Sunday, March 2, 2008

The tube

There were so many things that happened during the beginning that it was difficult to put down on a page. One event I feel the need to report is when they had her on the ventilator.
Salem Hospital made the decision to put the tube down her throat. We have to assume they made the best decision for her at that time. The ICU doctor at OHSU was immediately questioning as to why they had made that tremendous leap. We couldn't answer that. We weren't in the room and we were all pretty much in shock. The ICU doctor (Evan) assured us that they would do all they could to get her off of the ventilator as soon it was possible. He said that they would do a couple of tests each day to see how she'd do without it.
Later that same day her ICU nurse, Marlene, was working on lowering her sedation to prep her for the first test. Whenever the sedation was lowered too much, you could see the panic begin. They had her in restraints, but she could still move around and figure out a way to grasp the tubes. Another nurse, Gus, would come in and readjust the sedation whenever he was in the room. I was thankful for that. Her numbers would go up whenever she became agitated and began to struggle. I know that Marlene was just trying to do what she'd been instructed to do to prepare her for the first test, but it was hard to watch and eventually they escorted us out.
Jon and I, left and sat to wait in what they called "The Gallery". An area still inside the ICU, but made to offer a view and a somewhat comfortable seat. After about 5 minutes, Marlene came and said that they needed my help. I wondered how I could possibly help, but followed behind her. About 8 doctors surrounded her bed. She was wild eyed and determinedly struggling against the restraints. Marlene guided me over towards the side of her bed. The head doctor told me that they wanted to perform the first test of lowering the oxygen level to see if she could breath on her own without the ventilator, but they wouldn't be able to perform the test if she persisted in struggling. "Good luck", I thought to myself, but I grasped her wrist and put my forehead against hers. I looked her in the eyes and in an urgent whisper I informed her, "you are sooo close to getting rid of this damn tube. you can do this." She immediately calmed down and stopped struggling, but I continued my hold and to press foreheads with her. There were murmurs around the bed and then the head doctor announced that 'he didn't know why they put her on the ventilator in in the first place. Let's remove it.'. They told her how important it was for her not to struggle as her vocal cords could be damaged and I continued to keep my place beside her. What a great relief when that damned thing was out! With my forehead still against hers, she looked at me and asked, "where are you?".
"I'm right here with you in the ICU at OHSU."
"Oh. Okay."
"where are my glasses?"

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