Could This Be A Turning Point?

The doctor brought coloured pens to the meeting with us. As an artist he makes a great doctor. Actually you know what? Make that a GREAT doctor.

I’m sitting on the balcony at my brother’s place listening to the rain and drinking a beer and feeling a sort of peace for the first time in two weeks.

Tracey has come through her latest op with flying colours, and while I know it seems like I’m celebrating victory at half time I also don’t care because there’s been so little to get excited about lately and I think the whole family needs this.

Last night Tracey underwent her third major surgery in two weeks. It feels like months. It feels like a lifetime ago we were waiting in the drive through at KFC when Tracey clutched her stomach and muttered in the understatement of her life, “Oh, that doesn’t feel right.”

But let’s look forward, not back. The fact is the doctor who went over her current condition with us this morning used the word stable – that wonderful, wonderful word I will never again associate with horses because it’s needed far more in hospital waiting rooms.

In the latest op they’ve taken a lot of Tracey’s bowel, and the 90cm left is highly inflamed and in poor shape. I just Googled how much bowel she started with and nearly lost my newfound confidence – women have an average of 7.1 meters. But 90cm is enough. The doctor told us even if she needs another op and slips below the critical 60cm mark, there is still the option of feeding Tracey by drip for the rest of her life. Seems like a small price to pay for being able to experience birthdays, Christmases, engagements, weddings, Fathers Days, and all the other really important milestones this family has coming.

“The situation isn’t hopeless,” the doctor told us today. We must have looked disbelieving because he paraphrased, “It is not without hope. We’re still only dealing with the one problem.”

What he meant was that some bowel had died in Tracey’s stomach from lack of blood, which is why they had to get in there and set things right. When that happens it can cause organs to fail. But it didn’t.

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?

I’ve received messages from people saying they sympathise because they had a loved one in ICU, but a lot of them are talking months of this. They might be able to imagine what it’s like for me but if two weeks feels like this I can’t imagine how frazzled they were by the end of their ordeals. I’m almost too scared to drive because it feels like I might have a breakdown waiting for a set of lights to change.

So to revisit the V8 Supercar analogy I touched on with my last post, they’ve managed to pull us out of a spin and grab control of this careening machine yet again. Only now we’re belting headlong towards the next tricky corner.

But I’m not as worried about that now because A. I suspect I might justifiably be a little drunk, and B. they finally appear to have a handle on things.

The trouble is we don’t know if we’re near the finish or merely half way. But with any luck the checkered flag is just out of our line of sight.

~ ~ ~

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 which 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.



  • Glad to hear there is a bit of positive news! Will keep thinking positive for your family. Dwelling in an ICU waiting room really is quite an experience you never forget…

  • Great news. Keep up your positive attitude Bruce, it’s helping your family more than you know and I’m sure Tracey can feel your faith in her and her doctors.

  • Thank you for taking the time to update us, my mother lost her bowel because of ploups in her bowel, whenever she had food she had to be close to a toilet as food would go straight through her bowel, no sooner than finishing a meal then straight to the toilet, she had the op in her 50’s lived to 79 with it, she didn’t need a colostomy bag, but at the time it was close to happening, l remember driving dads car the first time after l got my licence on my own with my little brother we went to the hospital to see her, there was tubes everywhere, it was scary for us, l was 18 7 him 16, we didn’t know if she was going to make it at the time, so if Tracey does end up with a bag or drip feed it can be done. I am still praying for your family, may god bless you all.

  • All sounds like moving forward good news . And a few beers for you hope your not feeling it this morning ….. But fantastic News Bruce … X

  • Hi Bruce and Tracey. Onwards and upwards. We too hope you are through the S bends and heading down the straight towards that checked flag. Hang in there. All our thoughts are with you and the family. Lyn and Geoff

  • I’ve been following your updates and praying and thinking of your all along the way. Here is to more stable and not having to go around another scary corner. And here’s to a short stint in the ICU and having your lovely wife home with you and your children.

    I think the doc did a pretty good job, love his artwork, even better love his surgery skills to make Tracey stable 🙂

  • Its great to hear something positive, stable is a good word to hear the doctors say. Sending you positive thoughts and prayers.

  • We are all following your blog posts with an avid attention usually reserved for an-about-to-boil kettle. So glad the news is good. Know that even though we’re not physically there – and quite frankly I doubt we’d all fit – that we are standing with you, Tracey, your kids and extended family. Hell, we ARE extended family. Sending love and healing thoughts.

  • We’re all hanging on your blog post hoping things will be back to normal! I hope Tracy will be back on her feet ASAP! But what about you, and the kids? It’s a long time off work. Is there any wY we can help out financially? What about sending you some woollies gift cards, to ease a little burden?

  • Thanks for the update Bruce! You’re doing great, let’s hope for more positive responses from your girl!!!!!!!

  • Bring on that chequered flag!!!!
    Then you can have beers at the after party!!!
    Thinking of all of you, pretty well constantly!! And still sending those rainbows and butterflies!

