Now We Hope And Wait And Trust

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They call each of the ICU wards pods. I do too now. “Thank you Pod,” I’ll say into the intercom when I’m buzzed through. Makes me feel like I’m on Snog, Marry, Avoid.

“Can we watch The X Factor?” Miss11 asked me last night.

I’d gone home for a flying overnight visit. This whole experience has been tough for our little people. They’re expected to carry on with things like school despite the upheaval of their worlds. But a week is too long without a huggle from a parent. Tracey does the best ones, but as she was busy stressing us out they settled for mine. They needed me to be there for a few hours to put their minds at ease, and the truth is I probably needed it more.

I gathered all my munchkins and we went home for a meal at the table and a night of sitting on the couch watching tv, talking and playing board games.

Then the six of us eventually settled into our queen size bed. Yep, six of us. No, it didn’t work well.

“Why are you holding my foot?” I demanded of Miss11 at one point.

“Ewww!” she squealed. She thought it was Miss3’s hand.

After multiple kicks to the head and groin I gave up at 1.30am and snuck into one of the single beds. I figured I could maybe manage six hours sleep. Nope. Miss3 woke everyone up at 5am because she couldn’t find her dummy. An hour later she was the only one who’d managed to go back to sleep.

But as exhausted as I was today, I felt recharged. I felt a little more normal. I felt I could come back down here to the Royal Brisbane hospital and handle the stress of things a little better.

I was wrong.

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My spot was that sliver of sheet on the left.

Arriving just before lunch, I went straight in to see how Tracey was doing. Instantly all my newfound calm was put to the test. And failed.

Most of what I was witnessing was the same as when I left. The racing heartbeat. The worryingly high temps. The distended belly. The bags and tubes full of muck and all those wonderful drugs. Even the shivering wasn’t new, although I have to say since it started it’s quickly become the thing I hate most. In a special little part of the world on the fourth floor of this hospital, where so much is controlled and managed and monitored, it seems totally out of step and therefore scary as all heck.

Somehow she looked more frail than ever and like a punch to the kidney it very nearly dropped me.

Worst of all, when I enquired of the staff how Tracey was doing they didn’t use the wonderful word ‘stable’. Instead, when I asked, the nurse said, “…well, she’s the same.”

I’m getting pretty good at hospital speak and I know same isn’t the same as stable. When you pack so much hope around a single word you notice its absence.

Suddenly all the calm I’d been faking for the last twelve days ran aground and I was marooned on an island of doubt in an ocean of fear. That’s poetic speak for I was scared shitless and started to cuss a lot in the men’s loos where I went to throw up.

The one moment of relief I had at this point was a chat with a social worker which my brother arranged with one of the staff he knows.

“What can I do for you?” the lovely, chatty lady wanted to know.

I had no idea. So that’s what I told her.

“I have no idea,” I said. I didn’t really know what her job was. “What have you got?”

Now I don’t know what I was expecting, but it sure wasn’t the first thing she mentioned.

“I think you could probably apply for an escort allowance,” she suggested cheerily.

“I really don’t think that’s necessary,” I told her. After seven kids you learn to hold off for months at a time and not complain. “I mean it’s only been about two weeks.”

Turns out it wasn’t what I, and I’m sure I’m not alone, thought. It seems I’m the escort for Tracey while she’s down here. Of course, now I’m wondering if I can start billing my wife for my services when she’s better.

And then, just when I’d had a bit of a chuckle, the news seemed to get even grimmer. In a fortnight of riding this roller coaster it seems today we’d come to the corkscrew section.

The surgeon told me today’s scan of her belly came back showing signs of some ‘unhealthy’ bowel. That’s hospital code for dead or dying. The lack of blood flow was taking its toll and now they were about to do the thing they told me, only a day ago, they wanted to avoid if possible because the risks involved the possibility of doing more damage than good: They’re going back into her belly to see what’s actually going on and to probably take even more of her inner workings.

And the news got even worse. The section of bowel in question is in a difficult spot which won’t allow for the option of a colostomy bag.

