Beginning like every other day these past two weeks, the dogs needed taken out, the coffee was not yet in my cup and I had taken my morning probiotic and gulped water down. I hung over the Keurig as my hot Newman’s Organic brewed and mused over the news I would receive this morning. Could they bring David’s oxygen down to 50% today? Would he be more alert? Tuesday is Valentine’s Day, would I be able to wish him the Valentine’s Day that almost wasn’t?
With steady hand I hit the recent calls on my phone and at the top of the list from last night’s late call was the number I have grown accustomed to. “Good morning, this is Tanya Hale checking on my husband, David Hale.” Then the long pause. This morning it seemed like forever, but Tara was still on duty and answered, out of breath and chipper as ever. “He has done great over night! I just got done bathing him and he was responding well.” Knowing she had just completed this task, I quickly let her move on, thanked her for her caring for David overnight and bid her a good day. I told her I would call later after the doctors had made rounds.
Great news! No back sliding overnight! I rushed to get dressed for work, considering whether I would go visit today or let him rest one more day. He did seem more alert yesterday and that was a good sign. Maybe his oxygen would be lowered today and that will make my decision. God will tell me what to do. Like every morning, I got things ready and headed off to work. Everyone at work has been so great! Things are usually slower this time of year and for that I was grateful to God, given the circumstances.
Around 10:45 AM I decided to make another call to find out how things were and what the doctors were saying. His nurse for the day, a kind young man named Jordan, was working with David. Jordan was there when David arrived last Monday at Chippenham. It was comforting to hear a familiar voice that I had met in person on our journey. Jordan explained that they would be looking to reduce his oxygen being supplied to him and that the ENT had not been in to remove the lovely torpedo (see Day 12 for that explanation!). He explained that he would call again, though he felt certain the ENT was going to do this as planned. The sedatives were turned down a bit and so David was more awake, groggy but awake. His medications were slowly coming down in preparation for that ventilator to come out!
Jordan saved the best for last. He said he was going to get with the pulmanologist to see if the ventilator could be removed today. My heart was jumping out of my body with joy! This could mean a corner is really being turned! I assured Jordan I would call after lunch to see what the pulmanologist and ENT had said.
I remember taking a walk outside and looking up to find the skies entirely blue. A beautiful blue and not a cloud in the sky. I remember praying, “God is this a sign that David’s lungs are clear and he will be able to breath on his own.” I paced around the parking lot with the cold air whirling around me and my thoughts whirling just as fast as the wind. What if? What else? God, thank you! God, strengthen him, heal him, make him as clear as the skies today!
Time drug on but as promised I made that call around 12:45. I had already determined I would head up to see David this afternoon. It sounded as if he may be more alert and would recognize me and be able to communicate somewhat. To my complete surprise, Jordan said that David’s oxygen intake was down to 40% and that all pressures and readings were steady. And the ventilator? Jordan explained that he was waiting on the pulmanologist to come and take the vent out and the ENT would be there soon to remove the torpedo.
J O Y O U S! My Carpenter Friend and I shared this message often during his throat cancer battle and recovery. I was happy dancing around my desk and beaming with excitement! JOYOUS I kept thinking to myself. I told Jordan I would be heading up in about an hour and would see him in a couple of hours!
You can only imagine the childish excitement and joy I was feeling. Last week I was sure he would have surgery Tuesday or Wednesday and instead he was clinging to life. One week later we are back to hopes of surgery soon. We don’t have a date, but this could be the turning point that would sooner than later provide a date for this needed multiple bypass surgery. I quickly completed the tasks at hand, grabbed up one of my dearest friends to ride with me and off we went.
As we parked the car my mind was racing. What would I see? How would he be? Would they have gotten the tube out yet? Where will we be with all of this? How awake would he be? Would he be able to talk yet? What would be his color? Is he stable enough for this? Mind racing, the elevator took forever to get to the third floor.
I had to slow down my walking pace, I noticed I was almost running. Who wouldn’t run given the circumstances of the last 13 days? I rounded the corner of the nurses station looking for Jordan and looking past to see David moving and it appeared his tubes were gone. Jordan appeared around the corner announcing David’s vent tube and NG tube were gone! Oh Jordan! Thank you God! I asked Jordan if I could give him a great big hug! He smiled and quickly complied.
Jordan explained that his vent tube was removed about 30 minutes before and that he was truly stable and doing well. His throat will be a little sore and that he would not really be able to talk much but that he looks great! Yes, his torpedo had been taken out.
