Thursday, February 18, 2010
It felt like Ben opened a door and walked back into his life again today. He barely remembers the events of the previous three days, which is the blessing of morphine and just as well. Today he was unplugged from all IV's, no longer on morphine (though on some other very strong pain med), and eating. He got up with less help and walked mostly on his own. Still shuffling, still baby steps, but even in this slow motion we are moving ahead.
His lung continues to be problematic but the doctors and nurses don't seem terribly concerned. He's had myriad x-rays taken of his lungs to assess the fluid levels. The critical care doctor reiterated tonight that part of his right lung remains collapsed due to mucous build up. Every four hours he has a therapy treatment which he abhors. A vest is velcroed around his chest. It is hooked up to hoses and fills with air and then shakes his chest, actually his whole body. His mouth and nose are covered with a mask that blows a sulphurous smelling medicine mist at him. He does this for 30 minutes. It hurts. But when he's not feeling the pain he makes it into a joke, humming or talking like a robot. Amazing that he can even have a sense of humor!
He can feel the rod in his back, a sensation I imagine he'll get accustomed to. Mark and I have seen it in x-rays and it is indeed straightening his spine. It is hooked onto three ribs and a lumbar vertebra. The hooks are screwed tight and it pushes up to help the staples do their work of straightening the spinal column. His titanium rod reminds me of the wooden supports the apple growers in Sebastopol use to prop up the heavily laden limbs in the orchards. We'll take Ben's support out when its work is done just the way the apple tree supports are taken away once the fall harvest is complete, though in Ben's case it will require anesthesia and morphine again. Ah well.
My cousin Hana (who lives in Philadelphia) came to visit tonight and was taken with Ben's whole demeanor. She walked into the PICU when he was undergoing the shake treatment and got to hear him use the robot voice. Then she accompanied us as we moved down to the surgical floor (which took several trips as we had already accumulated that much stuff!). Ben's new location is in a room shared with two other patients, and a bed for one more. A far cry from the cushy 10 x 15' private room in the PICU. Moving up and moving down!
Hana took me out to dinner at a really lovely Italian restaurant somewhere between the hospital and my hotel. It was relaxing not to have to worry about fending for myself dinner-wise. Hana and I always have a great connection when we see each other. She is my father's first cousin and knows quite a few stories about my dad's side of the family. I enjoyed our time together. Thank you, Hana!
Tomorrow (which is already today!) I will be finding alternate transportation to the hospital. I believe I'll take the bus. Last night as I was leaving Shriners the night guard said something to me about driving home and I said, "Oh no, I'm taking the subway." "Do you have a gun?" he said. I looked at him funny and went on my way, though it crossed my mind that he might actually have some information I was lacking. The nurses in the PICU and I were talking about my subway rides today and I mentioned that comment to them and it was agreed that I should NOT be taking the subway. Bus = above ground = ok. Subway = underground = not. I was so naïvely tromping down into the subway stations, getting my tokens, going down to the platforms, bundled in my parka and my knit hat and scarf, listening to my iPod and intent on my knitting (and getting off at the right stop) that I honestly didn't realize it was considered a dangerous place. I didn't feel threatened, so I'm not changing my course due to that. Just making sure I don't tempt fate too many times on this trip.
Thanks to all of you for the emails and comments. I like knowing you're here with us in spirit.
And now...time for bed.