Posted on November 22, 2017
It has been 30 days since my sweet, gentle, courageous Joe has come to the Trauma ICU in Morristown Hospital after his car accident. He is still in the ICU, but with the support of the doctors, nurses, all the supporting staff, family and friends, he is improving bit by bit, day by day.
When he first arrived at the hospital, the doctors didn’t think he was going to make it. He coded and had to be resuscitated for 12 minutes. The nurses and staff who were there during that time will hold a place in my heart forever. I still see them around the hospital and we hug and they ask for updates on how Joe’s doing.
For the first week that he was in the ICU he was in a medically induced coma. Once they took him off the drugs that were keeping him unconscious, it took another eight days before he opened his eyes, allowing us all to breathe a sigh of relief that his brain was still working and he was with us. The waiting was, and continues to be, one of the hardest parts.
In the weeks since, we have continued to see slow improvements. During his best moments he looks at me, mouths words and we can communicate; I feel him here with me. There are still times where he gets confused or overwhelmed or just struggles to remain present, but I count my blessings for every day I get to see him return to me a little bit more.
I have to remind him occasionally, but for the most part he’s aware of where he is and what happened to him. For the sake of not overwhelming him, I haven’t told him the full extent of his injuries: 19 broken bones, punctured and bruised lung, so much blood loss that they had to transfuse 25 pints of blood to keep him going, as well as countless smaller injuries. Fevers and blood clots have added some complications, but as I look back to 30 days ago, I can see that we have come a long way, and that there is much to be hopeful and grateful for.
We’ve only recently begun talking to the doctors about anything beyond the immediate future. At this point he is still on life support and being aided in his breathing, although his lungs are improving. Getting him off the respirator is the current focus, along with continuing discussions of rehab. The doctors are, understandably, reluctant to give any kind of timeline, but they continue to remind us how far he’s come.
Spending so much time in the ICU among families at their most deeply vulnerable is a journey unto itself. We are all in the same boat, trying to stay afloat, holding onto signs of life and future and anything positive. Baby Steps is the mantra. Everyone learns the power of baby steps. They add up.
Being able to spend 24/7 at Joe’s side is a gift to both of us. Our community is holding me and my family up each and every day in ways I didn’t even know possible. The generosity of friends, family and acquaintances is a testament to the goodness of the human heart. All so helpful in supporting us in practical as well as emotional and spiritual ways.
I count my blessings every day. I feel a deep gratitude to all of you. At this time of Thanksgiving I wish you all the joy with loved ones. I know Joe has a very long road ahead. I am hopeful that next year at this time he will be able to join us around the Thanksgiving table. THANK YOU!