Sunday, May 10, 2009

Life is fragile. Respect it, and live it.

The last few days have been a whirlwind. I had a friend say that I’m going through hell, and I don’t buy that. It’s been challenging both emotionally and physically for sure. But the reality is, everyone will come out the stronger for it.

On Thursday, Traci went in to see her doctors because her Hickman Catheter site was infected. It actually appeared a few weeks back, but then antibiotics began to clear up the infection. But once the antibiotics had run there course, the site became infected again, and the doctors wanted to pull it out. (In case you don’t know what a Hickman is, check it out here The reality is, a Hickman should only be in for 6-8 months before they should be removed because of the risk of infection. Traci’s had hers for well over a year. It was just time to remove it.

The hospital was full however. So instead of admitting her, and getting her a room, they sent her down to the ER to wait in the hall with everyone else who has a whooping cough and the swine flu. Turns out, that’s not so good for someone with a compromised immune system (another attribute incurred from cancer patients having undergone Chemo), and we fought to get a room. The nurses were actually really great and stole a room for us as soon as one became available. The reality was, the hallways were lined with patients because the ER was so jam-packed. So getting a room was really a luxury.

But there in the ER, Traci sat. We waited, and waited for availability in the OR to remover the Hickman, and they kept coming in and saying “there was a trauma, and we couldn’t get you in.” Or, “we just had to bump you, and you’ll have to wait a little longer.” It was frustrating as her last meal was at 11AM on Thursday. Finally, I left at 4AM Friday morning because I still had to get the kids to school.

Friday came and went, and I got done with work and picked up the kids from Girl Scouts and dropped them at home with Traci’s grandparents. When I got back to the hospital at around 7PM, I found out that Traci had still not been offered anything to eat. I took out my anger at the Doctors and the Nurses there in the ER. Right there in the Nurses Station, I very loudly began to berate them for their lack of care, their inability to pay attention to a patient, and their sheer neglect for Traci as a person. It had been over 30 hours and she hadn’t been offered anything to eat. It was unacceptable, and I lost it. I screamed at the Doctors that they were Hitler, running this show and treating these patients worse than Jews in a concentration camp. I demanded that they get on the line with surgery and either get her in there now, or let her eat. The latter took place in moments.

On Saturday morning, Traci was set to have the IR attempt to install a new Pick line. This was difficult simply because prior to getting the Hickman, the doctors preferred that she get a Pick Line. But because the Graph vs. Host disease has attacked her skin so violently, and because her veins are so small, a Pick line was nearly impossible to install. After several failed attempts the last time, the physicians and surgeons finally relented and agreed to install the Hickman. Fortunately this time, a good vein was found on her right bicep, and after several tries, the surgeon finally was able to install the line. And later that evening, she went into the OR to have the infected Hickman Catheter removed.

Everything went smoothly. Traci was incredible through it all. She had a really positive attitude saying things like “well, thank goodness it was this weekend. I’d rather have it now than over Emma’s birthday, or the Wedding, or the Bridal Shower.” I couldn’t believe how great she was. There was of course the occasional crying, and there were plenty of complaints about the eating (or lack there of), but overall, I was amazed by her positive attitude and positive outlook on the whole situation. It was encouraging.

I also want to thank all of my friends who kept asking about how things were going, both through text and on twitter. It was extremely peaceful to have those positive affirming messages come through, just checking on us both. Your thoughts and prayers were absolutely felt, welcomed, and totally appreciated.

Mother’s Day was a day of recovery from the procedures. Traci is today in bright spirits. I brought her kids in to see her and visit for a while along with a Mom’s Day flower arrangement. It was a good time.

Now that things have settled down, I’m hopeful that Traci will be home by Tuesday. And the healing should have come far enough along that we can resume some form of normalcy. I’m missing that at the moment. I don’t like coming home to an empty house, or sleeping in a bed alone. I miss my partner. And I’ll be happy to have her home.

Some takeaways from all of this, a moral if you will; I’m so appreciative of life. It’s something that I think that all of us take for granted. It’s a gift. The ability to simply exist every day, and the ability to love. There are so many trivial things that can affect us every day, and damper our moods and our outlooks on life. I think that it’s important that we remember that the fact that we’re here to begin with is a miracle itself. I came away from this weekend simply happy that I have so many loved ones in my life. Thankful that my children are healthy and happy. And thankful that the woman that I am going to marry is going to come home. Everything else just seems to me to be less important. I’m not worried about the fact that I’m still behind two months in pay from my employer. I’m not worried about the trivial things in life. I intend on focusing on those items that bring about joy in my life, and that of others.


Andrew Seely said...

you are a wise man who knows how to learn from life, i am lucky to call you a friend.

cellis said...

There are no words for what you're doing for Traci. As her strength, voice, and warrior, you're her knight! Thank you for being just a great partner to her and for helping her through these tough, up and down days.
I could go on about HER good qualities, but for now, let me just say I'm proud you're my stepson! Love,Colette