It’s a Sign!


I was on one side of Tracey’s bed holding her hand while Tracey’s dad, Ken, was on the other side doing the same thing.

I smiled over at him, although I’m sure he had no idea why I was so chuffed.

You see, this is where the experience of spending so much time in ICU comes into its own. Unbeknownst to him, I had manoeuvred things so I had the good hand, the one without all the tubes stuck into it.

We were talking, Ken and me, but for the life of me I can’t remember what it was about. Ken’s a man of few words. Even with a tube in her mouth I’d argue Tracey probably has more to say than her old man. But whatever it was it must have been something innocuous and boring because suddenly Tracey’s hands broke free of ours and were waving weakly for attention.

We looked down at her, waiting. Then Tracey did something totally unexpected.

With just a flick of her wrists she brushed us off.

“Are you saying you want us to leave?” I asked her.

She nodded. One might say, given how exhausted she is from three weeks of sedation, she nodded vigourously.

So Ken and I giggled our way out of ICU – actually, if I’m honest, I did all the giggling but Ken was grinning loudly – because this was the first clear instruction or communication we’d managed to illicit from Tracey since she’s woken up.

And it didn’t stop there. Tracey’s communication has been improving over the last two days as the fog of the sedation (and not having glasses on) has left her.

What Tracey has discovered since she’s ‘woken up’ is she’s lucky to be here and that can be scary. Even today she’s added fits to her bag of tricks, although a CT scan and an ECG have ruled out anything too sinister for now.

What I’ve discovered these past two days is I’m not good at one sided conversations.

People have advised me to talk about what’s been happening, but I’ve basically been splitting my time between the ICU waiting room and getting a bite to eat. Not exciting. Plus I don’t think telling a person who hasn’t eaten so much as a pea for a month, and is unlikely to eat for another two months at least, where I’ve been lunching is very sensitive. Also, I don’t really know what the kids have been up to because I’ve only seen them three times since the 1st of this month.

So I’ve spent some time with Tracey today patting down her head with a wet cloth, being grateful she’s alive and wishing the tube was out.

One thing we have agreed on is for me to bring the kids to see her tomorrow, even if the breathing tube is still in place. I can tell she’s very excited about seeing them because she nodded a lot when I suggested it.

Which got me wondering if maybe she’d like to have a couple of other friends pop in some time soon.

“Do you want me to ask a couple of your friends to come see you?” I asked her today.

She nodded.

I threw out a couple of names I thought she’d like to have talk at her.

She nodded at each of them.

My brother sat listening to this from the bad hand side of the bed. Because he’s a sensitive and wonderful guy he’d flown back early from Sydney to sit with me and visit our sick girl.

“How do you know she’s not brain damaged and just agreeing to everything you ask her?” he wanted to know.

Tracey rolled her eyes at him.

So I suggested something I’ve always wanted her to agree to in the bedroom but have never had much success with.

With two simple gestures Tracey pointed a finger at me and then towards the door. We were being dismissed.

And so again a family member and I got to giggle our way out of ICU.

Seriously, I’m not worried about Tracey’s brain not working properly, I’m more concerned about when her mouth finally does.

~ ~ ~

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.


  • Great news, boy are u going to be in trouble when Tracey starts talking, the kids are going to love the visit with their mum, still praying for you all, wonderful news.

  • I’m so happy for you all that Tracey is on the mend. You are so brave to have kept your sense of humour through it all.

  • Let me warn you, you are in for some big trouble.

    There! Don’t say we didn’t warn you, later!

    Prayers and hugs for Tracey!

    PS : Can you please record her giving you a lashing when she can? Cause I am sure there are hoing to countless instances of you getting lashed out at.

  • Such exciting news. And other than your glaringly obvious current circumstances, it seems that now Tracey is awake, things are back to normal. Tracey can’t even talk yet and she is already keeping you in line. I bet you are loving every minute. I bet the kids will be excited to see their mum again under better circumstances.

  • Yeh been looking all day & night for a update now thought i’d look one more time & here it is.You Bruce make me laugh with your thoughts seriously putting the hard word on Tracey with your bedroom thoughts thinking you can get away with it because Tracey can’t talk back well i love that she kicked you out twice that shows she is getting better in itself awesome Mrs Deveraux.The children will love seeing Mummy awake.

  • So relieved to read this. I’m a recent reader of your blog but now find myself checking regularly for updates. Glad to hear Tracey is still making progress, here’s to her recovery.

  • So, Tracey’s communicating without words – a famous saint once said that these were the best kind of sermons too.

  • haha that is awesome news, you must be giddy with excitement every time your eyes meet . Have the very best day tomorrow with your family together again X ( ps a girl never forgets what her bedroom rules are !)

