Solemn Anniversary-Part V

Mike was practically laying flat on his back; though his head was slightly raised.   They had changed Mike’s clothes from his customary personal tee-shirt and lounge pants to a hospital gown.

Now he really looked like a patient in the ICU.

I went to him and grabbed his right hand.  But he was restrained!  I noticed then that both hands were restrained as if he was in a psych-ward, or he was dangerous to himself.  He was neither, so why restrain him?  I knew he wouldn’t like that one bit.  If he knew or was aware that he was restrained.

I said to him, hey Mike!  How’s it going?

What else do you say when your beloved is in a bed in the ICU unit, a respirator keeping him breathing, his mouth obscured by the tube inserted in his mouth?

He shrugged though!  He shrugged.  That told me he could hear me, he was conscious—sort of—and he was responsive.

We’ve all heard that coma patients can hear those around them, right?  That we should talk with them, maybe to help them come back to us.  I knew then that while Mike wasn’t in a coma and he was heavily sedated that he could hear, he was aware of where he was even in spite of the sedation.

I went up to him then, and I kissed his forehead.  I said, this is a fine mess you’ve gotten us into Ollie.

A reference to Laurel and Hardy, but he knew the reference because he and I would say that to each other whenever there was a problem we had to deal with.

He nodded his head in response but frowned too.

I asked him, do you know where you are?

He shook his head and shrugged.

I told him, you’re in the ICU unit still at the VA.

He frowned.

Then he shook his head and started getting agitated.  I stroked his head and told him it was alright, they’re fixing you up.  I understand you gave the doctors quite a scare.

I wanted to cry.  I wanted to sob.  I wanted to yank the respirator out of his mouth and I wanted to yank those restraints off his wrists.  I wanted to go get his street clothes and I wanted to take him home.  I wanted to run away from this horror.  I wanted to wake up from this nightmare and plead with God please don’t make this come true.

I was so scared. I was so lost.  I was so confused.  How do I do this…whatever THIS was?  I have no training.  I have no skills.  I have no knowledge.  I do not have the ability to deal with this without Mike’s help.  I can’t do this.

I gripped his hand then and he squeezed back.  Hard.  He was almost crushing my hand. I told him, ok Mike you’re kind of hurting me.  He relaxed his grip a little.  I told him then I love you.

He lightly squeezed my hand twice.  This wasn’t a new thing for him, that was Mike…he would grip my hand while we were in the car and squeeze it twice, or he would take my hand when we were in a group of people and squeeze it twice. So I knew Mike was definitely “there”.

I left then to find the nurse or nurses in charge of Mike.  I wanted to know why he was restrained.
I approached the nurses’ station which was in the middle of the room.

This particular ICU unit was set up in a circular fashion.  The nurses’ station in the center so they can see and monitor all patients.

As I approached two nurses immediately noticed and were open, inviting and said hello!

I will say here that nurses are essential personnel to all medical arenas.  Whether it’s a doctor’s office, a hospital, an urgent care or some other medical facility they are essential.  But I have to give kudos to ICU nurses. They have an ability to care for the patient’s family, to be compassionate and to give utmost exemplary attention/care to their patients.  I think it takes a special person to work in an ICU unit.

The nurses in this particular ICU unit did not disappoint my impression of ICU nurses.  One nurse, a male jumped up and came to me.  He came right up to me, not afraid of me or afraid that I’d be hysterical or angry or who knows what else.  I’m sure it’s not unusual for family members of patients in the ICU unit to run the entire gambit of emotions…we’re human right?  And in that circumstance we’re terrified.  Usually not at our best.  But this nurse wasn’t afraid of any of that.

He introduced himself, Zac, and asked if I was Mike’s wife.


He proceeded to explain to me all that the doctors had done, what they expected, what their plans are for Mike what their hopes are for Mike and that he was basically “in charge” of Mike and he was going to make sure that Mike had everything he needed.  I had no doubt he was sincere.  Because while he was talking to me, he did look at Mike, he would glance at his monitors and then look back at me and again at Mike.  He was multi-tasking like a pro!  Talking to me but never forgetting his job.

Wow!  Thank you!

I asked him then, why is Mike restrained?

Zac told me, “Because he’s strong!”

Yes…? And?

“Well he tried to pull out the respirator.  He almost got it out once but we were able to stop him.    It isn’t unusual that someone wants to pull the tube out, because it’s uncomfortable and not familiar but we need it to stay in.”  He said with a little chuckle.

