I wish I had better news.
It’s a sure sign things aren’t going well when all the doctors and nurses start using the word sorry, and when you call the ward to see how things are going you’re told, “Nothing’s changed. Unfortunately.”
Tracey will hate me for expressing this, but I have doubts.
Having seen the procession of people through ICU in the last two weeks I know how these things work. I know where the rooms are they pull you into to deliver bad news. I know death is more real here than at home watching X Factor.
But one of the last things Tracey said to me was I wasn’t to panic until the doctors told me to panic.
This week a scan showed Tracey had a mass of something in her stomach they suspected was puss or blood clots, so the call was made to go in and flush her out. That part of things went well, but they discovered the tiny bit of bowel she has left isn’t doing well. Not only are there perforations but it’s not looking the best. Plus, she doesn’t have enough bowel left for them to play with.
“We’ve patched her up as best we can,” the doctor told us today, “but we’ll need to go have another look in there on Monday to see how it’s going.”
2 days. 48 hours. 2880 minutes.
And each of them seems destined to drag by.
I want to stay positive. I want to believe Tracey will come home to us. I want to believe they can fix this.
And I wanted to save my tears for when Tracey finally opened her eyes and knew I was there for her and everything was going to be alright. But where for weeks I’ve been able to pack a dam wall of hope around such simple words as stable, suddenly I’m more scared than I’ve ever been in my life and the dam burst today.
Maybe it’s lack of sleep, but with all this bad news I’m starting to look for patterns. I worried yesterday I shouldn’t don a certain pair of shoes and a particular shirt because I had bad news last time I wore them in. Ridiculous stuff, but I see myself doing it. I’ve also realised I’m filling in my day with little bits of Tracey. I wear the aftershave she likes. I won’t wear the daggy t-shirt she doesn’t. I’m eating sushi a lot because Tracey loved going there as a treat when we were kidless, and I bought Vans shoes this week because when we were in Melbourne Tracey said she thought I should – I mean sure I liked the shoes, but that’s the story I’ll go with when she sees the credit card statement.
I’ve also now started to ask myself the most negative of questions, like should I bring the kids down to see their mum in ICU should the worst be a certainty? Is it better they get to say goodbye if they forever have the image of their unresponsive mum amongst machines and tubes stuck in their heads? Or do I risk them possibly being upset later in life they didn’t get to say goodbye to try keep their memories of their mum more palatable and true to who she was?
Unfortunately, these questions are coming from a very real and horribly surreal reality.
We knew it was not going to be good news today when we were asked to gather around Tracey’s bedside and they shut the curtains behind us. The lovely nurse, who’d been chatty that morning and mentioning she and some of the other staff had been reading my blog posts, looked like she was about to burst into tears. She still met our eyes, but there was genuine empathy there and I could tell she was wishing as much as us that this conversation wasn’t about to happen. For that, she’s now my favourite nurse – quite a compliment given the standard of men and women who’ve been so vigilant in caring for Tracey.
And from that moment on I have bawled several times today because Tracey is all I can think about and she’s not well and there’s nothing I can do about it.
I almost hate myself for crying because it feels like I doubt she’ll be okay. Which of course I do, for really the first time since this nightmare began, because they’ve always had a plan. Always had a plan and a back up plan. Always rather wonderfully used sentences which don’t have the word sorry in them.
While I don’t doubt the doctors and nurses in the ICU, and Royal Brisbane in general, are giving her the very best chance, in my current frame of mind it doesn’t seem possible they can pull her through. But if anyone can, they can. I believe in them. I have to believe in them.
Tracey has overcome so many hurdles already. We should have lost her that first night. During an operation her bowel was touched and apparently fell apart – she shouldn’t have made it to theatre. It’s only her relative youth and the fact her other organs are doing well, including her pneumonia free lungs, that she’s come so far.
They’re still looking into the idea of her being fed by total parenteral nutrition, but there didn’t seem to be the rush to take up this option which I thought there would be. I assume there’s some roadblock I’m unaware of. Plus, they said there can be complications associated with it.
“We don’t care,” I told them at this point. “We’ll take it. We’ll take it, and her.”
The alternative is unbearable.
Who cares if she eats from a hanging bag if it means we still have her wit and love in our lives? I guarantee she won’t.
My brother and his wife even know someone who does this, and they said they didn’t realise for ages. Apparently they can still even eat a bit if they choose, although obviously there are restrictions and some things can make them feel very poorly.
“You’d probably have to buy a Thermomix,” said Tracey’s sister.
Which is genuinely unfortunate because I’ve been deliberately avoiding joining a cult. I’ll still take it though.
If the last 2 weeks have felt like a lifetime, I suspect the next 2 days will dwarf it. Especially now I have this new teary pastime to fill in the void left by any pockets of absent hope.
I wish, more than anyone, I had better news. Maybe Monday will finally bring it.
In the meantime I have to keep reminding myself Tracey would not accept this. She’d be at me to stop being so negative. She’d tell me again we don’t panic until the doctors tell us to panic.
I’m just not sure now if they actually use that exact word.
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Thank you again to everyone involved in keeping our Tracey alive and in with a chance. If you would like to do something wonderful please consider donating to one of the heroes of this ordeal – Care Flight who got Tracey where she needed to be quickly and safely. I gave them $100 as a thank you. This is a service we need to ensure continues because it saves live, keeping mummies around for their kids and hapless husbands.