45 days. Two hospitals. Three ambulance rides. Three collapsed lungs. Four bronchoscopies. Two intubations. One tracheostomy. A bowel infection and countless tube insertions, medicine alterations, litres and litres of mucus and saliva suctioned.
And Deane is finally out of the Intensive Care Unit.
What has this arduous, emotional and exhausting journey taught us?
- First and foremost is that Deane is one determined, patient and resilient young man. His quiet strength to endure every intervention and overcome each set back is what has kept us going. More than once we have been asked about Do Not Resuscitate orders, told we should think about long-term care facilities and explained how we should be ready for months in the hospital after the ICU. Each time we got gut punched, Deane just quietly continues to work on healing.
- Sitting at Deane’s bedside you can’t help but realize that nurses are the backbone of the healthcare system. They work 12 hours on their feet, keeping track of multiple patients, often different ones every day, with varying medical and medicinal needs and are responsible for all the dirtiest of tasks. They answered our questions, took our suggestions and input on Deane’s needs and habits. They treated Deane and us as individual people, not numbers in the system. They dealt with death and grieving families with a calm stoicism that was truly awesome to see. The staffing crisis is real and nurses deserve our respect and support for continuing to put the humanity into the system.
- We cannot say it enough that this experience has shown us what a vast system of support that Deane and we have. Regardless of how many tubes Deane had in his mouth, reading all your messages of encouragement brought a smile to his face. The food, the hugs, visits and expressions of concern have kept us going. The cliché exists for a reason: it does take a village.
As much as a relief as it is to get out of the ICU, our journey and Deane’s healing is not over. We are now in the Progressive Weaning Centre which is where we figure out the details and adjustments as Deane’s new reality becomes part of lives.