Was having a lovely sleep this a.m. when the phone rang. 4:00 a.m.
"Keith was having some trouble breathing, so they have brought him to the Humber Church Memorial Hospital". Me in my sleepy haze asks "Am I supposed to go there?" I think the lady on the other end had second thoughts about my suitability as a partner at that point, but the answer was in the affirmative.
The QEW heading east toward Toronto is pure joy at 4:15 a.m. Best part of my day - well not quite, but we will get to that. I flew into the city, found the hospital I had never heard of, and was eventually brought in to see Keith who had been put on a CPAP machine to try to enable him to breathe better, and calm down. He was quite agitated and confused about where he was at, and unfortunately his C02 levels were elevated (oxygen going in, but not enough C02 going out) and needed to be lowered. The solution? - A ventilator to regulate his breathing in and out, and to allow his body to relax and begin to stabilize. The vent went in at approximately 5:45 a.m.
Ventilators are pretty intimidating machines. They breathe for you - end of story. You trust in the science of them, you trust in the doctors and nurses who are putting it in (who thankfully shoo ME away while doing so) and managing it while it is in. They make more beeps and blips and whiz bang noises than a 13 year olds cellphone on a Saturday night. People who have them in, don't like to have them in. These people must be sedated, in order to allow the machine to do its job, and the person to stabilize. Various bodily functions are dealt with (imagination folks) and said patient must be kept awake enough in order to allow secretions to be sucked out. It's a messy, noisy, and delicate business.
Keith rested most of the day. I sat. I didn't talk to him (because they didn't want him agitated as he would be confused about the vent) I didn't hold his hand too much (same reason) I cried some. I laughed once (great Tweet from a friend) and I listened to the other stories in the room. I prayed lots, and felt the prayers and intentions of others all day long. I truly did.
The goal was to get Keith stabilized, and then off to Toronto General Hospital, where the transplant team who is familiar with him and his case, could be on hand to see him and take care of him, and ultimately remove the ventilator. At about 3:00 the nurses at Humber advised me that TGH could take Keith at 7:30, and I could go home, get a little rest, and then meet him back downtown. Good plan.
Apparently sometime between 3:30 and 7:30 while I was trying to get some rest at home - there was white stuff falling. Lots of white stuff. It was quite beautiful to see out in Oakville. I'd say we had two or three inches of lovely fluffy stuff. After confirming that Keith was heading to TGH, I left for Toronto. Not nearly as lovely a drive as the morning fly. Slow, steady, and the whole time I was thinking about Keith, in an ambulance, with all of his various wires, tubes, and gadgets hooked up, moving across the city in this snow. I willed the driver of that ambulance to drive super extra carefully. I willed every driver on the road to do the same.
Arrived TGH around 9:15 and went up to see Keith. He had just come in about 10 minutes before me, and they were getting him settled in. I was fully suited up in a gown, gloves and mask, and they brought me in half an hour later to a lovely and extremely quiet, almost zenlike room where he was still on the ventilator, but was more aware of what was going on. His level of O2 had been reduced significantly, and his saturation levels (just how much oxygen was sticking around and travelling through his body) were a perfect 100%
He couldn't smile at me, but he knew I was there. And I realized that he wanted to say something to me. He moved his hand to try to get it out from under the sheets so I helped him - thinking the sweetie wanted to hold my hand. How touching! He reached for my gown and started writing letters on me! It was like something out of a movie, so I told the nurse, and she gave me a clipboard, and paper and pencil. He wrote me a series of notes / questions.
Keith wanted to know where he was, why, what had happened, and wanted to convey to me that he was not at all happy about the tube in his throat. Fair. I helped him with 3 out of 4. The nurse came in and explained to him about how the tube was likely going to stay in for the night, but that he was definitely on lower levels of oxygen so that it would make REMOVING the tube something to happen more readily. While she acknowledged that it was uncomfortable, she advised against increasing sedatives to numb the pain, since it might end up lengthening the time he needed to have it in.
At this point, I decided that I should try to get some sleep, so I said goodnight to Keith, and removed my gown and gloves and mask and left the room. He started tapping on the side of the bed. Like crazy. I told him that I had removed all my stuff, and would see him in a bit, and he kept tapping. I told the nurse, and she said she would go in and see what he wanted to write and grabbed the clipboard. He motioned to her to turn around, and I heard her say, "you want me to turn around?" Here's where I knew that Keith was feeling just fine. He wanted to slap my bum. There. I said it. It's what he does - and constantly asks me "what would you do if you didn't have me? Who would do this?" I love him.
I have ensconced myself in a lovely couch in the lounge on the 10th floor. They will call me if they need me. I can rest knowing that Keith is being taken care of by the best doctors and nurses for him.
Over and out. Will post update very soon. Thank you again, for all of your support. Thank you to Steve who brought me chargers for my phone. Thank you for so many of you who I don't even know, who keep Keith in your prayers and thoughts. It all means so much to him and I. Without you, this would be an extremely lonely and frustrating road. Thank you to the many of you I do know, who continue to support me, and us, with practical and spiritual help. There aren't words to say how incredibly appreciative we are.