Monday, March 16, 2015

Continuing the story

Someone asked me how Bob was doing, and I realized that I had left the story right in the middle. I think I just got tired of trying to write it all down in detail, and also, Blogger is screwed up for me now -- I made a Blogspot blog for a client, and now even when I sign in as myself, I'm seeing her blog, and no matter what I do, I can't see mine in Firefox, which is what I normally use.

I can use a different browser and it will work, so I'm using Safari for this today. Weird.

Anyway, Bob is doing great! He was on the respirator and in an induced coma for two weeks. Two weeks, I found out, is the longest that most doctors will leave you on a respirator. Any longer than that, and all kinds of problems can start. They had been warning me for a few days that we were approaching the two week point, and that they would probably need to do a tracheostomy, which is cutting a hole in the neck to access the windpipe directly, without going through the mouth and throat.

Throughout Bob's second week in the hospital, they would periodically try a breathing "trial," which basically meant dialing down the sedation and respirator and seeing if he could breathe on his own and not become agitated with the tubes down his throat. Frankly, I can't imagine anyone being able to do that. The usually did them very early in the morning, before I got there, and the nurses would tell me that they did a trial, and it went okay, but not well enough to remove the respirator.

All of the doctors said the tracheostomy wasn't a big deal, and it wasn't anything to be scared of, but I was. I trusted them to know what was the best thing to do, but all I could think about was people in long-term comas, and that scared me to death. The 14th day fell on a Monday, so they planned to do the tracheostomy at 10:00 that day. I got to the hospital earlier than usual on Monday, and found that the nurses had decided to try one more time, and they had initiated another trial. They were in the middle of it when I got there, Bob was awake, with the tubes still down his throat.

I dropped my stuff and stood there by his bed, holding his hand and looking into his eyes and telling him that he was doing great, that he just needed to hold on for a few more minutes. It was a total of 20 minutes altogether, I think. He made it through whatever the time limit was, and sometime during that time, an anesthesiologist came in, expecting to get him ready to go down to the operating room. It was nice to be able to tell him that it didn't look like the surgery was going to happen.

The surgeon came in and looked at the numbers, and decided to remove the tubes. He looked at Bob and told him what to do -- he was supposed to cough, and they would pull the tubes out at the same time. The surgeon was so happy -- I was too, of course, so happy that they didn't have to do the tracy -- he said, "Well, hello, sir! How are you? Nice to meet you!" It was so cool for all of the doctors to come around (and the nurses, too), who had never yet actually met him when he was conscious.

My nieces had come with their babies to sit with me that day, when we assumed that Bob was going to be in surgery for several hours. I was so grateful that they were there, because I was really anxious that day. We talked for awhile, and went down to the cafeteria for lunch, then they took off and I went back to sit with Bob.

He was awake, but he wasn't really all there. We figured out later that he had had a lot of very vivid "coma dreams" that he thought were real, and after having been unconscious for two weeks, it was really hard for him to differentiate between what was real and what wasn't.

To be continued . . .