Speechless

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I bought this shirt because it highlighted Tracey’s favourite colour and I hoped it might cheer her up.

I keep talking to Tracey as she lies sprawled out (languishes?) on her ICU bed and she, poor poppet, still has a tube in her mouth so she’s unable to communicate outside of nodding, shaking her head, eye rolling and wiggling her cute little eyebrows.

I tell her what’s been happening these last two weeks – her trip from Gympie Hospital to Nambour Hospital and then to the Royal Brisbane – with special emphasis on her having missed our anniversary.

She can’t write because she’s so weak she’s barely been able to lift her arms. I tried putting an alphabet board in front of her and holding up her hand so she could point but she’d stare at it and then close her eyes. She wants to communicate but just can’t seem to find a way.

Tracey’s had a few visits from family today, keen to tell her what a marvel she is and how much support she’s got outside the confines of the ICU pod.

“She’s looking fantastic,” I said to everyone who would listen. She is. Her eyes are open and she’s alive. I don’t care about much else at the moment. “She’s looking really good.”

“I know you keep saying that,” said one of our cousins, “but I’m thinking if that’s looking good…” He trailed off.

“Trust me,” I said.

I understand it’s a matter of perspective. He didn’t see her when she was nearly bloodless, or when she had over 40 degree temperatures, a bloated belly, was packed in ice and still shaking like a washing machine on spin cycle on an uneven floor. After those episodes you really lower your standards a bit.

But seriously, who would have thought, even just a few days ago, we’d be at this point? I know the medical staff had their doubts.

And I appreciate how, despite their doubts, they have continued to treat Tracey in such a way as to give her the very best shot at making it. Seriously, write it down – Royal Brisbane. This is the place you want to be if you’re sick.

What’s even more amazing is no one will take any credit.  Or hugs.

“It’s just my job,” the doctors and nurses who are saving my wife are keen to point out if I approach them with open arms.

Or as Professor Jeffrey Lipman, Director of ICU, seems fond of saying every time I look like I’m in the mood to embrace someone, “It’s a team effort.”

He points out it’s how the ICU ward handles things at 2am in the morning which is the mark of its success. This man, whose world renouned high dose prescription and monitoring of Tracey’s antibiotic regime has allowed her to fight off death this week, shrugs off praise.

And it just makes me love him more.

Finally, because of the surgeons and nurses and excellent baristas in the cafe on the first floor, Tracey has turned a corner and is awake. She’s not out of the woods by a long shot, but at least she has a real shot at making it home.

But what Tracey clearly wants right now, more than anything, is to rip the breathing tube out of her throat.

I’ve been told it would be sore and infuriating for her. Even today she’s gone from being able to lift her arms a centimetre or two to being so close to reefing it out they’ve had to restrain her arms.

You’d be proud of me, long time readers, because despite seeing my wife in restraints on the bed I haven’t made a single tacky joke. Don’t get me wrong, I want to say them. But I figure the nurses would have heard them all.

And Tracey thinks she’s suffering in silence.

That aside, all day Tracey’s been trying to make me understand something but I’m really bad at guessing and she’s been frowning at me a lot more than usual. Frowning and rolling her eyes and making me feel useless.

And I’m having the time of my life!

“Is it your feet?” I’ll ask her. “You want to tell me your feet are sore. I should rub them! No? Is it your ankles? Your calfs? Your knees? Your thighs? Your pelvis? Your tummy? Your chest? Your shoulders? Your back? Your…stop frowning at me. I’m helping. Should I start again? Your feet?”

I keep naming parts of her body until she won’t even look me in the eye.

I just know when she’s able to talk she’s going to give me that exasperated lecture she does if we team up at Pictionary, and I’m going to feel so stupid I didn’t get it.

Because it’s all my fault. I can tell she’s in there and she’s thinking straight, and I’ve had enough experience with her to know she’s pissed at me.

If only I knew why.

“Do you think she recognised me?” asked my cousin when we were driving away from the hospital for bite to eat.

“Of course,” I said.

“It’s just she didn’t have her glasses on. Doesn’t she need them to see properly?”