  • Bruce you are amazing. Glad you are with your brother. That’s the thing to do, have breaks from the ICU. I’ve had lots of time in hospital and never let my kids see me except for once when I was sitting up and smiling and only had fluid going in my IV instead of chemo. I remember being scared seeing my mum when she had an appendectomy in a lovely private hospital! So, letting the kids draw and send voice memos on yr phone might be good for them. Maybe in a few days you can go and spend the night with them again. Hope that social worker has the escort allowance sorted, it might be worth asking her how to apply for the carer’s pension, because that will be your role for a while. You are doing such a good job. Humor is good and important and appropriate. That doesn’t have to go from yr family. Now, you just need to fit in some exercise in the sunlight each day. A morning or lunchtime park walk? Very important. Love and constant thought from NSW.

  • Just had an idea for the future! All of us online friends writing here live all over Australia. Just imagine all the holidays you could have by staying with us, or doing a house swap if you prefer. Friends are the best! IRL of course, but online can sometimes feel even more honest and loving. I still reckon that lots of us would like to give you some money, cos flowers aren’t allowed in ICU. It’s just a tangible way to show we care. It could be for expenses over the next few months, gifts for the kids, saved for a future holiday or for a house cleaner for a while. All of us Internet people are so far away. It’s just one way to show we care. Imagine! Tracey might get really cranky with us if we did that! x

  • I totally believe in happy endings and I am willing Tracey on with every fibre of my being. Your family are in my thoughts. I love the way you write Bruce. I feel a strong sense of all the emotions you are going through. Stay strong! Go Tracey!

  • Really glad to hear that the operation went well, hoping the stay in ICU is short and she moves into a more normal hospital setting soon. Heh, “normal hospital setting”. *sigh*

    Definitely agree that you should look into the carers allowance/pension etc, ask the social worker to tell you everything they think you might be eligible for. Also agree with the taking a break from ICU if you can. Walk around the block, find a gym which will let you punch the crap out of something (believe me, boxercise can be really helpful), find a local park with ducks, take a break out of the hospital before you drive home. If you can’t see while driving because you’re crying too much then I strongly recommend pulling over if it’s safe to do so. You don’t need both of you to be in hospital, even if it would make the travelling time less. 😉

    At one point when my son was very unstable (he was very unstable for about 5 months) I left the hospital to go home, realised I didn’t want to go home because I’d need to start ringing family with further updates, and drove 20 minutes in the wrong direction so I could go and look at the bay and walk on the sand (and, um, scream at the seagulls – bloody chip thieves) for 30 minutes instead. You can end up in what feels like a perpetual loop of home/hospital/home/hospital/etc. Take care of yourself too.

  • so much for sharing Bruce. I have learned so much from your posts, and think it is very generous and brave of you to share and keep us up to date with the ordeal. Information such as how Careflight helped are great as we luckily have never needed to have anyone use them. Please make sure you are taking care of yourself as Tracey will need you when she awakens. Tracey if you ever read this, you and your off beat family have been in so many thoughts this last couple of weeks, thanks fro sharing with us. Now get better as Bruce is starting to get serious, and that has to be the most scary thing about this whole ordeal 😉

  • I got PTSD from being an ICU ‘escort’ (along with over propensity to use acronyms!). It is easy to understand how it happens because, shit, it is truly awful. You have my whole heart in there with you.

  • Reading every update with my heart in my mouth Bruce. And sending every bit of love and light in my body your way. And like you, grabbing on to every tiny bit of good news xx

  • You don’t know me Bruce but I’m
    a local and we have several mutual friends.
    I’m also just a regular mum who adores her family. You guys have been through so much and unfortunately there’s nothing comforting I can really say. Just sending my very, very best wishes and prayers for a rapid improvement in Tracey’s condition. I’m sure boring days at home with her and the kids will never go unappreciated again. xx

  • Dear Bruce,

    …so much I want to say, but most of all… the tremendous love you have for each other shines through your writing.

    My husband and I somehow got through nearly a year of ICU, and it was love and eyelashes all the way. Nothing else mattered.

    There are no rules for your situation, so you can keep on making them up as you go along. I think you’re doing a most tremendously terrific job.

    Sending love, and quiet breathing, and heartfelt good wishes for you all.

  • Life is only lived one day at a time.
    This too shall pass x
    Sending healing prayers for Tracy and strength to you Bruce.

  • Hey Bruce , my brother went through the same problem more than 15 years ago . He was in ICU for three weeks in an induced coma . Died a number of times through eight operations , and still survived with a minimal section of bowel remaining. He was told he would have to be fed intravenously for the rest of his life but has managed to get by on a large number of small meals every day and can still mow lawns , cut a load of firewood , play a round of golf , go fishing. In general , live a normal life , little bits at a time . Tracey is a fighter . So are you . Hang in the there mate . She will come home to you .cheers and my prayers , for what they are worth , are with you all .Gerry Marshall , Araluen , Gympie .

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