This is my second trip here. I journeyed for the surgery and the few days after, headed home for my daughter's 16th birthday, then back with my family in tow. It seemed to do my mother good to see her youngest granddaughters.
Every day, we're hopeful the ventilator tube is removed and, every day, they say tomorrow. Today, I really think they meant it. She's been breathing on her own for five hours. It's labored and I know she's frustrated that the tube is still shoved down her throat. Apparently she tried to get it out as they changed her sheets and gown. That's why her hands are restrained. I hate that. No more than she, I expect. For her own good, they say, but it still sounds hollow and patronizing. I can't imagine these hospital professionals feeling any differently as the tied-down patient. Don't get me wrong, the care here is excellent and so patient- and family-focused. But what seems like common procedure to one, looks demeaning to another.
As she lays here, I keep reminding her of what she knew would be her greatest challenge: surrendering to the healing and recovery. I had't expected it to happen so soon after surgery. I was thinking more like down the line.
Yesterday her feistiness was her own worst enemy as she struggled to mime words with the plastic pipe strapped to her chin and plunged beyond her larynx. I just Googled an image and it made me gag.
The tube did not come out although one of the numerous white-coated docs said it was time to quit foolin' around and get it out. Conditions would never be perfect. Some effort was made, apparently, even though my mother is certain they did not attempt to actually [re]move the tube. Disappointing.
One of the many ups and downs we've come to expect and that I am learning to not let set off alarms every time it doesn't happen. Such a lesson in patience and prayer. They promise that if bloodwork looks good they will make another attempt and send us out of ICU. I trek down to the cafeteria once again praying aloud as I wash my hands and continuing silently all through my meal.
My dad goes next and then we decide to call back – enough time has passed – for another disappointment. Instead, we are buoyed with the news that the tube is out. Wow, I think crumpling. It has finally happened.
Each day has become an adventure, some more so than others, but always a slight step ahead. Once off the ventilator, my mother talks incessantly and we feel our visits are too stimulating. Next morning, she's chewing ice chips and getting every doctor to disobey her nurse and feed her. She even convinced the x-ray tech and then Becky, her guardian caretaker, placed a "no ice chips" sign. Then the delusions appear and she's clearly worried about things possibly imagined. To her, they are real. No one happened to mention the reality of cognitive dysfunction following major surgery, particularly long heart procedures.
Finally my dad asks the question on all of our lips; "did the valve replacement work?" Possibly comes the answer. "We'll know Monday after the heart echo."
One day at a time; this truly forces one to live in the present. I am grateful for the baby steps.
• What experiences have taught me patience?
• How aware of that lesson was I at the time?
• How has that affected my current ability to be patient?
• When I am, how am I rewarded?
• What's the relationship between patience and gratitude in my life?
in the florescent-lit
room with constant
God IS present
even if we
Listen to this post: