By Mark Noble
As I approached Nancy in intensive care, and saw her breathing tube and the pain she was in Wednesday, I almost lost it. I didn’t expect to find her in this condition, especially after hearing how great Michelle had been.
Nancy had some questionable blood PH factors, among other things, and a decision was made to leave her on the breathing machine. However, I could see and sense how painful it was, so my very first “real” advocacy kicked into high gear.
First, I asked the resident for her care what the status was. Next, I inquired with the respiratory care person and then a nurse. I started to share the “pain” she was in, and they decided to run another “breathing test” to make sure Nancy could indeed breathe on her own. Meanwhile, I got them to give her more pain medication, including something to calm her nerves as she was clearly upset.
The breathing test took 30 minutes. During that time, Nancy was tested on her breathing, her ability to breathe on her own and whether she was taking enough breaths combined with how often the ventilator had to kick in. My observations were bringing me to tears, honestly, because she was not doing well, but all around me they kept encouraging her.
When this test was completed, the original surgeon came in and offered his opinion, which was to remove the tubes. He said it was up to the ICU physician, who thankfully concurred on this recommendation and that of the resident physician. I couldn’t wait to tell Nancy, and I left her for about 10 minutes for the procedure.
The nurse came to get me. Nancy couldn’t speak, but I could see a small bit of joy in her eyes having no longer to breathe through tubes. She wanted to tell me something but couldn’t get it out. She asked for a pen and paper, but I couldn’t find any. Lots of clipboards were around, but they all said “do not bring into patient room,” so I thought that wouldn’t be sterile. I presented an iPhone and said “do your best to tell me what you need.”
Her answer was “change channel.”
Apparently, the TV show wasn’t to her liking. It was then, at that moment, that I knew everything would indeed be fine.
More to come post-ICU.