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The uneven road to recovery

(Ed. Note: Due to user error by the author, the post Out of ICU did not get shared until a number of days after it actually occurred.)

I have always known – and comforted many others with – the reality that recovery or healing is not a straight line. You have good days and bad days. It is steps forward and hopefully not as many backward.

Deane’s move out of ICU into a transitional ward started slowly as the team got to know him. Eventually, however, things got into gear. He was spending time out of bed and in his wheelchair – steadily increasing the amount of time he could tolerate it. He was breathing comfortably even spending an hour with his trach “corked,” meaning he was breathing on his own around the tube in his throat and still maintaining the all-important blood saturation levels.

It was all heading in the right direction. There was even talk about the trach coming out and going home – although without a specific timeline.

Then, eight days after his transfer, Deane hit a bump. We got one of those early morning calls no one wants to receive. Tracheostomies have some inherent risks. One of them, as a doctor put it to us, is that you are putting a hole into the body where one isn’t supposed to be. The trach is very close to some arteries including a crucially important one. The call from the hospital said Deane was bleeding from his trach. They were working to stabilize him and he had been moved to the ICU.

By the time we got to the hospital, the bleeding had stopped (meaning it was not an artery issue) and Deane was stable. A temporary removal of his trach, a bronchostomy (scoping his lungs with a camera) and a CT scan did not reveal the cause of the bleeding.

Deane said he had been very scared and, for the rest of the day, was leery of medical staff approaching his trach. The doctors have decided we should spend a few more days in the ICU so they can observe him. Deane will continue to lead us on his path of healing, hopefully with few more bumps.

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