Deane transferred out of the ICU today.
He went more than 24 hours without any assistance breathing so as far as intensive care was concerned, their job was done. At about 1:30, Deane rode his bed through the back halls of the hospital up to the orthopaedic floor.
This is the goal for which Deane has been working so hard. So why am I not over-the-moon happy?
Part of the answer is that because Deane is feeling better, he is more awake and wants more out of those staying with him. He wants to be entertained. Whereas before it was a matter of comforting Deane and interacting with the adults who are treating him. Now it is changing videos, reading books, explaining why he can’t have the drink of water he desperately wants and avoiding telling him that home is months away. We are more tired than a week ago, but more is expected from us.
My lack of enthusiasm is also because of the difference in the two departments. It’s not that one is better. They are just different. The goal in the ICU was to stabilize Deane’s breathing and eliminate his dependency on external oxygen. They were obviously aware of his hip surgery (his legs are in soft casts and separated by a large styrofoam wedge) but it was secondary. Since it is his left lung that is compromised, they did not want him lying on that side in case more secretions pooled there. The head of his bed was raised as upright as his hip could take.
Now that we are back in orthopaedics, his surgery is of primary importance. When they turn him on his side his top leg sticks way up in the air – significantly higher than it did in ICU. His bed is flatter because they are most concerned about the angle of his body to legs. They don’t want to turn him on his right side because that is the side with the incision. They had him in a wheelchair today to help stretch his legs.
Whether it is the different focus or because he had a restless and not restful day, after we came up here Deane’s oxygen saturation levels were dipping and setting off the alarm. It was within a percent or two of the acceptable level, but the nurses were on him with the suction tube as soon as he coughed. Once he feel asleep his level dipped to the mid-80s a couple of time and they were talking about putting him back on oxygen.
No one ever said recovery was a straight line upwards. There are great improvements, plateaus and slides backward. It’s a microcosm of life. Very few of us can say our lives have been continually improving without pauses or setbacks.
I guess I just have to take a deep breath and accept the good, the bad and the sideways – even when they all seem to be happening at once.