Tag Archives: ICU Nurses are the best

A Beer with Ted

Today was my appointment to pick up Ted from the cremation place. I had no idea what I would be feeling, so I took the afternoon off. The cremation facility was not too far from the hospital, so I had decided I would swing by the hospital first and drop off a plate of the home made Christmas decorated cookies that the kids had come up and made with us yesterday. I was a bit shaky walking up to the ICU with emotions creeping in that this was a different mission and that Ted wasn’t at the end of the long walk up to ICU anymore.

My melancholy vanished at the sight of the main nurse that had taken care of us both so well. I got to talk and laugh some really good laughs with her and got to see and hug some of my other nurses as well. So, by the time I left, I was feeling thankful and no longer sad.

It was a beautiful drive to the cremation place. It was unseasonably warm – I drove with the window down – and the route followed the Platt River and it just felt like a good day.

The cremation place was locked and you had to ring the buzzer for entry. For a second, it felt like a secret entrance to a speakeasy lounge or something. Inside, it looked like a small reception area for the times that they host funerals or calling hours. I produced my ID and they produced a rather heavy black polymer container holding Ted’s ashes. They also provided the death certificates and the travel papers should I be traveling with his ashes anywhere beyond going home. It amused me that I should have to take a passport of such if I was to be hauling his entire remains around.

It was so nice out that I really felt like it was the kind of day that Ted and I would stop and enjoy the day and have a beer together somewhere. I quickly cycled through some breweries that I remembered being in the area, thinking that I could take Ted into a bar and we still could have a beer together today. It didn’t take long for me to dismiss the thought. Walking into a bar with my dead husband’s ashes sounded a bit too much like the start of a joke, and really, his bar at the house was where we should have a beer, so I headed home.

No one was home when I arrived, so I took Ted down and sat him atop the bar, got out a beer, poured half into a small glass for me and left the other half in the bottle, next to his box. This was how we often spit a beer. I got the small glass and he finished what was left in the can or bottle. I had just toasted and had a few sips of beer when Devin arrived home with his skateboarding friend. He asked what I was doing (I was not normally at home at this time in the afternoon) and I told him. His face registered some shock (I guess I failed to relay that I was picking up the ashes today), but he quickly recovered and he asked if he could have a swig of his Dad’s beer . I said sure, and together, we again toasted and then decided to check out the contents of the box.

We both commented that the ashes were grittier to the touch (through the bag) than we had expected. We closed the box back up and the kids headed back out to the skate park. I came upstairs and hooked up Ted’s office computer to do some work, but felt like I didn’t get to finish my little talk with Ted, so I headed back downstairs. I told him that I needed him to help me out with some of his secrets. I started with where to find the magic switch for the hidden TV in the bar. I found one of his headlamps in the bar area and proceeded to really delve into checking out the space once more. It only took maybe ten minutes and I found the switch. Ok then, I said, lets work on where are the guns and some of the money you have hidden. We had an issue earlier this year where we felt we should move all the guns and I generally don’t give a hoot where he puts stuff, so I wasn’t made privy to the new hiding spots. I went to where I felt he would most likely have stashed some of the stuff and in another 15 minutes or so, found the guns, some silver coins, one stash of cash (I’m sure there is a few hundred here and there, so more likely to be found). I had already looked in all of these spaces, but for some reason, today, Ted seemed to be directing me to spaces where I needed to look but had not gotten to in prior searches.

Who knew that all I needed was to do was sit down, have a beer with Ted and ask. Thanks Ted for the early Christmas presents. I hope I don’t have to have a beer every time I have a question. LOL

All in all it was a much better day than I was afraid it would be. Just goes to show you that you shouldn’t project what might happen and should instead flow with what does happen and appreciate it.

It is good to have Ted back in the house today.

Love Sally

Mike Ted’s Party

Ted has been in the ICU since October 19th and today he got out.

He didn’t walk out with me like I had hoped, but his spirit is free from the horrid Covid and free from his ravaged body. Everything went sideways today and he just couldn’t overcome it.