“Then when we were working with the equipment his hand flew up and tried to pull it out again.  It took two of us to stop him.  So for his benefit we restrained him.  We can’t have him pulling it out.  Even as sedated as he is, he was still very strong.”

Ok.  That made sense to me.

He asked me, “Is there anything I can get you?  Is there anything you need?  Have you eaten because Mike can’t eat right now you can have his meal.”

What?  I’m not the patient here.  You asked me if I’ve eaten? I was not used to being acknowledged by these medical professionals which Mike and I have dealt with.  I was not offended that I was almost invisible to some as I really wanted the focus to be on Mike but when Zac asked about my welfare, I was pretty stunned.  I am not his patient nor am I someone to concern himself with…I was touched almost to the point of tears.  But I told him I was fine.

He looked at me for a few heartbeats and then said, “Ok if you’re fine Mike will be glad to hear it.  But if there’s something you need, please ask.”

I stood there still in my shock and all I could muster was, ok thanks.

I went back into Mike’s room.

I told him that his parents were waiting outside.  I told him Gabrielle was here too.  I told him I’ve asked your parents to find Ryan and bring him here.  Mike frowned at the mention of Ryan and then took a deep breath in through his nose.  A tear started falling down his check.

Mike, it’s going to be ok.  We’ll find Ryan and bring him here, ok?

He nodded.  His facial expression, even though he was sedated, showed that he didn’t believe me.  Maybe his disbelief was because I wasn’t certain and he heard it in my voice.


7 thoughts on “Solemn Anniversary-Part V

  1. Dear RoseChimera, most of the time I’m never at a loss for words. I think you know that. But sometimes I read something like this, and the feelings it evokes are so strong, that it’s difficult to think clearly – and therefore to write clearly. What you and Mike went through … it would feel almost disrespectful for me to say anything about it because it was so intense, and so sad, and so personal. You are incredibly strong to re-live it and write about. All I will say is that you really touched my heart. Way down deep.


    • Its still to come. I could tell you..but then I’d have to kill you! lol….Remember I didn’t KNOW why he was in the ICU…I never really found out clearly things just progressed at a pretty fast pace. I assumed now, in retrospect why he was there. I’m writing it in the way I lived it. Not quite clear as to the why behind the move to the ICU but maybe the dialysis? They don’t usually do that in ICU. The doctor said, “I was very worried about Mike” but I never really knew exactly why or worried about what. Or maybe I did know somewhere in my subconsciousness. Or Maybe I’ve looked back and can just add 2 and 2 together and surmise the reason for moving him. That conversation happened outside my presence and it was never repeated to me in anyway. Why they moved him…or what may have happened during those 12 hours I was gone. Holes in the story forever I guess.


    • I understand this may read like a work of fiction, but its all factual. All true. You probably know that given your experience with your child as well as your career…but I can well imagine people reading it and saying, that can’t happen! That doesn’t happen and so on. But you know it does as well as I do. Yes?


      • Yes… all too often. We have these “advanced communication” modules we do where we have actors come in and they give us difficult scenarios to practice with these actors. Scenarios like breaking bad news, abuse disclosure, adverse reactions, angry patients, etc. It is all about being efficient communicators, especially in situation where we will most likely be uncomfortable and where we have to make sure the people we are talking to understand what we are saying to them. As I read your story, I believe that every word is true… and the miscommunication with the medical staff doesn’t surprise me at all. What does surprise me, however, is the unbelievable behaviour exhibited by your in-laws. Disgusting.


      • I think the simplest way to look at the patients in a touch situation…you have to do it, you have to talk to them, you have to relay bad news unfortuantely…but the way to keep it burning you out is to remember its about THEM, not you. Its their life that is changing, not yours. (the doctors). Perhaps remembering that keeps it in proper perspective for the nurse or doctor relaying this bad news. I don’t knw, its just my thought.

        As for the inlaws….yes they were horrible…but babe you ain’t seen (read) anything yet. Trust me when I say they were as bad as anyone could be and still be alive to talk about it. Why God didn’t strike them dead half a dozen times I do not know. I guess He’ll explain it to me when I see Him one day.

        If you’re hugely impatient and want to know how bad they got AFTER the fact you can read about it on my blog. Its there already. The only way I can write this story is to do it out of order in a way. Wrote after the fact, parts of. writing now this part because he died in November and what I’m writing occured in November. The beginning has been written a while ago but I haven’t posted it. I will, just not now.


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