My eyes welled up and I could sense a moan begin to work it’s way up from the pit of my stomach as I felt this wave of panic begin to swell…

…and then it stopped and I was calm again. In fact, all the stress of the day seemed to evapourate.

This thing which has been building in me today when I stood beside my sweetheart’s bed and watched her shiver her way past 40 degrees is doubt. For days the doctors and nursing staff have been trying to work out why Tracey’s temperatures have been so high and coming up with theories but nothing concrete. They’ve been running tests and scans but to my eyes for the first time since she was rushed to theatre nearly two weeks ago my gorgeous wife has been languishing in uncertainty. She’s always been at serious risk of losing her life, but this is different. While they’re working on fixing something, there’s hope. I’ve been a stress ball because it’s felt like there’s been no momentum.

And suddenly I understand why I’ve been able to hold it in, and why I very nearly lost it today. When Tracey was being medevaced all the way from Gympie hospital to Nambour hospital and finally here to the Royal Brisbane her life was in the balance and I was shit scared for her, but I maintained a calm because I knew she was where she needed to be and had the right people trying to save her life. She had the best chance we could give her.

Now suddenly tonight there’s direction again. Today felt like I was in a V8 Supercar and had lost it on a tree lined corner. Now someone competent has taken the wheel and is wrestling this beast back under control. There’s no guarantee it’s not going to end in tears but if anyone can save this wreck they can. The doctors believe they’ve found what’s been hindering Tracey’s improvement and we’re finally moving forward instead of sidewards. Yes, there’s risks – huge risks – and yes of course they worry the hell out of me, but not as much as waiting for her to get worse.

So here I am, sitting in the ICU waiting room again, hoping and fretting, but mostly holding it together. My brother is here with me, and Tracey’s sister, Belinda, and their parents, Ken and Carmel. We’re all worried but I can see the same calm in them I feel and I think it’s for the same reason.

We’ve all been in to see Tracey one last time before her surgery. Her eyelashes looked lovely and her cheeks were rosie red (from a reaction to the pads they’ve had on her face for the last ten days keeping the ventilator in place, but we’ll take that). She looked peaceful and beautiful. Even in her sedated slumber she looked ready to take on the world.

Come on, Tracey. I know you’ve got this. You’re young and in good health and have so much living still to do.

And besides all that, you know better than most the kids need someone responsible to raise them.

“Shit, it’s 9 o’clock already! I’m sorry guys, I can’t let you stay up any later,” I told the kids last night. The X Factor didn’t even look close to running the final credits. I turned off the telly and herded them towards the bedroom. “I can’t believe Grandma lets you stay up so late to watch this.”

“Oh, she doesn’t,” Master10 grinned at me as he jumped into our bed with his siblings. “She records it.”

You probably would have known that.

See you soon, Tracey.  Stay strong x

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Now we wait and hope and trust.

LATEST NEWS: She’s asleep and looks wonderful. No bag. It’s 4am and the surgeon won’t be avail to talk until after 9am – we’re taking that as a good sign and are going for a sleep. Every time she clears another hurdle I’m cheering her on. Thank you to everyone who has given us support. I read the comments in the threads over and over, and I can’t wait for Tracey to see them. Mark my words, she’s going to be so embarrassed everyone’s made any sort of fuss. It’ll be great! I’ll update everyone here once I know anything more.

LATEST NEWS: Thanks for your patience, everyone. We’re on ICU time here. We’ve had a meeting with one of the fabulous doctors here at the Royal Brisbane and he’s gone over how things stand. She’s stable – that wonderful, wonderful word. They’ve taken a lot of her bowel, and what’s left is highly inflamed and in poor shape, but he explained if things were as bad as we’re obviously imagining he’d tell us. “The situation isn’t hopeless,” he told us. “It is not without hope.” Some bowel had died and that can cause organs to fail, but it didn’t. “We’re still only dealing with the one problem,” he told us. Which is good. We’re back to square one though. She’s staring down the barrel of a minimum of two weeks in intensive care so it looks like I’ll be calling the ICU waiting room home for a bit longer – I wonder if they’ll let me hang some pictures? So they’ve managed to pull us out of a spin and grab control of this machine again, and now we’re belting headlong towards the next corner.

