Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Penthouse Suite, Communication and a Good Night Kiss

As would become our custom while my mom was here, I again went in as early as I could while still getting a decent amount of sleep, and she would give Elliot a chance to be in his own environment before having to go to the hospital. I really wanted Elliot to be there as little as he HAD to be, but also spend some time with me, his Mama, and see his Papa though as of yet he hadn't. 

  The ICU rules said 12, even immediate family, for both the visiting child's health and the patients.  If something were to happen and the patient need resuscitation or emergent help it would be easier if there weren't children under foot and having to deal with a scary situation. The ICU is also home to a lot of "super bugs" and it made sense not to expose the little guys to that.

As we hung out in Brian's room, him mostly asleep, I caught up on email and facebook, the messages continued to pour in, and I relished reading every one. In the first few days I quickly realized it would be impossible for me to personally reply to every message or email, which I still wish I could have.  They really meant so. much. 

Brian was responding a lot more and even communicating though his voice was still really quiet and whisper like. Our sister Rachel stopped by meeting Grandma Gwen who was watching her boy Henry and we showed Brian a picture of himself- we were unable to procure a mirror that would reach his face since the collar prevented him too much movement. He grimaced to see himself, and I again explained what had happened and his injuries.

My aunt Karen came and visited until Elliot got there with Nana, Grandma, Lana and Henry.  She then took him for the day with plans for him to come back that evening with other friends. He did a lot of car hopping as well as people hopping! Praising God for Elliot's patience through everything! 

We spent another day camped out in the waiting room, relinquishing the private room for another family.  It was strange to think about other families who had been there for days watching US be the newbies and hear all the news, the doctors coming in and shutting the doors to have a conference and the faces emerging, drawn and resigned. Having worked there, I recognized the bereavement package the family emerged with. It was so hard to watch them walk past us to the elevator, their shoulders slumped, pain tangible. At the time, I don't think I realized how close we had come to getting the green booklet ourselves. 

The trauma doctors came by on their daily rounds and dangled the possibility of transferring to the floor and out of the Intensive Care Unit. They were concerned where to send him because the floor that usually takes head/neck/spine traumas was the seventh floor, Brian's home floor.  His coworkers would be taking care of him, and they wanted to respect Brian's privacy and make sure he was comfortable with that. I asked him several time, rephrasing several times to make sure he understood and every time he said he would go there. I agreed, they're the best at what they do, and I would rather go to a floor that knows best how to care for Brian's injuries than to a different floor for privacy. I assured Brian I would be his CNA and that it would just be Nursing care he would get there. I wouldn't want MY coworkers helping me bathe! 

 Brian worked with OT- standing up, even- and asked me to help him brush his teeth. I had been pretty vigilant with the teeth brushing, being a bit of a fanatic myself, but it was good for Brian to take the initiative. Before we were married I had made Brian promise if I were ever in a wreck or a position where I couldn't do it myself that he would come brush my teeth and wash my hair. He said he would, and I agreed to marry him. And repaid the promise. 

That afternoon, when spending time with Trenton and his Mum, Brian was trying very hard to get something across.  He finally rubbed his stomach and got eat out with his voice. They rang the nurse and he got to "eat" an ice chip and try a drink of water. Both made him cough and cough, and the nurse surmised he wasn't QUITE ready to eat real food or even be evaluated by speech therapy. I think the concern was a combination of having been asleep for five days, and intubated, his throat may have "forgotten" how to swallow, and on the other side of the coin, that it's impossible to know if that part of his brain was injured in the fall: maybe he didn't know how to swallow any more.

As we were waiting in the lobby, one of the social workers I knew from my employment walked by and stopped to check in on us. She explained that she thought all employees automatically qualified for short and long term disability after the hospital merger, instead of having to opt in like before. I had wondered how I would find out if Brian had checked that box on the benefit form last November.  Stacy promised to look into it and get back to us... and it was so!  I could only sigh with relief! God was so good!  She could find that out because she had the same benefits, and Brian worked there, again, I was so thankful we were at Southwest, and that it was automatic!  It wasn't his whole salary, but it was something. I couldn't even imagine how the bills would pile up and I knew I would be willing to go back to work if I needed to, but hadn't even thought that far ahead.

