How do you process a brush with death when it isn’t your brush?
Twelve years ago, a month before our wedding, my fiance’s mother was admitted into the ICU with Septic Shock. She had a strep bacteria in her bood and it caused her to be placed in an induced coma and on a ventilator. At one point we were told she wouldn’t make it. We took turns by her bed around the clock, praying. God heard our prayers and the hospital staff called her a miracle. She was out of ICU by the time we got married, and our wedding party pictures were taken at the hospital with her. She was alive to meet her frist grandchild.
Five years later we were back in ICU, this time to say good-bye to my mother-in-law. She was back on the ventilator, this time the coma wasn’t induced. Her brain was infected, and it was shutting her body down. We stood around her as a whole family this time. Her husband, three sons and wives. Six grandchildren waited for their parents to come home. This time we watched her slowly slip away, peacefully. Her chest just stilling. This time, we didn’t hear the word “miracle” from anyone.
A week ago I walked back down an ICU hallway. It was a different hospital. A different mother.
This time, it was my mom.
It’s funny what your mind thinks up when you face the potential of loosing something, someone. I remembered my mother-in-law’s face, the breathing tubes, the IVs and number of bags hanging hear by. I remembered the beep of her ventilator, the numbers of her oxygen and heart rate. I remembered the smell of her room and the feel of her skin. The color of her nails, and the nail polish I’d painted on her toes for the last time. All these things flooded to the front of my mind with each step down the hall in this ICU ward.
The text from my dad had given a few details. He’d taken her into the ER the night before and she started loosing blood pressure. Nothing they were doing to her was increasing it. Her blood tests came back full of infection. They’d admitted her to the ICU, in need of immediate surgery but unable to stabilize her. Surgery would kill her. A doctor told my dad that he thought there was a 70/30 chance he could do something to help, it was a risk, but doing nothing was killing her.
The tests came back. My mother’s blood was full of a strep bacteria. She had Septic Shock.
The doctor who took a risk saved her life.
I walked into her room and her eyes met mine. She had an oxygen tube in her nose, but that was all. She had the pic-line in her neck, and some IV sites on her arm, but that was it. She only had six bags of fluids hanging near her, and there was only one machine tracking stats. She spoke to me.
My husband couldn’t wait to flee. I didn’t want to leave her side.
I was afraid that if I took my eyes off of her, left her room, that I might walk back in and see the ventilator covering her face, miss her eyes looking back and mine… not hear her voice again. I knew, just by looking at her that she was going to be fine. But I wanted to keep looking at her. To keep reassuring myself that she would be just fine.
How do you process this? How do you get your emotions to line up with your mind so that you can comprehend all that is taking place? All that didn’t happen…