So anyway, I think I’ve solved the problem with the alphabet board. Not that I think we’ll need it. Tomorrow the wonderful surgeons are going back in to see how things are travelling in her belly, and the plan is to remove her breathing tube.

With luck she’ll be able to chastise me for playing such a poor game of charades today. I’m really looking forward to receiving a mouthful.

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A closer look revealed the green wasn’t as PC as I’d normally be comfortable wearing. If anyone asks I’m telling them it’s medicinal marihuana.

~ ~ ~

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.

56 Comments

  • Yippppppeeee!!! Can’t wait to hear her first words once that darned breathing tube is removed!! Excited for the positive update!!

  • GREAT NEWS, whoo wonderful, must have been 1 of the greatest days of your life, that is so great l keep praying for you all.
    Isn’t god great & so powerful.

    It is going to be great if she is talking to you tomorrow if all goes to plan.

    Looking forward to hearing from you that she was able to talk to you.

    Best news ever.
    All the best.

  • Yay Tracey……you tell him what for when that tube’s out 🙂

    Good on you Bruce for the update. You knew we’d all be chomping at the bit to hear what’s happening.

    Can’t wait to hear what those first words will be.

    Still praying by the way……Hugs

  • Thanks for your update. My guess would be one of two things from this and your previous post, as your cousin said, doesn’t she need her glasses to see properly. I wonder if that could be it, or my second guess and one I was going to mention in my comment on your previous post but removed before posting because I thought it may have been poor taste at that point in time, was that I would have absolutely wet myself laughing if her first words were “have you sorted out the mortgage/internet banking”. I am glad Tracey is now awake, although she must be frustrated not being able my communicate and no doubt has not fully grasped the situation she is in. Your family is in my thoughts. Let’s hope you have some more good news tomorrow 🙂

  • Great news, Bruce and don’t you all deserve it. She’s in there all right and I hope it’s only onwards and upwards from here.

    I’m with you on the medical people: doctors, nurses, paramedics and those who support them. They are a special breed.

    Modern medicine and a lady with everything to live for is a powerful combination. Again, so great to hear this news. You are all in my thoughts.

  • 2nd Time again, Was thinking What’s the bet that Tracey was asking you how the kids are & where are the kids & how were they coping with things.

  • I’ve been following your blog posts and praying for you all in the hope that Tracey will improve and thank goodness that she is! With regards to the Alphabet board, try calling the letters out to her so she can blink when you hit the right letter. To quicken it up if the alpabet is in rows, you can start with Row beginning with letter A? If no blinks, Row beginning with letter J? and then if she blinks Yes, then start your letters there till she blinks again. Saw it on the film The Theory of Evertything when Stephen Hawkins was using one and thought it was quite clever! Hope that helps in the meantime until she’s a bit stronger and able to talk or write.
    Best wishes to you all xx

  • It’s kind of hilarious that you didn’t think of her glasses considering I’m sure she would wear them the whole time she’s out of bed at home, but there you go, that’s the issue, she’s in bed so your default would be no glasses! But anyway, it is awesome that she will probably be able to tell you off today! I can’t wait to hear all about it! I’m really grateful that God answers prayers!

  • She probably wants you to tell her the good, the bad and the ugly. Prognosis. I am battling leukemia and that’s what I wanted to know from the second I was diagnosed. I wanted someone to tell me if I was going to be here for long with my kids.

  • I’ve been too worried to reply, for fear that if i say something positive, she will go down hill again. But i think its time i say it. This is fantastic news! Ive been reading these updates to my family, & we have been hanging on to the hope that she will be ok. We are still holding on tight. Keep up the good fight Tracey.

  • What wonderful news to wake up to this morning. Bring it home now Tracey you can do it. Our candles are still burning for you.??