If you would like to do something wonderful please consider donating to one of the heroes of this ordeal – the Care Flight which got Tracey where she needed to be quickly and safely. I gave them $100 this week as a thank you. This is a service we need to ensure continues because it saves lives, like my wife’s, and keeps mummies around for their kids and hapless husbands.

85 Comments

  • Sending lots of good vibes and hope that they can get her awake and back to you as soon as possible. but she is in amazing hands there

  • Thank you. Just.. thank you. You are going through the MOST emotional time of your life and you are sharing it with us. We do appreciate it because, although most of us have never met you or Tracey or the kids, we feel as if we’re an extended part of your family. You’ve let us in. So.. thank you. All extremities are crossed.. and the most positive thoughts being sent your way xx

  • I wish you would take some money Bruce just to help you with petrol, car parking fees, food for yourself, & you may not have any income coming in for you, l know u worked at the boq in gympie l may send some money there to you, all the best Bruce still praying for you all.

  • Thinking of you all at this time. Although we live in the UK and have never met you it feels like we know you thanks to your amazing blog. Everything crossed for your lovely wife and you all. Xx

  • I’m just lost for words at your strength, your honesty and your beautiful outpouring of love for Tracey. Was sitting here reading in floods of tears and just about did a cartwheel when I saw your latest update 🙂 You guys are very much in my thoughts and like everyone else here I have everything crossed for you. Much love to you all xxx

  • Youre doing great Bruce. Hang in there. You have got a lot of people hoping and praying and hoping some more that she will be ok x.

  • Each time I read ur story Bruce I shed tears knowing of how so very hard it must be for u n the kids… Ur strength is beyond words … Many emotions…. Stay strong sending you all positive blessings .. Hope after this last op they can start giving u better news.

  • It is totally amazing the strength we just find we have in reserve when our loved ones face a battle and all we can do is look on and love and pray. It is the anticlimax is so difficult. Tracey deserves to get well , she was so kind to us when we faced loss of our loved one . Stay strong .

  • You are doing an amazing job Bruce, juggling everything and doing the best you possibly can. Hang in there, Tracey will be so proud of you.
    Thinking of you and sending our very best wishes. Thanks for the update.
    Georgie

  • Good on you for mostly holding it together. Prayers, luck, vibes in your direction. Wishing Tracey the very best in medical treatment, and all the good painkillers as well.

  • Stay Strong Bruce. My thoughts are with you and your family. And thank you for sharing your journey, as many have said, although we have never met it feels like we know you so well.

    • Thank you for updating us all. Multiple times a day I check back to make sure I haven’t missed any updates.
      I just can’t believe this is is all happening and taking so long. I’m shattered you are all going through this still. Please Tracey, please get well soon.
      Stay strong Bruce and the family.
      Much love to you all xxxx

  • Thinking of you guys and wishing Tracey a quick and full recovery. As you say, she will be fine because someone has to keep you in line! Love the Deens.

  • I drove past you in the morning, Bruce, outside Hungry Jacks .. I assumed you must have had a sleepover at home and were heading back to Bris (probably with a strong takeaway coffee). Good luck, hopefully it’s all uphill from here!

  • Just sending love to you all. Thanks to you, we feel like part of your extended family and are hoping and praying for the best of outcomes xxxx

  • Like many other here I have been thinking of your family and checking back often for updates. I am hoping that Tracey is well on the road to recovery very very soon.

  • I’m one of 6 children and our mother suddenly passed away from a brain aneurysm 6 years ago. The youngest was 9 at the time. I remember my dad – he was the strongest, most amazing person at the time. Having to sit us down in the ICU waiting room and tell us mummy wasn’t coming home. I remember the tubes going into her…there were so many! She looked like an angel despite it all. But it was my father’s strength that got us through. I cry every time I read one of your updates on Tracey because it brings back so many memories of mum. But I think I cry mostly because your amazing Bruce, just like my daddy was. You got this, its evident. Love and hope your way xoxoxo

  • Love and prays to you and yours. On our minds all the time love and thanks Bruce for your updates .xxoo ? hang in there buddy.

