I pressed the buzzer and waited for someone in the ward to have a moment to answer and let me in to see my wife. Sometimes it rings out and I don’t mind one bit. I just figure they’re all doing what they need to do. But this time a woman answered fairly quickly.
“Hello,” came the voice through the speaker. “I see you.”
The next words came out of my mouth before I had a chance to stop them. “Really?” I said, looking around for the camera. “How?”
There was a pause, followed uncertainly by, “….ummmm…”
“Oh my god,” I stammered as my brain caught up. “You said ICU, didn’t you? Of course you did. I’m sorry.” I really was genuinely embarrassed. “I’m just so tired.”
The medical staff at the hospital are wonderful. Wonderful and considerate and efficient and understanding and I wish I had better words to describe them. They deserve better words.
Tracey is doing good. She’s still on a ventilator and there’s still some pretty dynamic drugs being fed into her, but she’s stable and at this point that’s really all I care about. In fact, there are so many tubes going in and out of her it’s hard to find a spot you feel safe in touching. I tend to just hold her right hand and stroke her hair – although if I’m doing it wrong and it’s tickling her I suspect I’m in for a roasting when she comes to.
The word the nursing staff keep brandishing about regarding Tracey’s recovery is ‘remarkable’, and also ‘unlucky’, and I don’t think they’re exaggerating. But I’m told given the state she was in when she arrived in Brisbane, her recovery is going well.
Which is bazarre because I thought things were worse when she arrived in Nambour and I was actually more hopeful by the time the chopper transferred her to Brisbane. I mean I knew there’d been complications and I knew they don’t take patients for joyrides for the hell of it, but I thought the move was simply because the surgeons they needed were in Brisbane so they were taking her to them to save time and doctors’ travel claims. Seriously though, I knew a blood clot and lack of blood to most of the bowel was still really, really bad, I just didn’t realise it was worse than being bloodless.
Maybe that’s just as well I didn’t know the full extent of it because it was a hard enough keeping it together on the drive to get here.
So far it looks like the bowel joins are good, although obviously it’s too early to really tell. Just the fact they’re giving her a wake up call shows they’re a little confident though because I was told they’d likely keep her under until they’re sure they don’t need to go back in – but that’s all hopeful conjecture on my behalf. I was told there’s a chance of pneumonia but that they’re already giving her antibiotics for that.
More worryingly, I’ve also been told she’ll need to take things easy when she eventually comes home. Staying still and letting others do for her will perhaps be the biggest challenge she faces.
But that’s a little way off yet.
Occasionally she’ll open her eyes but she’s really more ‘lights are on but no one’s home’ at the moment. Usually, if her eyelids do flutter up, it’s because they’re moving her and she’s in pain.
But there was this one moment when I was holding her hand and talking to her when I think she might have floated to the surface.
“Everyone is sending you their love,” I told her when her eyelids separated briefly yesterday. Beneath them, her eyes looked like the fisheyes you’d normally find staring out at you through the glass cabinet in the seafood section at the supermarket – filmy, unseeing and distant. “I’ve got like 400 messages I’d read to you but I’m not allowed to have my phone on in here.”
Which, I simply have to put in here, were just the most amazingly supportive things anyone could have done. I’ve read them over and over, and so have other members of the family, and it’s just such a comfort to have that sort of support and empathy and well wishes in a time like this.
But as much as I know she’ll love reading them when she’s able, this wasn’t the moment I thought I saw Tracey surface.
In fact she looked ready to close her eyes again, so I blurted out the first thing I could think of. “It’s all good but I don’t know the internet banking passwords so I haven’t paid the mortgage.”
And I swear she rolled her eyes and turned away from me.
She might have been ‘sleeping’ for the last few days while I haven’t but this has sure reassured me she’s definitely in there somewhere.
A big thank you to all the medical staff involved, from all the surgeons to the nurses, at each of the Gympie, Nambour and Royal Brisbane hospitals, and to the paramedics and the chopper pilot and everyone else in that chain – this family is in your debt. You saved her life and I still can’t quite fathom how. Again, and again, thank you.