  • Woo hoo, doing the happy jig here in Canberra!!! What a strong fighter she is! I can’t wait to read what you say once she is talking. Praying for even better news today after the surgeons go back in and that the breathing tube goes. Cmon Tracey you can do it. Xxxxxx

  • Such great news Tracey is awake, even rolling her eyes at you! I certainly can’t wait for her first words post tube removal. I’m rolling my eyes at you too, charades is never good with men, they think body parts FIRST every time lol. Bruce you are really wonderful with your writing as you have been. Of course we all lie in wait to read how Tracey is going, but it will be a great diary of events for Tracey to read when she’s ready. God bless you both. You’re in my prayers

  • Oh Bruce that’s wonderful news… Let’s hope the eyebrows were ‘I need my glasses’ and not ‘why are you wearing a weed shirt to the hospital?’ 😉 Her first letters on the alphabet board very well may be ‘WTF?’ Xx

  • We too are all waiting for that moment when Tracey can tell you how pissed of she is but I think she will also tell you how much she loves you. You will get through this together as a family with ongoing support from extended family and friends.

  • BOOM! So awesome to hear Tracey is already frustrated with you; proof that you’ve been doing your husbandly best, Bruce! Still sending all of our biggest wishes and positive thoughts for a strong recovery.

  • Excellent news!! Two of my babies spent time in Royal Brisbane ICU and I couldn’t agree with you more Bruce! They do an awesome job!!!
    Well done on your restraint, btw!! Pardon the pun! Looking forward to hearing what Tracey has to say when the tube is removed!!
    Please pass on our love! ?

  • Fantastic news!
    Prayers are all over gympie and further a field. ….we prayed as a church for Tracey yesterday and l am guessing lots of others churches would of done the same.
    It would be lovely if we could line the street of prayer warriors on Tracey’s return her gympie.
    It would be a grand welcoming home!
    So happy for you all, praying for a great result so Tracey’s tube can be removed. ….but boy are you going to get it. Lol

  • Oh I am so happy for you that you are able to communicate. I wish you well for when the tube is removed and I hope Tracey is able to give you a big telling off haha. Sending lots of positivity and strength as always!!

  • Bruce you are awesome. Thank you for the update. Wonderful news. Prayers for Tracey’s continuing recovery and prayers for you and the family and for her Doctors and nurses. You are all doing a fantastic job. God is with you all. One day at a time now and we are all rooting for you all. You have so much love and support going your way from your home town and around the globe. Keep fighting Tracey. Our candles will burn for you till you are home, lighting your way. Look forward to hearing of your “telling off” from Tracey. hang in there some more.

  • Yeah I love ❤ this blog you are all in our thoughts and prayers, thank you for this Bruce . When you are home with the hole family Ken would love to catch up so I can claim and give you a big hug for including us in the blog family . Sue texts me when there is more news. Every member of our family check and let the others know so love to you all. Onwards and upwards xxoo

  • Yey!!! This is great news. I prayed for you all at Church of Christ on Sunday and pray everyday for beautiful Tracey to be healed. Jesus is awesome and He is guiding the doctors hands. Lots of love to you all and God bless.

  • I know it’s a bit old school but I have never followed a blog…until now! This is the first time I have been compelled to ask for more! I love your style, your seemingly adorable family, and the way you so obviously love them!

    I admit that I have spent far more time than I should have reading this at work but I am relieved that I have caught up to a positive moment in Tracey’s journey. I hope you are all back together as a full, healthy and happy family very soon!!!

  • I guess of course she would have been pleased to know the kids are alright and have visited and she may want them to again. Also re mortgage, saying that strangers like me have donated to the bank of Queensland account might ease her mind. I bet we could crowd-fund Tracey’s wage if we need to for a while! Ensuring she has good pain relief AND anxiety relief is important, even when she has no tube and can talk. Also, I remember my very elderly Aunt had a stroke and was nil by mouth, even tho she had a saline drip she was desperate for water so we used those special wipes hospitals have for wiping lips in that situation. I guess they have been doing that anyway. It’s a new set of questions for the staff now isn’t it? I hope they have a brochure called “what happens when someone is out of an enduced coma?”. Classic that the glasses may have been all that was stopping here with alphabet board! xxxx from us in NSW

  • Ah, an agro Tracey, I almost feel sorry for you now Bruce, make sure you remember those glasses aye, and have you told her about the awesome new wardrobe she can go shopping for yet?
    Still praying and sending lots of love and strength

