There’s a lot of time spent doing nothing in hospitals.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take that any day over hurried action. In a hospital, that usually means something is going very wrong.

Obviously, the staff is not doing nothing, but as a support person you spend a lot of time waiting. Waiting for doctors or specialists to come in, waiting for test results, waiting for your patient to get better so you don’t have to spend so much time waiting around a hospital anymore.

It depends on who you are supporting and their condition. When Deane had his hip surgery 10 years ago, there was a lot of active waiting. Even when he was admitted to the ICU with his first collapsed lung, he was more interactive, at least partially because he wasn’t intubated. After he was out of the ICU, we were assigned tasks – get him drinking with a straw, make sure he is sitting with his legs up to keep them stretched, convince (unsuccessfully) him to attend the hospital school, continue to do his physio.

This time, Deane has not been himself since last Saturday. In fact his unresponsiveness was one of the things that convinced us he was really unwell and we should call the ambulance. Since then, Deane has either had oxygen masks over his face or been sedated and intubated. When he is awake you can communicate with him but he is likely to fall asleep any minute because of a combination of the sedatives and the fact that healing takes work.

The determination of when Deane is well enough to be moved out of the ICU or to a Toronto hospital is also based on time. How long can Deane breathe on his own without support of the ventilator. He is at about 12 hours a day without breathing support and is still getting more than the acceptable amount of constant oxygen. So each day we all, including Deane, put in time hoping to go longer without the ventilator.

So when will this hospital stay end? It is just a matter of time.



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