  • Actions speak louder than words, and by the sound of it, Tracey’s sign language is pretty clear, so I wouldn’t be worried about brain fever either. 😉

  • Great news! I am so happy for you guys that Tracey is awake and communicating with everyone. I’ll enjoy reading your future post about the first tongue lashing you get from your wife, lol! So happy the kids will get to visit her again now that she’s awake. I’m sure Tracey is eager to see them again.

  • LoL that a girl Tracey! Happy to see the good news keep coming, I check every morning at bum crack am (430) before I head off to work too see if you’ve updated.

  • Great news!! I think of you guys every day and pray so hard that I think Gods sick of me and just wants me to shut up.
    So glad for you all xoxoxo

  • Ken Carmel and Tracy and your family my whole church is praying for all of you nothing short of a miracle for tracy will do.god bless you all and I am so glad she is have people around you who care.and a god who loves in his peace

  • Oh My Goodness, WOW, Trace it is so so so amazing to hear all this positive news, so glad you are getting better :). I had only met Tracey this year, but instantly felt a friendship coming along, and hearing all of this has been so hard and upsetting, i have been on the edge of my seat everyday waiting to read an update or hearing someone say her name. I knew you could get through this beautiful lady, you are a strong fighter of a woman. So proud of you 🙂 and Bruce you are amazing!!

  • Such great news!! I don’t even know your family but I’m so overjoyed for you all today!! Thanks so much for sharing this terrifying journey with us. xxxx

  • Amazing! Tracey is getting stronger by the day…glad to hear she is getting back to her rightful spot of keeping her amazing family back in line ?

  • I am so happy for you guys – I can’t imagine how wonderful it must feel to have communication with Tracey – looks like that trademark family sense of humour is going strong in everyone!
    Sending lots of best wishes as always 🙂

  • So glad that she’s communicating, and hoping for her to be extubated and able to communicate with you verbally soon. Praying that she keeps going forward at this speedy rate of knots!

  • Hi Bruce. You many have heard about me from my mum, Sharon, who runs the Gympie Cinema. I laughed at your post about the alphabet board the other day, because I recently spent over a month completely paralyzed and on a respirator. I had the hardest time just asking for the ffing thing. It was a genius piece of cardboard my mother had covered in useful phrases and letters grouped in practical ways.
    People kept getting frustrated with me, wondering why I was gesturing violently with my eyeballs (okay, not completely paralyzed) over to where it lay. Sometimes they would grab it in frustration, ordering me to spell it out, what I wanted. Other times they gave up.
    So glad I also didn’t need glasses…
    Your humor is what is going to make this experience a little bit okay.

  • great to hear! Tracey is going to love seeing the kids tomorrow ? I’m so happy for you that things are looking up xx

  • When my brother was very sick with Brain cancer he lost his ability to speak. It was so hard and very frustrating for him and he was also too week for an alphabet board. Anyway, he managed to communicate with us by me holding his strongest hand and slowly saying the alphabet, when I got to the letter he wanted he would squeeze my hand. It was slow but he was able to get basic messages out, may be worth a try ?. So glad things are on the up!

  • I know I don’t know you or Tracey but I have been following your blog for a little bit. It is so exciting hearing that she has woken up and that she is going to see the kids. Still sending healing hugs and prayers for Tracey for her recovery but so happy to hear that the situation has improved.

  • I have only recently noticed this blog. I send my best wishes. My husband had similar condition. Life threatening for a couple of weeks only though. He had a bag for 9 months but was successfully reversed. Along with a couple of other conditions which were also life threatening over a 15 year period.
    He is now 72 years old and has 5 grandchildren that he would never have met. Hopefully this will give you some additional hope. Judy

  • YAY!!!! I’m so glad Tracey is back to keeping you in line, Bruce. You know you’d go a little wild without her there to keep you in check! 😀

  • Hi wonderful Bruce! When Tracey is awake, I hope she is given plenty of pain relief, and anti-anxiety drugs. Doctors do focus on the body and getting that strong, but they forget about the mind. Lying in ICU with or without a tube down one’s throat is never going to be fun, but pain relief helps things feel better, and things like midazolam or lorazepam (“benzos”) can be given thru the IV or as an injection, and will make each day less unpleasant/scary for her. Seriously, the doctors forget about how the person is feeling, and how easy it is to make their waking hours much more pleasant. Always thinking of you both and compulsively checking for new blog posts. Lots of people around Australa are doing the same. I’m glad you have our emails, you both have a stack of new friends who would love to help you out at anytime. Good on you Superman Bruce.

  • So great to hear…You do realise though…when Tracey is up & about…she is gonna kick your butt!! Lmao
    Thinking of you guys. Take care XX

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