  • So happy that Tracy is awake and getting better! Cant wait for her tube to be out so you can finally talk to your wife properly. Bet you’ve never been so happy to be nagged at haha.
    keep up with your positivity!
    god bless you all
    love from the uk ?x

  • Hi Bruce, I’m just so thrilled for you all that Tracey has turned a corner and is now awake. I wanted to let you know that there has been an incredible number of people who have been praying for Tracey’s healing. I have no doubt in my mind that God has performed a miracle for Tracey. It says in the Bible in Psalm 77:14,

    You are the God who performs miracles, you display your power among the people.

    I will continue to pray for you and your wonderful family.

    With love Dorothy Tarrant.

  • I am so pleased Tracey is pissed with you because it means she is getting better. Hope the road to recovery is smoother than the one she has been on.

  • Loving reading how Tracey is getting better. I was in tears reading the post before this one.
    Maybe she’s trying to signal you that she wants her glasses on? She’s probably (like me) blind as a bat without them, & if she’s used to wearing them & now can’t see past her nose clearly it must be really frustrating for her.
    I’m sure most of the medical staff would be supportive of your T-shirt 🙂
    Keeping up the prayers for all of you xxx

  • At last, some real LIGHT! Considering the earlier prognosis it’s just… brilliant. So happy for you, and hoping that there aren’t any more bumps on her road to recovery.
    You have been amazing, Bruce, through all of this! It’s been harrowing as you’ve shared your family’s story with us but you’ve still managed to keep your sense of humour which does so much for morale, and will continue to do so through Tracey’s recovery. You’re quick to praise the medics and rightly so, but you’ve been a champion yourself… sure, Tracey’s peed off at you at the mo but being peed off means she’s got that fighting spirit which will help her get back to full strength. Maybe that’s your job now – pissing her off! Or has that always been your job? 😀
    Keep cracking the jokes – I read a quote somewhere which I love –
    “It is impossible to laugh and feel afraid at the same time.”

  • Me again! I have to have an operation tomorrow and I’m not looking forward to it and am feeling scared. I have decided that during all my hospital time tomorrow I am going to think of you and Tracey, and then I will feel brave and realize my op is not a big deal. Bruce and Tracey, major inspirations! xx

  • I have a feeling she wants to tell you she loves you & ask about the kids. You being cheeky is going to get you a slap Sir. Lol So good to hear all of this & Tracey’s fighting spirit is just awesome. Thinking of you all.XX

  • I AM A RETIRED NURSE IN THE STATES.
    TRY HAVING HER “WRITE” ONE LETTER AT A TIME ON YOUR PALM, TO TRY TO COMMUNICATE. IT HAS WORKED MANY TIMES FOR ME.
    I JUST STARTED FOLLOWING YOUR BLOG A WEEK OR SO AGO. SHE IS VERY STRONG TO PULL THROUGH THIS SO FAR. PRAYING FOR THE BEST FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.
    TELL YOUR KIDS PEOPLE ARE PRAYING WORLD WIDE!!

  • Hello, I’m so so happy to read this. I hope that tube comes out and that she can roar and yell and laugh and cry all at once. Thank god for wonderful medial treatment and thank the universe for big loving families. xxxxxx

  • Hi Bruce, I am a recent reader of your blog and have been reading your updates over the last week with relief that the immediate crisis is over. Thank you for keeping your readers up to date. Can I make a gentle suggestion on behalf of Tracey, who can’t yet speak, you may wish to consider how much information about her health (particularly what the long-term implications are) you share with everyone. I just know that I may not like the whole world knowing about how much bowel I have left, how I am going to be fed, etc. Health privacy is very personal and clearly there are different levels of comfort about what to share, for everyone. Just my two cents’ worth and please don’t take it as a harsh criticism. Thanks BJ

  • I’ve just stumbled onto your blog and read your posts from the past few weeks. You poor buggers. I cannot even begin to imagine. Sending you cyber hugs, love, and hoping the news continues to be positive. XO

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