My first emotion is shock followed by an overwhelming gratitude. I’ve been lucky and have thirty some years of memories to hold fast to. While I know he is gone, my mind – or maybe it’s my heart – doesn’t want to believe it. I feel like I’ll go home and he’ll be in the garden messing with his water storage system and making sure nothing will freeze in the next cold spell. He’ll be mad that we didn’t fold up the plastic for the secondary greenhouse and will comment that the heater for the bees isn’t how he wants it – but will acknowledge that at least we tried and it should work. He’ll be exasperated at why we haven’t brought more wood over and gotten it cut and split because you know we are going to get hit by cold and snow before we know it.

I also feel lost. We have been part of each other for 32 years and can’t imagine what this will be like. I am also now so use to coming to the hospital everyday and watching his care and connecting with this incredible hospital family of folks who have cared for the both of us, that I feel sad for losing them as well as Ted. Weird I know, but I do get attached to folk. (well, some I am holding onto and will definitely stay in touch with, but still.)

I’m the one use to adventures and having Ted there at home to return to. Now he has gone onto the eternal adventure and I’m left as the one at home.

It is going to take the brain trust of everyone we know just to figure out all of the contraptions and things that Ted has contrived in and around the house. I hope I can find at least some of his hidden stashes. He never much read manuals, but I sure wish he had written one to go with all the switches, hidden compartments, LED setups that are abundantly thoughout the interior and exterior of the house. This just may be the worlds next mystery.

Ted was my guy. I could bitch at him, to him, make fun of him, love him, want to kill him, make him three full coarse meals a day if we were both home, find his tools when he couldn’t remember where he set them down and threatened to buy five of whatever was missing so that he would always have the tool handy. He was my guy who could fix anything and if he couldn’t, he’d make sure it was so broken that no one could. He’s been the only guy I even ever dreamt about. I mean I have friends that have really good hot dreams with all kinds of famous people, but my hot dreams always had Ted in them.

One of my dear friends that is across country booked a flight yesterday so that she could come be with me for a while. I think some angel must have known and whispered into her ear that the time to come was now.

I’ll be around for hugs and will need lots of those and will return them as I know so many of you also need a hug because Ted wasn’t just my guy, he was lots of people’s guy and it isn’t just me that lost him today.

Ted’s body won’t be around, but Ted’s energy will always be in our midst. There will be tons of reminders for us all.

I feel like we’ll need a memorial cornhole tournament at some future date for us all to celebrate his time with us. Maybe a pig roast to go with. I don’t know, but with everyone’s help, we shall figure it out.

He’d want a party.

I want Ted.

I don’t suppose there will be a daily update now, but I’m sure thoughts will eek out and I’ll share since you have come this far with me.

Hug your loved ones today, tell them you love them, get vaxed if you haven’t already.

Thank you for being a part of his and my lives.

Love Sally

Dealers Choice

Today I came in and Ted’s mouth sores were so much better. Or maybe I should say that the bloody scabs finally succumbed to all of the meds and moisture that has been copiously applied and so they had released and in turn, he looked so so much better.

They tried to come out of the sedation a slight bit, but Ted’s body would have none of it and everything was precarious for a time again. Luckily that wasn’t when any of his visitors had been around. His lungs continue to decline and his O2 stats rapidly drop if he has any movement with his body. Even repositioning him seems to take it out of him anymore whether he is sedated like an elephant or just like a bear. Either way, he is under copious amounts of sedation (along with the paralytic) and that too takes a toll on a body.

While I have always known that this is not really in any of our hands, I am starting to feel that Ted is folding his hand in this poker game and going home with the dealer. Every time that his body is given a chance, it says Heck NO and they have to take measures to take him out of the equation once again so that the body can be made to work without his influence. It feels like somebody’s hand will be forced very soon and either he’s been holding Aces or we will know that we have all gone “all in” and have lost this game.

A friend texted me today that : If love could clear Ted’s lungs and dry my tears, I’d be on my way home.” Truer words could not be said. I get asked alot from the Doctors/nurses/staff, if I have the support around me to cope with this. I always reply that I am perhaps the most blessed person alive with all of the support that has been mounted for Ted and myself. If love and support could fix his lungs, this would have been over long ago.

As for tonight, all bets are off and hoping for a new hand tomorrow.

Than you all for your continued love and support.

