Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Thoughts in ICU

I'm in ICU tonight.

Not as a patient.  Paul's mom had the flu and it turned to pneumonia, so she's in here trying to get well.

Meanwhile, her family has been staying with her, one or two at a time as per ICU rules.

Tonight it's my turn. I plan to spend the night.

One's thoughts go in strange directions at such times.

You know all those babies you had, and got up nights with, and thought would never grow up?  And you wondered if your investment would ever pay off?  Well, it pays off, just so you know, in a stream of tall, grown sons and daughters who come and go and do not leave you alone in the hospital when you are 79. If all the other benefits of grown children were not considered, this in itself would be worth it, I think.

The ICU staff seem just a bit overwhelmed with Smuckers.  "We put her on the machine earlier when John was here," the nurse told me.  "Or wait, maybe it was Paul.  Or Steve? Is there a Steve?"

Yes.  And Lois and Rosie.  And everyone's spouses.  And two more siblings arriving this weekend.

And the grandchildren haven't even been here.  If Anne gets moved to a regular room, we'll descend in such swarms as the nurses have probably never beheld.

Hospitals and airports have the same sort of feel at night, with too much light and far-off voices and lots of screens with information and readouts that may or may not make sense, which can bode hope or terrible things, and you feel very out of control.

The human body produces lots of fluids.  You don't think about this so much on a daily basis, when you and the people around you have all their fluids under control.  But medical people get to deal with lots of body fluids and other products--suctioning horrible stuff out of lungs, for instance.  My sister the nurse says this doesn't bother her.  My SIL the medical assistant says she does this daily.  They are brave women.

But hey, I help Anne suction her mouth when she coughs--let courage rise with danger, and strength to strength oppose.

But afterwards I don't drink tea for a while.

Why is it called a "sinus" heartbeat?  Very odd.  It has nothing to do with nasal cavities, I'm sure.

What a mix of low and high tech this place is.  Tubes, monitors, screens, beeping gauges.  Rolling machines that probably cost as much as a new car.  And a magic-markered sign. "SPEAK INTO LEFT EAR."

What a difference it makes when medical people are caring and kind.  I think it would be hard to keep up.  An anonymous elderly person who can't converse, your 40th patient this week...why not just be all brisk and no-nonsense instead of taking the time to be kind and conversational?  But all the ones I've met are nice.  Blessed are the merciful...

And now I will try to sleep a little and let angels vigil keep.


  1. I'm sorry for Paul's Mum and pray for a quick recovery. You are lucky to be able to spend so much time at her side. When I was in ICU for a week, visits were very limited and definitely not at night. (didn't get any visits anyway).


  2. Sorry to hear about Anne. I'll be praying. Let her know I care. I was just thinking about her yesterday.

  3. hospitals and airports - never made that connection before but no wonder I was thinking, when my grandma was in the hospital, how un-restful hospitals are.

    We always descend on the hospital in hordes, too, when one of our family members is there. I think there is an unspoken credo that the sick one is not allowed to be alone. So comforting.

    I'll pray your mother-in-law will have a speedy recovery.

  4. Now you begin to understand a bit of my daily life...

  5. I just heard today that Anne is in the hospital. Praying for all of you.
    Hope Krabill