After we were all sure Brian understood what we were asking and what he was saying, we got the okay to move up the 7th floor and the best view in the world.  Marisyl was there again, and she got everything ready for the transfer, but we waited for a bed to open up and didn't actually end up transferring until late in the afternoon. She didn't mind, since Brian was doing so well and she'd been there now four days in a row.  Before we left, she inserted a nasogastric feeding tube, going into his nose and down to his stomach to give him some nutrition. His last real meal had been Friday night, since we were going out for breakfast, and it was now Thursday.  No wonder he was so hungry! He had also lost quite a bit of weight, down to 120 and they were worried about his recovery if he couldn't regain it by eating regular foods. 

   Some of my ex-coworkers had been floated to help transport patients and it was crazy to see them after almost a year off, and they were so sweet in helping scoot Brian over to the seventh floor bed and carry buckets of stuff upstairs.

Where we were met graciously and taken the best care of. We got the room with the best view, and here's the best thing: We were shed of the volunteer wardens and Elliot could go into the room.

 As soon as he was settled and everything in place, I went to the waiting room and got Elliot from my Mom, and we three went back. 

 "Look, Elliot," I said. "Papa has owie. Poor Papa, has an owie!"

 Elliot signed "pain" and then "pain" again with "more," seeming to understand his Papa had a really bad owie, and more than I thought he would. Brian tried to reach out and pet him, and his mouth worked to get the words out  
"Hey, Buddy."  
 I hadn't thought to worry if Brian would know Elliot or not. 
Of course he would. But when Brian did know him, relief filled my every pore. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Jesus.
Photo: Yay! The whole family together for the first time since Saturday morning!!

We tried to keep the number of people in his room to a minimum, and our nephews, Ethan and Espen, were pretty pumped to be able to go finally see one of their favorite people, thought disappointed to find the waiting room to look almost exactly the same. They were really intrigued with the staples on Brian's head, a little apprehensive but also curious. 

We spent the evening taking turns going back and forth visiting Brian and finally packing up the waiting room. There were bags of food, Elliot's stroller, diaper bag and car seat which got a lot of mileage being brought from car to hospital to different car to hospital and back to my car. We had our little laptop, our big camera, my backpack of snacks and guestbook, paperwork that seemed to grow daily- Brian's leave of absence paper work and checks I hadn't deposited. We would pack it all up and make a mass exodus to the cars, usually myself, my mom, Elliot, Mum and Dad Wilson and Lana, with a few stragglers. 

That night I went back alone to say good night, and told Brian I was going to bring Elliot home for the night, and he nodded, saying, "Have a good night." and then.

He puckered right up. 

It was the sweetest kiss I have ever had. Even the first one, on our wedding day couldn't compare. It went from my lips straight to my heart and settled there, making it swell and swell till I felt I would burst with its wonder. 
As we walked to our cars, the air was balmy and warm, Elliot was solid and sweet in my arms, my Mom was there and the sweetest in laws a girl could have, and the magic of my first kiss in a week still lingered.  My heart felt so light and happy, I let out a woop.

And it felt so good, I did it again, and me and Elliot and my Mama went wooping with happiness, twirling with joy like crazy people in the warm evening. 

I was so happy. 

God is so good! He had already done so much! I couldn't wait to see what He would do next.

Every evening when I got home, I would get the mail, sort out the piles, cards, junk, bills, carefully recording people's gifts and recapping the day for Brian, when he wakes up. I usually put some laundry going, and tried to tidy things up a little bit. I would have a little snack, lay Elliot down and drag myself to bed around eleven. 

Thinking back, I see that was all I could manage. It didn't feel hard, but I couldn't do anything but go straight to the hospital and come straight home. Anything else made me feel panicky- what if I missed something with Brian? And I was on autopilot a lot of the time, doing what I needed to and little else. They were sorting through my sweet sweet great grand parents house and I so badly wanted to go there, to see it, to help, pick out a treasure to remember them by for myself, but every day I would tell myself: I could go on my way to the hospital, but the next morning the need to get to the hospital and see Brian was too great and I could only go straight to the hospital and see him. 



  1. Rosa, a sweet kiss indeed. From my heart to yours, Auntie Jen

  2. I love reading your journey. I am so glad by this day that I was there. I saw God there my Rosa girl. We all did!

  3. Rosa, each time I visit your blog, even if there isn't a new post, I get God chill bumps, and tears in my eyes, and a lump in my throat. God IS SO GOOD!!