Has it only been four days?
Feels like a lot longer. I’m so tired. But the news is good.
After being in ICU for three days and kept fully sedated, with a pump inserted that was essentially working his heart for him, a respirator and a million other contraptions keeping him going, John was taken off the pump and the respirator last night, and allowed to waken. And this morning, he was taken from ICU to a regular room. 🙂
Wednesday and Thursday, I went to the hospital in the late morning/early afternoon, and his brother went later. All we could do was sit in ICU and watch him breathe. On Thursday, he was more mildly sedated, so he was moving around a little, but not conscious. I told him over and over that I loved him, I stroked his hair. And then I left, because there wasn’t anything else I could do.
But later Thursday night, I got a text from his brother: “Look who’s back among the living!”
I was overjoyed to see his eyes open, and see the color back in his face. Shortly after I got the text, his bro called me, and then put John on the phone. At first, I just heard breathing, then a lot of mumbled gibberish. “Hi sweetie! What, honey? What did you say?” I cried. Finally, I heard, “Lubyuveymush.” Which translated, of course, to “Love you very much.” ♥
The first thing I did was text that picture to Alex and SpankCake, to John’s co-worker/friend and to a couple of other friends. SC, ever mischievous, texted back a photo of herself, beaming and holding up a sign that read: “Hi John! Welcome to 2017!”
Today, I got there around noon, and stayed there all day, leaving at 7:15. He was sitting up in a chair; he’s still hooked up to IVs and drains, but he is fully awake, eating solid food, talking. He’s very weak and isn’t supposed to stand without help, but he was able to use the restroom with assistance and they had him walking around the floor. At lunchtime, he was struggling with his food a bit, so I cut things up for him and fed him. By dinnertime, I still cut up his chicken breast, but he fed himself completely and ate everything. He’s drinking more water, too — at first, he wasn’t, because he kept aspirating the water. But after some practice, he got better at it. The nurse was gently insisting that he drink more, because he needs to stay hydrated.
Kaiser Permanente (his HMO) is quite the mixed bag. Their administrative staff can be really difficult, and some of their doctors are kind of harried and impatient, but overall, the doctors and nurses give top-notch treatment. John had round-the-clock care in ICU, and today, he was checked on all day, and treated very gently, kindly, and politely. Which isn’t easy, because John, my beloved, is not the easiest patient. He challenges and questions everything — I watched him resist his pain meds, and his nurse never lost patience, just let him put them off, all the while convincing him that it really was a good idea to stay on them, even though he was feeling OK at the moment. Sure enough, he took them, an hour later. (sigh) You have to know how to handle this man. Push, and he resists. Gently cajole, let it seem like it’s his idea, and he capitulates. Even his brother, when he came this evening, said, “It’s good to see you back to your stubborn self.” When John shot him a look, he teased, “I’m sorry… was ‘stubborn’ too harsh a word?” John said, with exaggerated dignity, “I prefer determined.” Humph.
Of course, there had to be comic relief every now and then. When you enter the main building, you have to check in at the front desk, show your ID and get a name tag with the floor number that you’re visiting. So yesterday, after having checked in for the past two days, I knew the drill and stepped up to the counter, where a flustered-looking young woman was clearly in training, with an older woman right behind her. I said, “Hi, I’m visiting Cardiac ICU on the Third Floor.” She looked blankly at me and then said, “Are you the patient?”
Um… WHAAAT?? I stared at her, then I couldn’t help it… I burst out laughing. No, sweet pea. I’m not the patient; I’m visiting the patient. She asked for his name, then my name, then futzed with my driver’s license, all the while giggling nervously. Yeah. She’ll go far.
Oh, and I’m supposed to tell y’all — when I arrived at John’s room today, and walked up to his chair to give him a kiss hello, the first thing he did was snake his arm around me and grab my ass. rolling eyes
I have never been more grateful for texts and emails in all my life. The past few days, I’ve heard from so many concerned people, wanting to know how John was (and how I was). And as much as I appreciated them all, if I’d had to talk to them all on the phone, I would have lost my mind. So I’ve been very nimble-fingered, catching people up, texting friends, his brother and sister-in-law, his co-workers, his neighbors. John is one well-loved man, it turns out. And as for me, I have received my own acts of kindness. Both John’s neighbors and his bro/sis-in-law sent ME flowers! John’s not allowed to have flowers, plants or balloons in his room, so he jokingly told people, “Send the flowers to Erica instead.” But I didn’t expect to actually get them!
Unfortunately, I can’t bring him sweets either — he’s not allowed to have chocolate! No caffeine. (sigh) I hope that won’t go on for too long. John loves his chocolate.
I have been taking care of myself, promise. I’m eating and sleeping and I even went to the gym. Did laundry, kept up with bills and errands, the usual stuff. The things that fall to the wayside when you’re consumed with worry. As timing would have it, I had almost no work this week. While this is obviously not something I wish to continue, it was for the best this week.
Tomorrow, I’ll go to his house to collect the mail, go in and do some cleaning, and then I’ll head back to the hospital. Thanks to everyone for all the well wishes and good thoughts. You guys have really helped keep me going. And I promise I’ll let you know when John goes home! 🙂 They won’t let him go until they can unhook him from all the apparatus, he is fully mobile and ambulatory and his vitals have been stable for a while. Personally, I hope they are conservative about it. He’s well taken care of in a completely sterile environment, so let him stay there a bit, I say. We’ll see.
Sleep time. After I eat my and John’s share of chocolate. I’ve earned it.