Sometimes things don’t go the way you think they should go or the way you want them to go. Disappointment tries to dig deeply into the soil of your heart where discouragement can grow. You wonder will things turn around. You feel defeated but try to remain positive.
Wednesday, January 17 was a day filled with good news. It was Day 20 in the hospital for my husband Thomas whom I affectionately refer to as my Warrior Husband. And on social media his hashtag is #healedhusband
After a few rough days in the hospital, Wednesday greeted us with a smile. Thomas had been on a feeding tube for awhile, and the doctors wanted to remove the tube on Friday, January 12 but Thomas failed the swallow evaluation. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again, so Thomas was given another swallow evaluation on Monday, January 15 but once again he failed. The doctors said they’d try again the next day. Thomas was determined to pass on Tuesday but he wasn’t given the opportunity to be tested because the machine needed to do the swallow evaluation broke. Thomas was dejected. I encouraged him by reminding him that a delay is not a denial and he could try tomorrow because I’m sure the machine would be repaired by then. Thomas was so ready to have that tube out of his nose. Nasogastric intubation is a medical process involving the insertion of a plastic tube through the nose, past the throat, and down into the stomach. Thomas was given liquid food through the tube. When you’re in a coma I’m sure this isn’t troublesome, but when you are fully conscious and alert like Thomas is the tube is quite annoying. Thomas was so over that tube and ready to eat regular food again. On Wednesday, January 17 Thomas was given a swallow evaluation for the third time and he passed. Yes! Bye Bye feeding tube.
Shortly after the removal of the feeding tube the doctors informed us, Thomas’ oxygenation had improved so he could be taken off high flow oxygen, and just use a nasal cannula for a little extra oxygen to help him breathe. Thomas had gone from intubation, to a BiPAP machine, to high flow oxygen, to a nasal cannula. Thomas was so happy to almost be back to breathing on his own without any mechanical assistance.
Thomas felt two steps closer to better health. We celebrated with a Pleasure Peach smoothie from Jamba Juice. He had been craving one for about two weeks. It was the first thing he wanted when the feeding tube was removed. Our dear friend Micayla who also happens to be the Praise & Worship Leader at our church was so sweet to bring it to him. I can imagine that first sip tasted like biting into a juicy Georgia peach on a hot and humid summer day. . . sweet and refreshing.
Wednesday was a great day with several wins. We could see the light at the end of the tunnel and were so grateful. And then Thursday came.
Thomas did not sleep well Wednesday night, and by Thursday morning his breathing was labored and the carbon dioxide level in his blood was three times what it should be. As the day progressed his breathing worsened and the carbon dioxide level rose. After only being discharged from ICU less than a week ago, the doctors said it was best for Thomas to return to ICU. So on Thursday, January 18 Thomas returned to the Intensive Care Unit. Talk about taking the wind out of our sails. Why were we going backwards.
Thomas was transferred to ICU and I had to sit in the waiting area while they got him set up in his new room. I was told someone would be out shortly to get me. I waited and I prayed. Approximately 20 minutes went by and then a familiar face approached me. It was Gwen! One of our favorite ICU nurses. I was like what are you doing here? I asked this question because Gwen typically only works days. She said they asked me to work the night shift tonight and I’m going to be your husband’s nurse. I wanted to jump up and hug her. You see, Gwen is like a Super Nurse. She studies her patients and anticipates their needs. She is proactive and is detail oriented. I knew Thomas would be in excellent hands with Gwen as his nurse. She thoroughly explained everything that was going on with Thomas and what they were going to do to bring his Co2 level down. She was confident and reassuring.
Thomas was put on a BiPAP machine Thursday night, and on Friday afternoon continuous 24/7 dialysis started, and he was also taken off all opioids. This combination brought Thomas’ Co2 level down and once again he is breathing better.
It’s easy to focus on the perceived defeat and get discouraged but we must remember sometimes a Setback is just a Set-up for a Step Up.