Love Sally

Not a good day for Auto Pilot

I have been noticing that I have been maneuvering though mindless tasks mainly on autopilot these days. I do this, only to notice, at some point, that I’m not sure where I am, either physically, or in the completion of the task. I mean, I will be driving and suddenly look around and can’t say for sure where I am until I pass a landmark to reorient myself.

Today when I left the house, my autopilot had me driving in the wrong direction (to work instead of to the hospital). I turned around and headed the other direction and went to check my phone to see what time it was and realized I didn’t even have my phone with me. I guess it was good I had been going in circles for a bit or I might have really been late to the hospital.

When I arrived this morning to the hospital, Ted’s ABG’s were not good (the blood gases). Dr. Smart (actual name, not to be confused with Brilliantly Harsh) was concerned about the pressure resistance from his lungs, so decided that instead of having the ventilator force a certain volume of air into his lungs, they would set the vent onto it’s version of autopilot. The vent would sense how much volume of air Ted’s lungs could take and give it that amount. That way, we wouldn’t have to worry about forcing too much air into his fragile lungs.

Well, that was a big fail. The machine was trying to make his breaths more shallow since his lungs were too stiff to accept the previously allotted amount, but Ted’s body could feel he wasn’t getting enough oxygen and co2 was building and he kept involuntarily trying to over breath the machine. They tried adjusting the Peep, the breaths, they had him on 100% and still he was not doing well. His blood gasses were now off the charts and we suddenly had 5 people all in the room working on something.

They checked that he didn’t have a collapsed lung – he didn’t, then they tried to put him in the prone position after administering the paralytic once again. While this had worked in the past with success, this time, his body rejected that position really quickly. His O2 dropped like a rock and they had to flip him back over once more. They then performed a bronchoscopy to look at his lungs from the inside. They were able to see and do what needed to be done, and then gave him a big dose of diuretics to try to drain all excess fluid from his body and lungs.

He is back to being paralyzed and in synch with the ventilator and his blood gases are back to being in a level of concern instead of the critical level that they were.

I’m just not sure how much more his body can take, but tonight, we are back to some stability.

No more autopilot for either one of us.

Love Sally

Dear Ted

Today is a bad day. Today, It honestly looks like you have already mostly left the room – so to speak. The Doctors and Nurses are hovering and seem to just be waiting for the final decision to be made to blow the whistle and call the game. They know that I don’t want to mark a Thanksgiving holiday as the day you pass from this realm to the next, but everyone walks around like it is now a forgone conclusion. It will either by my decision or nature will make it for me, but the outcome seems destined to be the same in their eyes.

I so badly want to kick your bed over, and punch you hard. I also want to gather you in my arms and never let go. Neither are really an option.

Everyone in here has heard the stories of you. Of how we met. Of how halfway through our month long honeymoon you got homesick and asked if I would mind cutting it short so that we could go to the Browns vs Broncos game that weekend (the answer was heck NO). Of how you are labeled as “Overkill Fill” for always going above and beyond where anyone has gone before in your projects. How “Ted Head” is a real thing and everyone knows what a bad hair day should be referred to. They know you cannot sit still – probably why you require more sedation and paralytics than a standard elephant during your time here in the hospital. They know you are gentle with lots of little things, but especially little girls and bunnies. Of how you are a great skier and a ringer at cornhole. They know you are ok to travel if there is action involved and you know what the bathrooms will be like. They know that you support me in nearly anything I say I am going to try or travel to, even if it is without you. They know you are fun and know how to throw a good party and that you have built a bar with more tricks and hidden treasures than any house ever. They know you have a waterfall feature that you have built, rebuilt, tinker with each year, have colored LED lights to coordinate to music and did it all yourself. They know you have two sons whom you love more than you say to them and are so proud of the men that they are. They now you can fix almost anything, and make things that others dream about. They know you are a good guy who just ended up in the wrong news feeds and in the end, wished you had been vaccinated.

Every first year of change with us has always been a hard year for me. That first year of marriage was a struggle to be as one unit, but not lose ourselves. The first year of having a child was tough as all of a sudden we had this extra love in our life and it took attention away from each other to which we were unaccustomed to. The first year of working together was a lesson in total communication as it was fairly quickly learned that any breakdown in communication effected every hour of the day. Then the first year of not working together (eighteen years later) was also hard, as all of a sudden, we didn’t know what was happening in every moment of each others life. It was like losing half the channels on your TV all at once.

