him to the waiting ambulance. Even though the x-rays confirmed a broken left hip, Darl continued his usual witty banter with the medical personnel in the ER in between various other diagnostic tests.
Not long afterwards, Darl seemed to tire, became groggy, fell into a deep sleep, then lost consciousness. He was placed on a bi-pap device which forced oxygen into his lungs, then was taken to the ICU for observation. Repeated attempts to awaken him since that time have been unsuccessful. The bi-pap device was removed, and he has continued to breathe with the aid of a simple oxygen tube.
The possibility of a stroke was ruled out by the generalized, non-focal nature of his responses. None of the theories offered to explain this turn of events has been satisfactory. Perhaps he reacted badly to medications given during transport to, or during his stay in, the ER...perhaps the diskinetic portion of his left ventricle as revealed by his echocardiogram nestled a blood clot that dislodged and broke apart when he fell, causing diffuse damage to his brain...perhaps metabolic encephalopathy was a factor resulting in his ultimate decline. We may never know the cause, but we do know the result: the longer he remains unconscious, the less likely it is he will regain consciousness.
Darl continues to rest comfortably and peacefully in the ICU where Cher has been his constant companion. He is receiving palliative care and will likely be admitted to hospice care in the next few days, consistent with his wishes. Many friends are stopping by to visit and share their thoughts and prayers, all of us hoping he is able to process in some way the words of love we speak to him and to know how cherished and dear he is to us all.