  • Here’s hoping things are on the up now and she will be soon mended and well. How scary for you and the children and her family too. Soon be 9am .

  • thank you for the update as one person said we don’t know you but we feel like part of your family I cry every time I read your blog prayers are with you

  • Hi Bruce,
    I’ve been a silent stalker of your wonderful writings for a few years and if Tracey wasn’t sick I probably still would be but I felt compelled to touch base and send you my good wishes. All will be well, I just know it. Hang in there you are doing great.
    Look forward to hearing as Tracey recovers and future writings from you when you refer to this chapter in past tense.
    Stay strong
    Cheers, Kim

  • It’s so good to hear about your kids. Don’t doubt how much of an amazing father you are or are being. You took the time to fly back to see your precious babies to show them they aren’t forgotten and you did ‘normal’ stuff too. As a role model you’ve showed them how to be a loyal companion, a family member, resilient and that vulnerability and uncertainty are part of life.

  • You and the family have been through hell and back. I really really hope that things get better very very soon. As always, my thoughts and well wishes are with you all. You’re all very brave – the kids too x

  • Hi Bruce i have been following your post Just want to send my prayers for Tracey and your family Your online community are cheering you guys on Blessings to you all

  • It might come as a surprise to you Bruce, but you are actually behaving quite normally. Not normal as in when everything is OK, but normal as in when your world has been turned upside down and shooken real good. When I was in a similar situation to yours, I behaved in a very similar manner and thunk very similar thinks. You are gong through your own brand of hell right now and you are facing it without your main comforter by your side. Tracey is your closes support, the one you rely on, your mainstay and much as you and the4 kids love each other, they cannot replace her in your life any more than you can replace her in theirs. S go ahead and deal with it all in the best way you can, simply by moving the back foot up to the front, taking the day one step at a time and knowing that you have the support and prayers of a lot of people. God be with you mate, even if you aren’t with Him yet. Keep on pretending to be brave even when you are scared witless, spitless and totally terrified.

  • Blessings to everyone in your family. As a mum to six, I can only imagine the horror and difficulty of your situation. I wish you all, all the best and hope that your community is banding about you all to help out with those little ones. XX

  • Sending healing vibes to Tracey and everybody in your family. Your strength and love will get you through. C’Mon Tracey, put on your superwoman cape and get better soon.

  • I have followed your blog for a while but am not normally a ‘commenter’… You are doing a great job Bruce. Your love & strength for Tracey will be helping even when it doesn’t feel like it, so stay strong! I truly hope you get good news soon x

  • Thinking of you and your family Bruce. Lets hope this surgery is the ‘ticket’ for the start of Traceys road back to good health. My heart is always in my mouth reading these posts. Hang on in there. Thanks for updating us all in readersville.

  • My thoughts are with both of you today. What a beautiful family unit you have with so much love and support. You will be up and ready to take on your super mum role soon enough xxxxx Lots of love x

  • You do not know me Bruce, but I’m related to Carmel. Just know that I’m reading all your updates and think about you and your family all the time. Best wishes and keep your chin up, also give my love to Carmel. I know what you are going through. Love to you all. Pat Harrison.

  • Sending love and hugs and light and prayers and good vibes your way! Thanks so much for keeping us all in the loop. I’ve come to love your family as friends and am anxiously awaiting every update. xx

  • Praying that the operation has gone better than well and that you will all be out of this terribly stressing time and back to “normality” real soon. I can see you and Tracey enjoying a beautiful relaxing time at some gorgeous resort rehashing all that has happened in the past and relishing in the love you have for each other. YOU ARE AMAZING BRUCE! xxxxxx

  • Thinking of you all at this time. Hope Tracey pulls through all this and your family is all back together real soon. Much Love xxoo

  • Lots of love for you and your family. Stay strong. Tracey will get better soon, no doubt. Sending her lots of thoughts and prayers for speedy recovery.

  • Thinking of you and sending all our love. You guys are the first thing I think of when I wake up, always hoping for good news for your amazing family. So much love to you all. xxx

  • Your precious wife is my thoughts right now and I am hoping the universe looks after her as well as she has cared for her precious babies. Stay strong, love and light to you. Emily – a stranger who has been overwhelmed and touched by Tracey’s battle.