I joke about when you will be gone. I mean, our friends have all watched you digging huge holes in the garden and joked that it needs to be just a little larger as you won’t quite fit into it yet. I’ve only joked because you are healthy and I know you will be around to drive me crazy long into our old age. That is until now. I could never have pictured you this gravely ill if I had tried. It felt like things were headed in a good direction, but that seemed to be the little bit of lungs you had left trying but then getting overrun. I cannot think about what the first year without you will be like and I still pray I won’t have to know that for a long time, but it looks more and more like I’ll know sooner than later.

I stopped by the patient administrator’s office earlier to ask if she had a printer that I could print to. She did not, but asked how I was – she was the one to say you would need long term critical care after this and I’m sure she has since been informed that it will likely not be needed now. I was honest and said that I wasn’t great and this was hard. She asked if I had support to help me. I let her know that we have the best support in the world. That you have more people praying and thinking about you from all over this wide world. Love isn’t anything we are in short supply of. What we need is for your lungs to open up like the Red Sea, for air to flood your lungs like Noah’s flood.

Ted, I still want to ski with you. I still want to camp with you. I still want to cook every single meal for you. I still want you around. Please try hard.

I love you,

Sally

Ted’s stats were for shit when I arrived. His blood pressure was up, his breathing was bad, they upped his oxygen to 80%. But as the day progressed, he settled, he looked better, they replaced his breathing tube, they dropped the oxygen back to 60% and he seams better than in the morning. Here’s hoping he has an uneventful night and tomorrow is a better day. I declined to speak to the brilliant Dr today. I listened in on rounds, but really couldn’t take another talk, so I kept to my nurses today.

Somebody’s Miracle

Life is full of miracles. And if you look, you can see the miracles in every day as well. Yesterday, I stood at Ted’s bed and told God and Ted that if he is to be getting out of this, then a clear sign of improvement is needed fast. I felt slightly better. I mean, I’ve always known that the outcome is out of my hands, but this felt like a clear passing of the baton.

I went out with my two favorite nurses last night and it was great. They sheepishly admitted that they had never before gone out with a family member of a patient, and truth be told, it is likely frowned upon, but this felt like the time to make an exception if there ever was one. We talked like a group that had met at a retreat or camp or something and you want to know everything about one another before everyone is dispersed and gone home at the end of summer. When it came to talking about Ted and his critical care, at least I didn’t have to explain anything about what was going on and we could just talk openly about everything.

Some time in the middle of the night last night, I awoke and had a thought. I wondered that if Ted is not to have a miracle and have his lungs recover, should we explore if his passing could be a miracle for someone else. I mean, his only pre-existing condition was that he wore a hearing aide (yes, just one as he lost the other one shortly after his extensive search, purchase (from South Korea – yes, this is probably another story to be told) and then wearing them for just a few weeks).

I brought it up to my nurse this morning and she couldn’t speak to how Covid would effect organ donation. Then, when the Dr. came around, my nurse and I brought it up to her. Turns out, you call the transplant group, they evaluate and let you know. My nurse gave them a ring. Now, don’t go thinking that we are ready to cash in all of Ted’s cards for someone else just now. We just need to be informed in order to make decisions. We hope this is a mute point and just good information to know. Turns out that complete organ donation is off the table due to him having Covid so recently. They did say that eyes, tissue and bones are a choice though.

In the meantime, they have turned the number of breaths down to 24 and have increased his sedation so that he is not over-breathing again. The pressure resistance that the ventilator registers when pushing air into his lungs has increased – meaning he has less space for the air to go, meaning the lungs are getting worse still. They hope with the fewer breaths and sedating him enough to keep him synchronized, we can buy more time for healing.

I don’t know if it is the increase in sedation again, or what, but he seems more peaceful today than yesterday. I told the nurse that I wanted to push him over to the other side of the bed and just crawl in with him for a bit, but she didn’t jump in to make it happen, so I took it as a no.

Thanks everyone for your wishes, prayers, hopes and time with us – physically and energetically.

We love you all.

Sally