Thursday, May 23, 2013

Page 8 - Communication



          Communication became of the utmost importance. This is especially true when you're tethered to a breathing machine, with no mobility and no device to call for help when needed. It became both comical and tragic and could change in an instant to either of these. Lip reading was the first hurdle and then came the apparatus that completely altered my state by allowing me to speak!

In the very beginning, right after surgery when I saw my sister's face for the first time I was able to speak. I don't know how I sounded, if I muttered, if I spoke… But I said "I'm going to get the f*ck out of here" and that was that. I don't recall any speech after that. If I did, it was lip movement because the ventilator came very shortly after I was intubated. Lip reading was comical and frustrating endeavor for both myself, those trying to care for me, and family and friends. I can recall so many names of my nurses but it would do them a great disservice to try to name them all. Those I have forgotten I can still see their faces. One of those in particular described herself as clumsy but she was nothing of the sort when being a nurse. The only clumsiness we shared collectively because she could not understand the words I mouthed. Mostly we laughed about it but it was definitely frustrating on both ends. There were others that seem to be able to interpret entire sentences without a hitch. I don't know how anyone gets good at it except to say I'm obviously not the only patient that was ever in a position to have to be lip read.

In the case of family and friends, everyone did their best. There's never any telling who's going to be good with such tasks. And of course I don't know how good I was at mouthing words. I was told not to over enunciate because it made lip breathing more difficult. Go figure. Then one day because my breathing was growing a little bit better I was told there was a device that could be attached to my trech that would allow me to voice words as I breathed out. I could only wear it for short periods of time but when family and friends came in and I was able to say their names… The look on their faces was beautiful to me. It was emotional on all of us, hearing my voice which I imagine was only a whisper as a point. But it was no less than a small miracle to be able to talk to the people I love once again.