As I slowly walked into his room, David brightened and smiled half of a smile. It was true! He was in fact without tubes in his head and looked better than he has in over a week! My heart skipped a beat as we walked around the bed. His smile was priceless and when our eyes met, I knew. I knew he had no idea what has gone on, how this all happened and what was going on. I brushed past the questions to tell David how great he looked! I meant every word! A thing of beauty! My husband, ALIVE and making progress! He reached for my face and stroked my cheeks. As I held back the tears I knew what was in his heart. I said I love you back.
I knew David was coming around, as his first motion was across his cheeks in the motion of shaving. I rolled laughing and said that would come in time, let’s just get you well first. He then started counting the tips of his fingers. No, I said, it’s not important how many days. What is important is the here and now and you getting stronger and better for the next steps. Still clearing his throat from the deep mucous and removal of the ventilator, we pulled in a nurse for assistance, as David did not want me auctioning his mouth! Yo-bay! After the nurse came and cleared and cleaned him up and handed him his favorite tool – the suction wand, he motioned he wanted his teeth brushed. Now, in retrospect I think he really wanted the suction wand, but I know my husband and he probably wanted his teeth brushed too! After about 45 minutes of exchanging sign language and my running my mouth about how great he looked and how far he had come and on and on, he was getting tired.
The entire time David’s stats stayed the same and remained good. I was shaking like a leaf, not wanting to stress or upset him, not overstay my welcome and his ability to rest at intervals. I looked up and the respiratory team rolled up to give David a breathing treatment. It was time for me to move on, time for him to rest and time for us to heal and recover from the excitement of the day. I bid David a sweet kiss goodbye and assured him I would be returning tomorrow to check on him, bring him his favorite Cherry Chapstick and celebrate Valentine’s Day!
As I returned to the office with a renewed bounce in my step, I felt relieved a bit for the first time in 13 days. Shaking my head as I walked down the hall, everyone was a-buzz with the blessed news! As I walked past my office to the second door to my office I noticed someone had closed the blinds. I momentarily thought that was odd. Then I walked in to see this HUGE bouquet of long stem red roses and a box of chocolate covered strawberries! Bewildered…how could this be? The note from David? What? Lou Meredith…? Robyn? Who did this? The team walked in, smiles on their faces as tears and bewilderment were all over my face. They swiftly explained that the Monday before his heart attack David had given the instruction to Robyn to get with Lou and order my Valentine’s Roses so that they were ordered and I wouldn’t know.
As I began to run through all the scenarios that “could have” happened, my heart melted. My husband, in ICU in the Cardiac Unit had Valentine’s Roses sent to me the day before Valentine’s Day. THAT folks is love! That is the man I married and the man that I am praying over. The man YOU are praying over and hopefully a man that others will share his story and impact others as he has me and so many others.
The rest of the day was a blur as I was up high in a cloud in a cloudless sky, thanking God, praising the Guardian Angels and asking God to keep the Angels posted and watching over him. I will continue praying those Angels stand guard and that they will continue breathing warm air into his body, healing air that will heal him and strengthen him for surgery and well beyond. Wilson and I gathered for a dinner of leftovers from meals past, enjoying the variety and just the quiet time alone to celebrate and joke about when David would be home.
This evening, as every evening, I will call again to check on David before retiring for the day. I sat for a moment savoring the sweet Chocolate Covered Strawberries from Puddin’ Cakes, and shook my head at this wonderful man of mine. His sweet nurse this evening says he is doing great. David says he’s tired. That is expected. She is talking about them possibly getting him sitting up tomorrow, getting him stronger in preparation of his upcoming surgery. Our prayers tomorrow will be that we have some date for potential surgery and plans for forward direction.
“Goodnight and have a great evening! And thank you for what you do!” I said to the sweet nurse as I prepared to hang up. With a skip in her voice she said, “You as well, and thank you! I needed to hear that this evening.” Through all of our challenges this past 13 days, we have gone from 0 to Joyous and back to 0. With God’s blessings and grace we have returned to JOYOUS again!
Remember those who serve our community! We remember to thank our firemen, EMS/EMT, police and so on, but have you remembered to thank a doctor, thank a nurse for his or her profession and the care they give. So often we complain about the care given us and forget to thank these professionals who day in and day out give of themselves and fully invest their lives in caring for others. Take a minute to brighten their day, lighten their load and show appreciation. Your appreciation for their life’s work might just make the care someone else receives a little better! My mom is a nurse! Thank you mom for your 54 years of healing, compassion, caring and tender care of each patient you have encountered!
God gives us gifts, share them with others through praise, prayer, healing touch, smiles and the gift of what you have to offer, even if it is a kind word or opening a door. Tomorrow, take a minute to perform Random Acts of Kindness and post your challenge and results for others! Make it your “David Duty” this week! Be random! God bless each of you on your journey!