  • As much as we’re all waiting for good news following the surgery, we know that you need to be with Tracey and let close family know what’s going on before you let us know, and that’s OK.
    But that still won’t stop us checking up on your blog and Facebook posts like stalkers (we’re all feeling that we’ve got too much hope invested in this surgery and yours and Tracey’s wellbeing than to let your posts go unnoticed or unacknowledged).
    Hang in there, Bruce. As they say, where there’s life there’s hope <3

  • My thoughts are with you and you family, Bruce, wishing Tracey all the best, she sounds like a fighter, and what wonderful support she has around her.

  • Mrs Woog mentioned you in one of her posts and I found my way to your blog. You are a wonderful husband – hang in there … such an awful time. xxx

  • I laughed much too hard at your response to POD and then felt terrible for laughing at that as I read through the rest of your blog.
    I will continue to hope things get better and better…ASAP!

  • Still thinking of you, Tracey and family. I hope you are looking after yourself as Tracey is going to need you especially on the road to full recovery. You are doing a wonderful job. Tell her it is time she started to do things the easy way. No more of these complications. Please continue to keep us all informed as you get the time. I looked a few times last night to see if there had been any updates and I’m sure I’m not the only one looking. Here’s hoping the next update is good or at least better news.

  • Take care of yourself too. You will be no good to anyone if u don’t. Keeping you all in my thoughts just wish there was more I could do

  • It is 1:47 am here and I couldn’t sleep so checked Facebook and found your post so now I am sitting here crying a bit about all the pain and stress your family is going through – I hope your wife pulls through with flying colors and is home with you and the kids soon – good luck- sending prayers and good thoughts your way!

  • Sending all the healing thoughts I’ve got. May the strength of our collective will bring the awesome news we’ve been waiting to here – I know, you most of all. Hugs! Hugs and more hugs!

  • I have enjoyed reading about your family on FB and on your website, I have laughed a lot, sympathized with Tracey over some very familiar occurrences, thought how lucky your children were to have 2 such committed parents, and now I have cried with you and for you. I hope and pray that things start going your way and that she is home, safe and well as soon as possible. Love to you all!!

  • Hi Bruce
    All the positive energy of the universe to you and Tracey. I’m glad you’ve got your families there and I’m sure you’ll pull through. For Petes sake don’t be too proud to accept $ if it’s offered you have a big family to keep going!!! Thinking of you Simone xx

  • Dear Bruce,
    Thinking of you, Tracy & the kids a lot, sending you healing thoughts and much love & light.
    I hope Tracy is recovering from her surgery, and will be awake soon. Wishing you all the best. XX

  • Bruce, Tracey and family our love and thoughts go out to you all to help you through this time. May you find strength in all the people that love and care for you. Bruce over the years of working with you one of your sayings stuck “you dont need money when all you need is your family” xx

  • Thinking of you and your family mate, all the well wishes I’ve got – even the ones I’ve been saving – are heading your way. She’s in the very best hands, and I don’t mean the doctors.

    Keep at it, stay strong and look after yourself.

  • Four years ago my wife experienced kidney failure due to Lupus complications and I know all too well the worry of what you’re going through. What really brought it home was your picture of the buzzer for the ICU unit. I loathed that buzzer, it always seemed to take minutes before someone answered so I could get in and see my wife. You’re a very brave man and I’m sending you all my best wishes, stay string for your wife and kids and remember it’s okay to feel overwhelmed at times.

  • My husband spent a long time in ICU and we hung up pictures with Blu Tak everywhere. Very similar situation as you. You’ve been on my mind all day. Thank you for taking the time to update.

  • Sending the biggest, get strong recovery wishes to Tracey. Keep talking, Dad jokes and all, I’m sure hearing you, being you is what she needs to hear…

  • Thinking of you and your family Bruce!!! Ben and I are following your blogs and Ann is keeping us posted with any changes. Cant imagine how you must be feeling! Keep up the positive vibes…. we are all praying for her to pull threw! Look forward to hearing more good news xx

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