The ICU’s revolving door of drama ushers in the broken and out the mended. Just as we had hoped, Ms. Jones recovered well enough a couple of days ago to be released from the ICU.  Breathing had been normal and healthy for over a day, pain was managed, and vitals were all good. We were “that family”. The family that got to leave. The family I envied only a week ago as my mom lay unconscious.

My apologies for not keeping you all closer in touch with the events, but for some reason we got busier with my mom out of ICU than with her in it.  Ms. Jones is full of energy AND conversation. She’s in a lovely room on the 6th floor where flowers ARE permitted (apologies for the SHAMELESS hint—the address is: Harborview Medical Center 325 9th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104, (206) 731-300 Lorrie Jones Room 612).  I have to say we miss the ICU a bit. First off, the ICU staff were amazing.  Acute care is a little less intense on many levels.  It’s sort of common and if there is ANYTHING we don’t feel like after the last week, it’s COMMON.  But, it IS one step closer to the exit, which is not a bad thing.
I assure you all that we feel very fortunate.  It’s easy now to complain about the inconveniences of being bedridden.  It’s hard to adjust your position.  Someone needs to do everything for you.  If you knock your lip gloss from the side table, you’ll just have to deal with those dry pale lips. . . .  but, we’re happy that THOSE are the things we consider issues.  There is someone at every stage of injury and recovery in the ICU.  Just as we were at a low, admiring those who were on their way out, we are now out and most likely the envy of others.

When we first arrived, there was a young woman to the right of my mom’s bed (separated by a curtain).  She had been in a horrible car accident. Hit head on by a drunk driver on the interstate, this poor girl was left with many shattered bones and some head injuries.  She had been there only a day or so more than my mom. We knew because the accident was published in the newspaper.  After several surgeries, she stabilized and moved on while my mom still had a couple operations ahead of her.  We saw her mom yesterday in the cafeteria and while she’s not in the ICU, she still has many operations ahead of her and speech therapy to regain her life.

The night after my mom arrived at the ICU, a tragic police shooting brought an officer to our floor. He had been shot in the neck, in the shoulder and in the chest.  The neck wound had done damage to the spine and the portion of the brain that controlled breathing.  He was on life support and the prognosis was: “miracle required”.  The waiting area was crowded day in and day out with family, police officers, and other community members showing their love and support. We spent a couple days and nights with one of his childhood friends who spoke of a kind, loving, and loyal officer, husband, and father.

As my mom awaited her last surgery, another young girl joined our room who was also a victim of a car accident. Less significant injuries than some of the others, but she was clearly traumatized.  There was lots of yelling and panic. She pulled her own breathing tube out and all hell broke loose. I gather she only needed one surgery since we never saw her after she was taken to the OR.

The sheets were cold only a couple hours before an older man was admitted with an embolism in the back of his leg.  He needed surgery to prevent a stroke and they talked about “saving his leg” being priority #1. . . . um, yeah, I think that would be at the top of my list too.

The day of my mom’s departure from the ICU I was sitting with her in the morning chatting away about lord knows what. We were both in great moods. She was feeling good, moving on, and applying make-up to her bruised face.  A new victim arrived with an entourage of teenagers.  A young man was flown in from northern Idaho with a gunshot wound to the stomach.  I listened in over the tears of his mother and girlfriend (I think) as the nurses said there was little news to offer until he went for surgery. The bullet had been removed in the first hospital, but a lot of shot remained.  The wound had been left open since there was much work to be done.  He was stable-ish, but running a high fever and there was no time to waste.  They carted him off to the OR moments later. I’m not sure what became of him, but just yesterday I saw some of his friends in the cafeteria, so I assume he’s still with us.

Yesterday I learned that the police officer was not so fortunate. After a week of life support and no improvement in his responsiveness, the family decided to let nature take its course.  I went to the ICU yesterday to say good bye to the staff and I immediately notices how empty, quiet and sad the waiting area was.  Gone were the men in uniform, the family, and the friends who had patiently and anxiously the miracle that didn’t come.

I’m so very grateful for my mom’s life and my own.  However, it’s a mixed blessing. We left the very same floor as some people who will not make a full recovery.  My mom herself was only a few inches away from a much different future than she has right now. But, yes, we are grateful.

Lorrie has a few more days in the hospital and will then either go on to an extended care facility or home. Safety and health are priority #1, so she’ll go wherever the best care can be provided to ensure an effective recovery.  She looks better each day and her enthusiasm and energy have almost fully returned.  She does need rest and will soon require a lot of physical therapy, but we are almost out of the woods and we’ve not seen any bears along the way.

It’s a great time to call, write, and send flowers ☺ I’m on my way out of Seattle and will return in a few weeks to help my mom. I’m leaving blogging responsibilities to Angie and Bob. . . . you will hear from them soon.  Thanks again for following our journey and all of your messages of love and support. She would not have done so well without you!