Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Page 7 - Just Keep Breathing


         The over all theme, while obvious, can get lost in the details of each day spent trying to live. You might say I had a team overseeing my care, but when it came to the ventilator in my lungs and how to proceed, there seemed to be three refs with different plays in mind. The only agreement was that the fluid in my lunges had to come out! With this detail so prevalent in my day to day, such as whenever I rolled to one side or the other or even was laid back in a straight position, I felt fluid move and often had to cough it up. A few times it came down to a critical point wherein I had to have something called a bronchoscopy. Fun fun. It was most affectionately referred to as a "Bronc", by some. I did not necessarily look forward to this "procedure" as it involved going directly into my lungs via my trache with the suction device and a tiny camera. Of course the good news for me was that I was put under and I quite look forward to the countdown to temporary oblivion and then waking up a couple hours later with no memory of the procedure and just a nice mellow glow in my head.

          It was not really in the grand plan to have to wean me off the ventilator. It was doing a fine job but I certainly didn't want to be tethered to a breathing machine. The pulmonary team I had did their best but each of the three had their own specific way of doing the weaning. It was very uncomfortable for me to have my orders changed each time one of them was on duty. This became more and more difficult and it seemed like I had many days of struggling. In truth I don't know how long it went on before I finally made the firm demand that I liked one Doctor's method and it was my decision as the patient to stick with that one method. How I was able to make demands will be described later… But there is a very pivotal moment between my brother and I during all of this. He had come into the hospital feeling very frustrated and wanting to be angry at me for resisting, as he thought, getting off the vent. At the time he arrived it just so happened that my breathing had become very labored and I had asked for a respiratory therapist but it had been nearly 45 min. that I lay there on my side very scared because I could not breathe. As my brother rounded the corner to my room I began to cry, seeing him. I knew finally I might be able to get some help. When he saw my tears, of course his grand plan to inspire me with anger, just melted away. I told him what had happened and his anger turned toward the staff so off he went looking for quick help. I don't recall how long it took but I know he stayed with me and realized that I was actually suffering. But there was no mistake I wanted to breathe on my own eventually. It was not an easy process.
          In the midst of all this, the bright light was that there was an apparatus that could be attached with the mouthpiece that allowed me to speak. Otherwise people had to get used to lip reading and some were pretty good at it including my brother. But when I was able to speak however weakly, I just could not get enough in!